McCann makes up for near-miss, wins All-Star MVP
AP Baseball Writer
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Brian McCann came to the plate and the Angel Stadium scoreboard posted a curious piece of info: This was his fifth straight All-Star appearance.
Five in a row? Really? Who knew?
McCann atoned for his silent showings in the summer showcase, and more than made up for an earlier near-miss, by lining a bases-loaded double Tuesday night that lifted the National League to a 3-1 win.
McCann’s three-run liner in the seventh inning earned him the MVP award. The Atlanta catcher certainly waited a while for this hit – he was a quiet 0 for 3 in his previous All-Star trips.
“B.J. Ryan, Joe Nathan, you’re facing quality guys,” he said. “I wasn’t even thinking about that at all.”
In a way, his hit was more than a decade in the making. McCann was a year away from turning into a teenager the last time his side beat the American League in 1996, leaving many to wonder how long the drought would go.
“We’ve had to answer that question for the last five times for me,” McCann said.
McCann got a chance to do some damage in the fifth when he pinch hit with runners on the corners. He flied out to the warning track against Justin Verlander to end the inning, leaving the NL down 1-0.
Next time up, he got even and then some. After lofting a foul fly that barely sailed out of play, the lefty-swinging McCann delivered against Chicago White Sox left-hander Matt Thornton.
McCann swung his arm in celebration after pulling into second base, and NL players in the dugout surged to greet the trio of runners that scored.
NL manager Charlie Manuel of Philadelphia figured something good might happen. He’s seen McCann plenty during the regular season.
“Absolutely kills us,” Manuel said.
Manuel turned to his coaches, telling them he wanted Thornton to try to blow a heater past McCann.
“I said I hope he keeps the ball down and hard, because this guy can light him up. He threw him a low fastball, and he clocked him.”
Cheering right along with Manuel, for sure, were McCann’s parents. They were in the ballpark while his pregnant wife was watching back home in Georgia.
“Today was big. And home-field advantage for the World Series is big,” McCann said.
His Braves certainly appreciated his contribution. They come out of the All-Star break with a four-game lead in the NL East.
The 26-year-old McCann, hitting .267 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs this season, became the second Atlanta player to win the All-Star MVP trophy, joining Fred McGriff, who got it in 1994.
McCann began this game on the bench, behind St. Louis’ Yadier Molina. Despite his frequent picks as an All-Star, he’s usually been stuck backing up the likes of Geovany Soto, Russell Martin and Paul Lo Duca.
And his previous All-Star bats were far from memorable. Around the majors, though, his value was recognized.
Toronto catcher John Buck, who got a hit for AL, realized McCann was a five-time All-Star.
“Catchers know. He can bang. He can flat-out rake, and the reason he doesn’t get noticed very much is because he’s that good of a catcher,” Buck said. “Good catchers don’t get noticed. That’s the job, and he’s just out there every year, getting it done and being one of the best in the game.”