ANAHEIM- This wasn't the way George wanted to go out.
The National League all-stars defeated the American League all-stars 3-1 for their first mid-summer classic victory in 13 years. The victory means that the casket of George Steinbrenner will not be commemorated outside of the new Yankee Stadium, but inside the National League's victorious Citi Field in Flushing, New York.
"This is why we count the games now!" exclaimed Commissioner Bud Selig. "Eight years ago, I made a gigantic mistake by stopping the all-star game in a nine inning tie. From that point forward, we installed a system that would reward the winning league home advantage in the World Series...plus, another little known amendment..."
That little known amendment is the 'NL/AL Death Amendment of 2002.' The fine print on the all-star game provision states that '...any death of a dominant figure during the all-star break who served the majority of his career in a specific league will have said funeral at the nearest ballpark of the victorious league.'
This is the first time the law has been put into effect...and many are furious. One of those angered is long-time American League player/broadcaster Ken 'Hawk' Harrelson.
"George (Steinbrenner) served the Yankees for half of his life. Now he has to go to that craphole of Flushing to have his funeral? That is B.S.!"
Having the funeral in a National League ballpark will also bring forth new rules to the funeral procession. The National League will carry a solid six pall bearers.
"There is no stand-in for the sixth pall bearer. He can not be substituted in a National League park. Those were the rules in the old days...that seven person pall bearer deal was enforced in 1973 by that renegade Charlie O. Finley...people are still upset about that,' said Selig.
Still, many support the seven man pall bearer carry.
"Who wants to watch six pall bearers?" said long time American Leaguer and Yankee player Reggie Jackson. "Like there's supposed to be something exciting about only six pall bearers? The sixth pall bearer is usually some weakling who can't handle the casket. Nobody shows up to watch a sixth pall bearer carry a casket. Nobody. I made my living as a seventh pall bearer, and I hope that the seven-person pall bearer rule stays intact for people like myself...at the end of my career, I couldn't carry the same load...being a 7th pall bearer prolonged my pall bearing career."
Selig thinks that this little used provision will strike excitement into future all-star games.
"We've spent all these years trying to inject more interest into the all-star game...now we have it! Just imagine, if Tommy Lasorda dies during the All-Star break next year?...and the American League wins the game? How controversial would it be to have the procession in Anaheim?! That would be devastating...but interesting."
One positive of the procession will be time. Many American League funerals last over four hours, while National League funerals can sometimes be as quick as 2 1/2 hours.
"That National League runs a more traditional service," said long time NL fan Tim McCarver. "They usually do the service in Latin, which can be run through very quickly. The AL service is a bit more Protestant...they like to talk. More speaker changes. Time gets delayed by hours of eulogy. It gets boring. While the speakers are more interesting in the AL, the pace of game is more digestible in the NL. I think when it's all said and done, people will be happy the funeral is occurring in a National League park."
Steinbrenner's funeral will be scheduled for 12 pm, Friday at Citi Field in Flushing, New York.