- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003


It has been 10 years since Mike Mussina stood up in the bullpen in the ninth inning at Camden Yards during the All-Star Game. And according to Cadillac Bud Selig, the game hasn’t been the same since.

Selig is laying on Mussina all the woes of last year’s debacle — which ended in a 7-7 tie in 11 innings when managers Joe Torre and Bob Brenly ran out of pitchers — and the resulting change that followed: having home-field advantage for the World Series at stake for the winning league.

In the 1993 game American League manager Cito Gaston refused to put the hometown pitcher in the game, nearly causing a riot at Camden Yards.

“Since Mike Mussina and Cito Gaston in 1993 in Baltimore, managers have felt that they need to get everyone in the game,” the commissioner said. “We had a bad experience in Baltimore, and there was an overreaction.”

An overreaction? That is an understatement. It touched off one of the biggest All-Star Game controversies in recent memory.

If you believe Cadillac Bud, it was an overreaction that lasted long after the anti-Cito T-shirts finally disappeared from Camden Yards. It is still being felt today, and last night’s managers, Dusty Baker and Mike Scioscia, had the task of bringing the game back to the pre-Mussina-Gaston fiasco days. They managed to pull it off without a hitch in a 7-6 American League win, which gave the AL pennant winner home-field advantage in the World Series.

“I can remember every year for a time with the Milwaukee Brewers, Don Money used to get selected for the All-Star Game, and every year he wouldn’t play,” said Cadillac Bud, who used to own the Brewers but, if you believe the hype, doesn’t anymore. Now his daughter owns and operates the team. “I used to get mad and throw a temper tantrum, but that was the way it was.”

Some would say Mussina threw his own subtle temper tantrum that July night at Camden Yards. But having been there and witnessed it, I can tell you it was great theater — one of the most memorable moments in the history of the ballpark.

The American League had a 9-3 lead going into the top of the ninth inning. The Orioles-Blue Jays rivalry was still heated, and Orioles fans already were upset with Gaston for having seven Blue Jays on the roster. They were stirring because Mussina had not yet made it into the game, and if it was going to happen, it had to happen now.

Gaston was oblivious, and to make it all the more insulting, he brought in his own closer, Duane Ward, to pitch the ninth inning with a six-run lead. Fans booed as Ward came in, then went wild when Mussina asked Orioles coach Elrod Hendricks to warm him up. He was shown on the JumboTron screen and the fans started chanting, “We want Mike! We want Mike!”

But Gaston hadn’t told Mussina to warm up and said he had no intention of using him unless the game went to extra innings. Mussina later claimed he was simply getting in work for his next start. Mussina was no fool. He knew his bullpen act would get the crowd going, and it did, big time.

The game ended with the AL winning 9-3, and the fans booed as loud as any other time at the ballpark as the players came off the field. The incident dominated Baltimore sports talk shows for days.

“Cito Gaston insulted the city of Baltimore,” talk show host Jeff Rimer said. He was joined by Orioles broadcaster Jon Miller, who declared, “After all the efforts the people of this city put forth this week, to have Cito Gaston do something like this was like he was thumbing his noses at the city of Baltimore. It was a showcase week, and it ended on a down note.” The anger would not go away, and it got to the point that Gaston said he feared for his safety when he came to Baltimore.

Scioscia made sure he wouldn’t have to face the wrath of angry White Sox fans. He was smart enough to name Chicago ace Esteban Loaiza to start last night, and the fans at U.S. Cellular Field roared loud and long when he was introduced.

Cal Ripken was at that 1993 All-Star Game, and he was at last night’s event in Chicago. He is not a big fan of the change that supposedly put meaning back into the game.

“I think it is unnecessary,” he said. “Everyone knows what happened last year and realizes what went wrong. I don’t think you would see that again.

“The game became more of an exhibition game recently, and I think last year put the focus back on how it should be played,” Ripken said.

He recalled when he played in the 1991 All-Star Game in Toronto. Ripken was having a career year and had won the Home Run Derby the day before by hitting 12 over the fence. He had a three-run home run in the game. “When I was supposed to bat after that, Tony La Russa had Ozzie Guillen pinch hit for me,” Ripken said. “The situation called for a sacrifice bunt. That was playing the game to win.”

According to Cadillac Bud, playing the game to win began to die a slow death in Baltimore 10 years ago.

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