The Texas Rangers are frequently at their very best when real baseball is not being played.
Last night's All-Star Game in Anaheim isn't "real baseball.'' In a sport where nothing much ever changes (I swear some of the Lords of Baseball would just as soon not have bothered getting the flannel uniforms out and letting Jackie Robinson in), the All-Star Game is still staged as if it's being played under beer-league pickup-game rules.
In the end, the National League topped the American League 3-1, maybe in part because somebody in the AL dugout forgot that David Ortiz shouldn't be running bases in the clutch and that Alex Rodriguez shouldn't be not pinch-hitting in the clutch.
It was a mess in so many ways, this game that "fake-counts'' (the league that wins earns its eventual World Series rep home-field advantage).
But the one constant through all the years has been the Rangers in the All-Star Game.
The Rangers always make news.
It was Texas' Ian Kinsler who came to the plate with a man on, two out and a chance to do something heroic. Kinsler drove the ball to right-center, but not deep enough.
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It was Texas who had six representatives total in the game, five of them getting playing time. Reliever Neftali Feliz did not get in. But newcomer Cliff Lee did, and was impressive in his short stint, putting down the NL in order in the fourth on just six pitches. What Lee did here - including a three-pitch take-down of three-time MVP Albert Pujols and a meek groundball out allowed to Ryan Howard - needs to carryover to "real baseball,'' where Lee is expected to be THE Rangers difference-maker.
Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero (playing in front of his old Anaheim fans) had the honor of batting in the middle of the order. Elvis Andrus made his first All-Star appearance as he had the honor of pinch-running for Derek Jeter (though Elvis' popup slide after a stolen base led to him straying from the bag and being tagged out.
Conspicuous in his absence: Michael Young. A-Rod may have not entered the game to protect himself from injury. Had he gone in, it might've been to replace starting third baseman Adrian Beltre, who was nursing an injury troublesome enough that on Monday, AL manager Joe Girardi accidently and mistakenly announced that Young had been added to the roster.
See? The Rangers make All-Star news even when they aren't All-Stars.