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Players support All-Star decision
07/10/2002 1:55 AM ET
MILWAUKEE -- Richie Sexson has heard nothing but loud cheers during the two-day hoopla surrounding the 73rd All-Star Game. He never expected to hear boos when he came off the field Tuesday night.

But the sellout crowd of 41,871 fans didn't understand the decision to prematurely end the game after 11 innings with the American and National League teams tied at 7-7.

"They didn't give anybody a reason why we had to stop the game," said Sexson, the Milwaukee Brewers first baseman. "That seemed to be the problem. We ran out of players, it's as simple as that.

"I don't think they would've been as upset if they had a reason," Sexson said. "That's a tough way to end it because it was a good game, kind of back and forth."

Sexson said he wasn't disappointed, upset, frustrated -- just tired and overwhelmed by the entire All-Star event.

"C'mon, it's a good time," Sexson said. "You just have fun and enjoyment."

"I think we were glad," Houston's Lance Berkman said of the decision. "We'd been out there a long time. Everybody was pretty tired. People don't realize you can't get anybody hurt, you can't extend a pitcher beyond what he's supposed to be throwing here. There are races to be thinking about in the second half. You can't be risking injury, so I think it was a good decision."

"At that point," Los Angeles' Shawn Green said, "you couldn't really go on. This is an exhibition and we were out of players. It probably would have been better to wait until after the (11th) inning to make the announcement."

Instead, an announcement was made before the bottom of the 11th, which prompted boos and chants of "Let them play."

"When you change pitchers each inning, you're going to run out eventually," Cincinnati's Adam Dunn said. "That's just what happened. If we had more pitchers, we'd still be playing."

"I look at it like Spring Training," Green said, "where you only have a certain amount of guys to play. You're not necessarily playing to set yourself up in the late innings for a win."

Still, nobody likes to hear boos during a game that is designed to celebrate baseball.

"It's tough to hear the crowd get upset," Green said. "The whole point is to put on a show. But I think we did. This was one of the best All-Star Games. There was a little bit of everything, home runs, great catches. I don't know if people would be happier with 15-2, but at least there would've been an outcome."

So, what can Major League Baseball do differently to avoid coming up short-handed?

"The rosters definitely should be expanded, for reasons like this," Green said, "but more importantly because there are so many more guys deserving. The thing about the All-Star Game isn't necessarily playing, but experiencing the whole thing."

Arizona pitcher Curt Schilling, who was the starter a lifetime ago for the National League, was asked whether the fans got their money's worth. Some paid $150 for a ticket.

"I understand that but they got to see 11 innings of pretty damn good baseball," Schilling said. "I mean, does it change the fact that they didn't see a team win? Seriously? I don't know. They saw 11 innings of pretty good baseball.

"Here's the problem -- you're going to focus on the fact that we ended the game after 11 innings instead of talking about Torii Hunter's catch, Damian Miller in front of the home crowd," he said. "That'll be like a side note. So what do you do? You've got to make a change. You can't let this happen. There should be a re-entry rule, too, because I would have liked to have hit."

Miller, a Wisconsin native and now a catcher for the Diamondbacks, was glad to get home finally.

"All I can say is, I think they made the right decision," Miller said. "Freddy Garcia is the main guy for the Seattle Mariners and Vicente Padilla is one of the main guys for Philadelphia and there's no sense in pitching those guys extra innings when there are no more pitchers to throw out there."

What about position players pitching?

"(Jose) Canseco ended up doing that a couple years ago and got hurt," Arizona's Luis Gonzalez said. "This is the All-Star Game, it showcases what you can do at your natural position so you don't want to go out there and embarrass yourself if you've never pitched before.

"There was no other option for us to have," Gonzalez said. "You can't call guys up out of the stands or local players to play. We just ran out of guys. There's no other way around it.

"This is probably a good sign just showing -- every year there's controversy over who gets left off the All-Star team. Well, maybe this is a sign that we need to get more players out there."

Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said there weren't many options.

"Maybe pick the fastest guy on each team and have them race," Konerko said. "Flip a coin? Set up nets on the side and take penalty kicks?"

"It's unfortunate," Konerko said, "but anybody who looks at that baseball game can say it was a well-played game."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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