Cigar Aficionado

In Case You Were Watching the Game

An "Expose" of the Important Stuff During All-Star Week

By now you've no doubt read enough about the 78th All-Star Game and what happened between the lines. (Yes, Ichiro Suzuki is faster in person.) Let me get your eye back on the ball. The real headline to the two days I spent in San Francisco attending a myriad of All-Star Game events is: "Sabathia Snubbed, Throws Party."

The manager of the American League squad, Detroit Tigers skipper Jim Leyland, decided not to start C. C. Sabathia, the ace of the Cleveland Indians, in favor of Oakland's Danny Haren. For Sabathia, the non-start meant that he and fellow All-Stars Jose Reyes and David Wright of the Mets, Justin Verlander of the Tigers, Carl Crawford of the Devil Rays, Josh Beckett of the Red Sox, and Torii Hunter and Johan Santana of the Twins could stay out even later at Sabathia's 27th birthday party thrown for him by the good people of Crown Royal and Playboy at the movable Crown Royal Playboy Lounge, housed for the night at the Galleria Design Center.

The Playboy component was appropriately and amply represented by a dozen or so not-so-amply clad Bunnies, all-stars in their own right. The lighting in the atrium building was vintage disco in Crown Royal purple, making the bright white cottontails on the Bunny costumes that much more, um, intriguing as they bounced and gyrated to the tunes spun by DJ Jazzy Jeff, who wore a Phillies cap. The Bunny ears didn't move or, at least, didn't attract as much interest.

If there is an off-the-field, baseball-related headline to the 78th All-Star Game, it is that Barry Bonds behaved pretty much like a mensch all week. The consensus over cigars and drinks with some baseball executives -- at an undisclosed indoor location where smoking is not permitted by law, but was permitted by the baseball-loving owner of the establishment -- was that Bonds was generally gracious with the media, taking their questions for more than an hour, though he didn't answer the ones about steroids. It's unclear if tax evasion came up. He embraced the role of fan favorite, high-fiving well-wishers on his way into AT&T Park, though it's unclear if he greeted anyone who might have mentioned the "clean" or the "clear." Or tax evasion. Bonds even threw a party on the eve of the game but, unlike Sabathia's celebration, it was very private and, by all reports, Bunny-free. Bonds received a huge ovation when he was introduced hitting second behind the Mets' Reyes.

If there is an on-the-field baseball-related headline, it is: "No Splashdown!" The wind-blown flags atop the stadium pointed toward left field on both days of the festivities. The disappointment of the fans was especially evident on Monday night during the annual Home Run Derby, and more so if you were a fan in a kayak in McCovey Cove waiting to pluck a souvenir out of the water. Only the Twins' Justin Mourneau, last year's AL MVP, reached the boats, but with a foul ball.

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