Angry Ward Wednesday: You Can Keep Today’s All-Stars, I’ll Take the Bird, the Cobra and Fernando

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NEW YORK, NY – They played the Major League Baseball’s All Star Game last night, and I didn’t watch a single inning. [Spoiler Alert: The AL won]. This doesn’t qualify as “big news” in my sand-grain-sized universe, in that I haven’t paid all that much attention to the All Star Game for years. Not exactly sure when this happened, though it might have been around the beginning of inter-league play, which kinda ruined the novelty of guys from the NL and AL facing each other for the first time, or it might’ve been sometime around the infamous Bud Selig 7-7 tie game in 2002, but it was most likely due to the fact that the players in the game stopped being all that interesting to me. At some point baseball lost its personalities and we instead got a bunch of musclebound guys who “did all their talking on the field.” I mean, Derek Jeter was great and all but, for a guy that had more partners than Secretariat, he had a dull-as-dishwater persona. Give me THESE all-stars any day!

Mark Fidrych. The Bird was only 21 when he started the 1976 All Star Game for the American League. He talked to the ball, manicured the mound with his hands, and got guys out. There was nothing about the guy that didn’t demand attention. Alas his baseball career, as well as his life, flamed out too soon.

1976 All Star Starters: Fidrych and Randy Jones.

Dave Parker. When I think of all-time baseball badasses, Dave Parker is one of the first guys that comes to mind.  The aptly nicknamed “Cobra” was a 7-time all-star who could kill you with his vicious bat or his bazooka arm. Even after suffering a broken jaw and cheekbone with Mets catcher John “Dude” Stearns, Parker wanted to play and came back wearing the most menacing mask possible. Take a look.

Fernando Valenzuela. The Dodgers 80’s ace was must-see TV whenever he pitched. His unconventional, skywards looking delivery baffled hitters and fans alike. And, in the 1986 ASG he fanned five in a row in a group that included Mattingly and Ripken. Not too shabby.

Mickey Rivers. He went to only one All Star Game (1976), and had a real rag arm, but Mick the Quick was easily one of my favorite players to watch. You gotta like a guy who walked like an old man, flew around the bases, and occasionally spent the night sleeping in his Cadillac.

Randy Johnson vs. John Kruk. For me, this showdown between The Big Unit and The Big Mess remains the last really memorable All Star Game moment.

Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk. Two great backstops, and hated rivals, on the same team together was pretty cool.

Herve Villachaize. A dominant righty for the White Sox, Tattoo… just making sure you’re still paying attention.

Relievers. Back in the days when starting pitchers were expected to go deep into games, there were some true workhorse relief pitchers that were cool to watch in the All Star Game. Names like Lee Smith, Bruce Sutter, Sparky Lyle, Fingers, Quisenberry, and Gossage that eventually gave way to Eck, Hoffman and Mo, and the mess we’re in today. Anyway, it was fun watching fireman of both leagues do their thing in the game’s late innings.

Okay, that’s it for this Wednesday. Come back tomorrow for Buddy Diaz who just may be wondering what move(s) his Yankees are going to make to avoid being a Wild Card team in the AL.

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Wednesday: Angry Ward, who has admirers at the NY Times, is the quintessential angry sports fan but one exception... he's flat-out funny. And the angrier he gets, the more amusing his work becomes. Psychiatrists say, "Angry Ward's 'anger' is a direct result of "Bronx/Mets syndrome: growing up in the Bronx as a Mets fan." As if that weren't enough, his Minnesota North Stars abandoned him for Dallas, forcing him to embrace The Wild the way conservatives embrace Mitt Romney. While the Vikings tease him incessantly with flirtations of success, the Golden State Warriors, "Don't have a enough short, white angry guys but I don't dislike them... that much." A-Dubya is MTM's longest-tenured indentured servant, its Larry David and quite simply, The Franchise.

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