Tuesday night Tigers fans and baseball fans for that matter saw something very uncharacteristic of Justin Verlander and that was him being tagged for five runs in the first inning of the MLB All-Star Game. The American League would later go on to lose the game to the National League 8-0 and surrender home field advantage in the World Series.
After the game, Verlander attributed his performance to wanting to have fun and putting on a show for the fans.
“We’re here for the fans,” Verlander said. “I know the fans don’t want to see me hit 90 mph and hit the corners.”
“I know nobody wants to see me throw 90 mph,” Verlander said. “They like to see the 100 mph fastball. So, hey, I gave them that.”
Now I don’t believe Verlander wanted to go out there and give up five runs in the first inning and I do believe that he wanted the American League to win. Obviously though winning didn’t take precedent and because of this Verlander has gotten some criticism from fans and to an extent members of contending organizations.
Skimming around the internet today I’ve noticed that fans of the Rangers and Yankees weren’t too pleased with Verlander having fun and giving up the five runs while American League manager (and Rangers manager) Ron Washington called Verlander’s performance disappointing.
“it’s very disappointing, because we’re competitors and we want to win. But I think you’ve got to tip your hat to the National League again. They came out, they swung the bats, once they got the lead, started bringing those arms in their hand, and they got the job done.”
But does Verlander deserve the criticism for his performance last night?
Let’s throw away the Kate Upton speculation or that it’s a stupid stipulation that the winner of the All-Star Game gets home field advantage in the World Series, thank you Bud Selig. But the fact of the matter is the All-Star stipulation is the rule and given the recent history of success of home field advantage in the World Series, contending teams in the American League (including the Detroit Tigers) have a right to be upset about Verlander’s approach to Tuesday night’s game.
Sure, the AL bats didn’t come around and Verlander wasn’t the only contributing factor as to why the American League got shelled but digging yourself a 5-0 hole in the first is still difficult to come back from, even in an All-Star Game. Furthermore home field advantage in Major League Baseball seems every bit more important than any other sport given last ups in the game.
You also have to ask yourself this question too, how much fun was last night’s game really from a fans perspective? Was it really fun seeing the American League fall behind big early and the National League win by a route? That doesn’t seem like an enjoyable game to watch to me.