ATLANTA - Aaron Sele was supposed to represent the Orioles on this night. He was supposed to justify the money thrown at him this winter by winning games and earning his second All-Star selection.
He's just not an Oriole.
Does close count?
Sele had reached agreement on a four-year Orioles contract in January and flew to Baltimore for his physical. Majority owner Peter Angelos tried to modify the offer after seeing the results, which apparently showed some wear in Sele's shoulder. Seattle Mariners general manager Pat Gillick quickly stepped in and signed him.
It couldn't have worked out much better for Sele, who lives in Bellevue, Wash., and wanted to pitch in Seattle.
"I only time I've reflected on that was when Baltimore came into Seattle," he said. "I was a teammate of Will Clark's [in Texas] and I've known Mike Bordick over the years. It just kind of crossed my mind.
"I saw too much of the business side of baseball this off-season. With the way things started in Texas and that broke down, and then we did the Baltimore thing and went back and forth on that.
"To have the Seattle situation come about so quickly, I think I was so pleased by the way Pat Gillick handled that, being aggressive and being positive about a player. He wanted me and four hours later the deal was done. I was so happy and pleased with that direction that I never really looked back at the could-haves and should-haves."
Since the beginning of the 1998 season, only Pedro Martinez (51), Randy Johnson (50) and David Wells (50) have won more games than Sele (48), who tossed a scoreless fourth inning last night. He allowed one hit, a single by Atlanta's Andres Galarraga. It was the only ball to leave the infield.
Since the beginning of the 1998 season, only Pedro Martinez (51), Randy Johnson (50) and David Wells (50) have won more games than Sele (48).
Now you see him ...
Mike Bordick had joked about people needing to stay awake until 1 a.m. to watch him in last night's All-Star Game. Humbled in the presence of the American League's marquee shortstops, Bordick fancied himself more of a Not Ready For Prime Time Player.
AL manager Joe Torre made sure Bordick was ready, sending him up as the first pinch-hitter leading off the third inning. Official time: 9:21 p.m.
The Orioles' shortstop hacked at the first offering from Kevin Brown, sending a long drive to center field that St. Louis' Jim Edmonds caught on the warning track with his back to the field.
Bordick rounded second, headed to third and kept going into the AL dugout. Just like that, his first All-Star appearance was complete.
Too bad the viewers at home missed it. NBC had cut away for an interview, rejoining the game as Edmonds was making the catch.
Rewards of faith
One of the feel-good stories here involves Atlanta first baseman Andres Galarraga, who made his fifth All-Star team after missing last season with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Galarraga was given the diagnosis one week before spring training. A year ago at this time, he was in West Palm Beach, Fla. receiving chemotherapy.
Last night, at his home ballpark, he was introduced as the National League's starting first baseman.
"He thinks the angels are looking out for him, and certainly that has a lot to do with it," said manager Bobby Cox.
Happy to be here
It took until his 35th birthday for Chicago Cubs catcher Joe Girardi to make his first All-Star team. It took some strange circumstances and a last-minute phone call for it to happen.
Girardi was the last player added to the NL's roster. His locker was the only one in the clubhouse that didn't have a nameplate above it. That's because he wasn't notified of his selection until around 2:30 p.m. Monday, concluding an exhaustive search for another reserve.
Cox had been scrambling to replace starting catcher Mike Piazza, who suffered a concussion when hit in the head by a Roger Clemenspitch over the weekend. Javy Lopez already had returned to Puerto Rico and Todd Hundley had an illness in his family.
That pretty much left Girardi, who's batting .302 with four homers and 21 RBIs since leaving the New York Yankees as a free agent this winter. Baseball executive Kate Feeney called him yesterday with the news.
"She asked me to come to Atlanta and I said, 'As a player?' It completely caught me off guard," he said. "The only thing I wouldn't have changed to be here was a wedding or my baby's baptism. Everything else could wait."
It matters little to Girardi that he wasn't Cox's first choice. Or his second.
"My time clock's ticking. I know I'm not getting any younger," he said. "Besides, in 50 years no one is going to remember how I got here."
Extra fun for Wells
When Torre named Toronto left-hander David Wells as the AL starter, he was honoring the pitcher the Yankees traded for Clemens. Naturally, the irony was too good for the media here to pass up.
The Yankees, like Wells' past employers, were put off by his excessive lifestyle. Club officials, apparently concerned that he would break down, jumped at the chance to acquire Clemens. Since the trade, however, Clemens is 20-16 with a 4.51 ERA in 283 1/3 innings. Wells, a onetime Oriole perceived as a negative clubhouse influence on young pitcher Rocky Coppinger, is 32-12 with a 4.32 ERA in 360 innings.
Willing to play along with the line of questioning, Wells told reporters, "I don't think there's a point to prove. I know what I'm capable of doing at any time. And you know, right now if I wanted to, I could strangle Joe."
Torre, sitting next to Wells, responded: "The only thing I can say is, if it was just to prove a point, you've done that so you can stop."