Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 7/11/12
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One inning cost the American League home-field advantage in the World Series. It will be three months before we learn the identity of the luckyunlucky club. And once that happens as grown men in swimming goggles spray Champagne after the pennant clincher we should remember this sequence of events Tuesday night. The All-Star Game was only five batters old, but Justin Verlander MVP, Mr. Cy Young, ace among aces had arrived at a pivotal moment: The National League led, 1-0, and had a runner on second with two out. Carlos Beltran was the hitter. The count ran full, and Beltran took a mighty hack at one of Verlanders famous heaters. Foul ball. It wasnt terribly exciting, other than what the Kauffman Stadium scoreboard told the sellout crowd of 40,933. 100 MPH. Then Verlander heard a familiar voice. VER! Prince Fielder, his Detroit Tigers teammate, hollered from first base. 101! Understand this about Verlander: He is, at 29, mellower than in his younger days on the mound, at least. He usually throws in the low 90s during the early innings. That allows him to establish a consistent delivery the foundation from which he later ascends to 97, 98, 99 and, yes, 100. The method is rare, but it has helped Verlander become the best pitcher in baseball. Well, Verlander didnt use it Tuesday. He didnt even try. Basically, he had it in his mind that folks in the ballpark and those watching around the world wanted to see him throw the baseball as hard as he possibly could. And when that sort of notion germinates in the brain of Justin Brooks Verlander, it brings about a collision of machismo and talent more combustible than July fireworks. The next pitch, of course, was a ball but it was 101, Verlander said. I looked at him, like, See? I told you. To which I say: Good for him. Point proved. Entertainment delivered. The problem, of course, was that Beltran walked. And once Buster Posey walked . . . and Pablo Sandoval tripled . . . and Dan Uggla singled . . . well, the NL was ahead 5-0 en route to an 8-0 blowout. Verlander is one of the most competitive people in baseball. He dissects spring training starts and chastises himself after wins. Ive never heard him say, That hitter is better than me. I doubt I ever will. Yet, Tuesday night, he offered this: Obviously, I dont want to give up runs. I know it means something, but were here for the fans. And I know the fans dont want to see me throw 90 and try to hit the corners. Just let it eat. And this: I was able to laugh about it right away. And finally: Hey, I had fun. This, from a man whose final line included five earned runs on four hits in one inning. He took the loss, too. Fun? Make no mistake: Verlander cared. His attitude was cavalier, not careless. This is the same guy who starts each game with the idea that hes going to throw a no-hitter. Tuesday was closer to an all-hitter. Verlander couldnt locate his fastball, which would have been a problem if he were starting the Appalachian League All-Star Game. This was the all-grunt, no-guile Verlander the one frequently on display during the 2008 season which, not coincidentally, was his worst in the big leagues. Thats why I dont try to throw a hundred in the first inning, Verlander said, grinning. It doesnt usually work out too well for me. Ive heard Verlander rationalize after poor starts. That wasnt the case Tuesday. If anything, his postgame remarks showed that he understands the principle of the All-Star Game. It is meant to showcase the best talents in baseball. It is meant to delight fans, in the stadium and at home. It is meant to humanize stars we see fleetingly the rest of the season. When he pitches for the Tigers, Verlanders job is to win. Tuesday, his job was to entertain. And he did that, as much as any pitcher could while saddling his AL teammates with what proved to be an insurmountable deficit. You know what? I wasnt expecting that hard, said NL leadoff man Carlos Gonzalez, whom Verlander struck out to begin the game. He just fired bullets to me, then a really nasty curveball. I was like, All right, he got me with the best stuff. I was ready to walk back to the dugout. The All-Star Game counts. It has for a decade. Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington now 0-4 in All-Star and World Series play is well aware of that. But the greater obligation is to the show itself. If commissioner Bud Selig wants the game to determine home-field advantage for the World Series and he does then it will be so. The World Series tie-in is an aftereffect of the game, not its purpose. There is a distinction, and its one that Verlander and many players grasp in full. Usually hes throwing that 91, spotting up, when were facing him in the regular season, said Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli, who received Verlanders 35 pitches (19 strikes). He kind of made a comment to me: People didnt come here to see 91. He was just letting it go. It wasnt as if Verlanders AL teammates took issue with his approach even if the loss may hurt their chances at a world championship. Thats obviously not who he is, White Sox slugger Adam Dunn said. You throw that (start) out the window. He didnt have his location. That was it. You wont see that again as long as he pitches. Rangers closer Joe Nathan, who saw Verlander frequently while playing for the Twins, saw shades of the younger Verlander the one who sometimes fell victim to overthrowing in big starts. He started out throwing that hard, and when he got into a little trouble its not like he could throw harder, Nathan said. He was already bringing what he had, and it was hard for him to get out of that spot. Yet, he was one pitch away from escaping the first inning with only a 1-0 deficit. Remember the Beltran at-bat: The count was 3-2, when Fielder the previous nights Home Run Derby showman egged Verlander into an attempt at short-circuiting the Kauffman Stadium radar gun. He missed. The rally was on. The World Series will begin in an NL park for the third consecutive autumn. And you know what? It was worth it.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Best athlete by state all time
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Zaza Pachulia smacks Luke Babbitt in the face

Westbrook laughs at question about having to contain Gobert

Report: Jackson told Carmelo he doesn't share Rosen's opinion

Manziel disappears from Twitter after giving advice to Trump

Jeremy Lin re-aggravates hamstring, out another three to five weeks

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Browns could join 49ers in pursuit of Cousins

Hull City's Ryan Mason recovering from skull fracture

Isaiah Thomas: ‘I feel like I’m the best player in the world’

Falcons GM ignored Belichick's bad advice on Julio Jones

Watson declined Browns' request to play in Senior Bowl

Tom Brady talks about his relationship with Matt Ryan

The best-looking Super Bowls and fan fashions over the years

The week in NFL news as explained by Outkast

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

Box Score 1/20: 37 years ago today, Carter said no to Moscow

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Ranking the top three conferences in college basketball

Eight bold predictions for second half of NBA season

Box Score 1/19: Happy anniversary to the 'Tuck Rule' game

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The week in NFL news as explained by Outkast

QUIZ: Name every prominent quarterback in the history of the New England Patriots

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

QUIZ: Name the owners of these 50 famous NFL nicknames

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker