Johnson ran out of gas on the final


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On the eve of the 85th All-Star game at Target Field in Minneapolis, I was digging around in my basement and came across a complete copy of the Toronto Star from July 10, 1991.Brian Taylor Jersey. That was the day after the Blue Jays hosted their one and only All -Star Classic at what was then Skydome. I have so many memories of that week, but really just a fragment of what came flooding back when I re-read that edition of the Star. I was fortunate to be able to work the National League dugout during the "Legends" game on the Monday afternoon, so I was right there when Bill Mazeroski -- the man who hit the first World Series winning walk-off homer vs the Yankees in 1960 -- hit a shot to left in this game 31 years later. To speak with him right after this homerun was one of the greatest thrills Ive ever had as a broadcaster. Then there was the incredible display of power hitting Cal Ripken Jr. put on in the homerun derby. He smashed 12 homers and including a number of titanic shots that wowed the crowd.Cal wasnt done there, though. In the bottom of the third on Tuesday night, he slugged the game-winning three run homer off the Expos; Dennis Martinez. That would ultimately propel the American League to a 4-2 victory in the 62nd All-Star game and made Ripken the games MVP. By a twist of fate, the Blue Jays Jimmy Key got the win. In the second inning, the Twins Jack Morris (a Blue Jay a year later) got hit on the foot with a line drive through the box. He left the game after the second and fortunately for him and the Twins, who would go on to win the World Series that year, Morris suffered only a bruise. Ripken slugged the homer right after Key had worked the top of the third, for his only inning of the night. This game had an element of controversy too. JulioFranco, who was the All Star game MVP the year before at Wrigley Field in Chicago, was upset when RobertoAlomar was named the starting second baseman over him. How did that work out? Well American League skipper Tony La Russa made Alomar the only position player in his lineup to play the entire game. Franco did not get inserted into the lineup at all, though Robbie went (0-4) that must have been satisfying.George Bell, then of the Chicago Cubs, was back in his old stomping grounds pinch hitting in the 9th, facing Dennis Eckersley. "Eck" struck him out and then was more than a little surprised, when he received the bulk of the cheers and Bell was booed. Another special moment I had completely forgotten -- Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk has a bloop single in his 12th All-Star game. Not only was it his first hit in the mid-summer classic since 1981, at 43 it made him the oldest All-Star ever to get a hit.We rarely got to see the National League in those days and the two members of the Senior Circuit squad who impressed me be the most were lefty TomGlavine and reliever Rob Dibble. Glavine started and pitched two shutout innings, striking out three, while Dibble was throwing "seven kinds of smoke" in his one inning of relief.There were out events that made this game special. A Canadian "Hall of Famer" Fergie Jenkins got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Before the game, two of the games immortals -- Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, were honoured at home plate for their incredible feats, 50 years earlier, when Joe "D" ran up his incredible 56 game hit streak for the Yankees and Teddy Ballgame" became the last man to bat over .400 for a season. " Home run King Hank Aaron was the honourary captain for the National League and Rod Carew one of the games great pure hitters for the American. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and U.S President George Bush even attended and sat together talkng politics for part of the game. A Skydome record crowd 52,383 gave us all a taste of what it would be like to host a World Series, which of course the Blue Jays did a year later against Atlanta.One more trivia note on that 1991 All-Star game. Ken Griffey Jr.. at 21. was playing in his second All-Star game, but the year before at Wrigley he went (0-2). In 91, at Skydome he got his first two All-Star hits.Something else about that All-Star break; the Blue Jays had won 15 of 18 games going into it, and had a five-and-a-half game lead in the Division. They went on to win the East with a (91-71) record and finished seven games ahead of Detroit and Boston. However, they lost the ALCS to Minnesota in five games, losing the last three at home.There are all kinds of trade rumours surrounding the All-Star break and 1991 was no exception. The hot one involving the Blue Jays had them getting Dennis Martinez from the Expos. It never happened and "El Presidente" went on to lead the National League in ERA with a 2,39 mark.I guess the real purpose in all of this All-Star storytelling was to ultimately wonder when the game will return to Toronto. Cincinnati will host the "Big Game" next year and Commisioner Bud Selig said a few weeks ago that Baltimore had the inside track for 2016. That would have marked the 25th Anniversary of the game being played in Toronto, and would have been the perfect opportunity to schedule a sequel.With Minnesota hosting this years event, only two other American League teams have gone longer without hosting the All-Star game. Oakland hasnt since 1987 and Tampa Bay never has.After the Reds do the honours next year, only 4 National League teams will have waited long than the Jays -- the Dodgers (1980), the Cubs (1990), Washington (1969) and Miami ( never). The 1991 All-Star game was special. Its high time the Blue Jays had the chance to host it again! The Orioles hit the All-Star break with a solid four-game lead on the Blue Jays and a five game lead on the Yankees. The last time the 0s won the division was 1997. That year, they had quite a Blue Jays connection. Pat Gillick was the GM, and there were four players who either had been or would be Blue Jays. The four included Jimmy Key, who won 16 games that season, lefty Randy Myers who be the Blue Jays closer for part of the following season, RobertoAlomar and Geronimo Berroa. Joe Carter would join the Orioles in 1998. In the Wild Card Race, the Blue Jays are in a virtual tie with Kansas City -- two-and-a-half games back of Seattle and that second Wild Card slot. Considering all of that, the Blue Jays final seven games, all at Rogers Centre, include four with Seattle followed by three versus Baltimore. It will be an incredible finish providing they are all meaningful games.Kyrie Irving Jersey.J. -- PatrickSharp is on one of those streaks.Spencer Dinwiddie Jersey. -- Syracuse was dangerously close to letting another less talented opponent pull off the upset when C.DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Its been 21 years since Joe Gibbs Racing celebrated its only Daytona 500 victory. Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth have the team in good position to end the drought. The JGR drivers swept the Daytona 500 qualifying races Thursday night. For Kenseth, it was redemption after a pair of wrecks during Speedweeks. Hamlins victory kept him undefeated on 2014. Hamlin also won last Saturdays exhibition Sprint Unlimited, and he goes into Sundays season-opening Daytona 500 trying to become the first driver in history to sweep Speedweeks. "Once that snowball starts to roll, its hard to stop it, and right now were just on a heck of a run," said Hamlin, who closed last year with a win in the season finale. After going so many years without winning a second Daytona 500, team owner Joe Gibbs wasnt looking ahead. His only win was with Dale Jarrett in 1993. "Weve come with great cars over the years. It shows you what a tough race this is, the 500," he said. "This race is extremely, extremely hard to win. That probably says it the best. That says it the best, over 21 years, thats a bunch." JGR had strong cars last season and seemed to be the team to beat during the race, but came up empty when Kenseths engine failed while leading. Minutes later, teammate Kyle Buschs engine also failed. Toyota is still looking for its first win in the "Great American Race." "The last Daytona was so far away, weve moved well beyond that," said Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson. "Were certainly not sweating the issues we had last year." The qualifying races make for an emotional day as drivers race their way into the Daytona 500, while others are sent home from the biggest event of the NASCAR season. Those left broken-hearted this year were Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek, Ryan Truex, Eric McClure and Morgan Shepherd, who at 72 was trying to become the oldest driver in the field. Dave Blaney withdrew from the qualifying race after wrecking his only car in Wednesdays practice. But it was euphoria for the small teams of Swan Racing, which got both Cole Whitt and Parker Kligerman in the race a day after both drivers wrecked in practice, and Hillman Racing, which will be in the Daytona 500 with Landon Cassill, who was hit by a car Saturday while riding his bike in Daytona. "Ive been stressed out about this siince July," Cassill said.Iman Shumpert Jersey. "I think Ive played this race over in my head, what I think it could do, for months now. For a small team, this race kind of makes our whole season, just the prize money alone to start on Sunday gets us through the next six or seven weeks. Its just huge for us." For Swan Racing, getting rookies Whitt and Kligerman into the field erased the nightmare of Wednesday. Whitt wrecked moments into practice, and the team was forced to rebuild his car after Kligermans was totalled when he went airborne. It was the first time Kligerman was ever upside down. Because Swan has only one backup, Kligerman got it, and the team went to work rebuilding Whitts car. Whitt raced his way in, but Kligerman faded in the first race and had to nervously watch the second race unfold to see if he earned a spot in the Daytona 500. "I feel like in a lot of ways, you have the weight of an organization on your shoulders to get these two cars in the race," Kligerman said. "Its a growing organization, an organization that wants to be around for a long time to come." But the second race ended in chaos, making everyone unsure of anything as defending Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson ran out of gas on the final lap to trigger a crash that caused Clint Bowyers car to flip. "I knew he was saving gas coming to the green. Its too bad to tear cars up like that," Bowyer said. "That was one of the wildest flips Ive ever had. I think we would have been just fine if I hadnt hit the grass right here." Johnson was apologetic. "I feel terrible. To tear up that many race cars ... to see (Bowyer) flip ... certainly want to apologize to everyone," he said. "I tried to get up out of the way. So much energy in the pack that I knew I was going to get run over if I ran out because guys warned me about it -- and it did." The first race was uneventful as Kenseth led two times for 31 of the 60 laps. Harvick pulled out on the final lap to make his bid for the victory. Then Kasey Kahne pulled out of line to make it three-wide. After the race, Harvick was informed while sitting in the Fox Sports 1 studio as an analyst for the second race that his Chevrolet, sponsored by Budweiser, had failed post-race inspection for the first Budweiser Duel. "Yeah, well, well, thats no good," Harvick said. ' ' '

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