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Updated: July 16th, 2014 9:37am
Zulgad: Wainwright's comments shouldn't ruin magical night

Zulgad: Wainwright's comments shouldn't ruin magical night

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- Stop it already.

This space is frequently used to vent about what is wrong with sports and the various local teams, but you had to look long and hard to find fault with the All-Star Game on Tuesday night at Target Field.

Under ideal conditions, Derek Jeter's final appearance in the Mid-Summer Classic was handled with near perfection on many levels. The fact that there was a symbolic passing of the torch to Angels mega-star Mike Trout, the MVP in the AL's 5-3 win, made it even better.

Pat Neshek might have gotten roughed up but who cares? The fact the Brooklyn Park native, who has been through so much in life, got into the game in his home town after receiving a huge ovation during pre-game introductions meant that not even being the losing pitcher could knock the smile off the face of the Cardinals reliever.

The night was capped by the announced crowd of 41,048 welcoming Stillwater native and Twins closer Glen Perkins to the mound to earn the save with a nine-pitching outing.

It was a nearly perfect evening for the best exhibition game in sports, right?

Evidently that wasn't entirely the case.

One of the main storylines has become the fact that Adam Wainwright, the starting pitcher for the NL, said in his post-appearance interview that the double he gave up to Jeter in the first inning came on a "pipe shot" thrown by the by the Cardinals ace.

This came shortly after Wainwright exited the game as he met with reporters. The criticism of Wainwright for admitting this was immediate and loud enough that he later went on Fox and attempted to back track on his comments.

Today, the narrative is that Wainwright took away from Jeter's All-Star swansong by admitting he might have grooved a few pitches. There is also the argument that Wainwright was in the wrong because this game counts for home-field advantage in the World Series and Wainwright did the NL a disservice by grooving a pitch.

Really?

As for point No. 1, maybe Wainwright shouldn't have admitted to what he did but how many times has the media rolled their collective eyes at getting clichés and lies thrown at them from athletes.

The fact Wainwright admitted he didn't treat this like a regular-season appearance - his back track was nothing more than attempting to put the tooth paste back in the tube - basically was an acknowledgement to something that has been done plenty of times before in this exhibition. And it's not as if Wainwright lobbed an underhand pitch at Jeter.

As for point No. 2, Wainwright did everyone a favor. His acknowledgment was a wake-up call to the fact that home-field in the World Series being decided by who wins the All-Star Game is a joke and that no matter how hard baseball attempts to convince players this is a good idea they are going to think it's a joke.

In this case, commissioner Bud Selig is the principal and the players are the kids who get a talking to and then break into uproarious laughter as soon as he leaves the room. This is baseball's problem to fix and putting any blame on Wainwright is ridiculous.

Allowing Wainwright's comments to put a cloud over the night's events is as ridiculous as what this exhibition game decides.

Having attended the 1985 All-Star Game at the Metrodome, I can tell you that this game has the ability to be a major dud and leave you with few memories. Tuesday more than made up for what happened on that summer night so long ago.

Thirty years from now there will be many things to remember about the All-Star Game played at Target Field. Wainwright's comments shouldn't be among them. 

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Pat Neshek, Glen Perkins
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