Take a bow, San Francisco. You absolutely nailed it.
Hosting big-league baseball’s All-Star Game is a massive undertaking. From dealing with built-in logistical nightmares to the impossible task of pleasing all of the many and various tied-in partners, it’s the kind of thing that can cast a city in the best or worst possible light.
But the greatest city in the world, the City by the Bay, with no small assist from the Giants’ organization, pulled it all off with aplomb. The City could not have come out of All-Star week looking any better.
The presentation, the preparation, the organization and hospitality were given across-the-board kudos from every interested faction. And the fans themselves? A more enthusiastic and well-behaved bunch you’re unlikely to find at any other major sporting event.
How well did it all go over? Not only did citizens roundly praise the SFPD — which has taken more than its fair share of lumps over the past couple of years — for its courtesy and professionalism throughout the Friday-to-Tuesday extravaganza, but the nation’s baseball media came away from the experience with nary a legitimate gripe.
Given the basic jaded nature of journalists, that, good people, is the true measure of success.
FanFest was a massive hit. Yes, the lines were long. But they moved at a brisk pace and that’s all one can ask of those charged with handling such a popular attraction. And once inside, baseball’s fans of all ages and walks of life were blown away by the smorgasbord of history, interaction and, of course, commerce.
The street closures around the park had fiasco potential written all over them. Yet people happily parked up to a mile or more away, were rarely gouged financially for doing so and actually seemed to have a good time hoofing it to our jewel of a ballpark on the water.
The events at AT&T Park? Off without a hitch.
All-Star Sunday, the least appealing of said events by nature, drew large and fawning crowds. The criminally underrated Futures Game kicked it off and the typically saccharine Legends and Celebrity Softball Game proved genuinely sweet, thanks in large part to the wise decision to make former Giants and A’s greats, as well as Niners legend and game MVP Jerry Rice, a big part of it.
And let’s be real here, boys. Watching Rice and Rollie Fingers go yard is nice, but watching Alyssa Milano, Ms. Tweeden and Miss USA do anything is nicer still.
The Home Run Derby? McCovey Covers might have been bummed, but nobody in the yard seemed to be — Bonds or no Bonds.
And the All-Star Game itself? Three words: Willie Mays, Ichiro. Unqualified success.
Take a bow, San Francisco. You’ve reset the bar. And good luck to New York and the Yankees next year as they try to clear it. It won’t be easy.
Mychael Urban is the author of “Aces: The Last Season On The Mound With The Oakland A’s Big Three — Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito” and a writer for MLB.com. He also hosts the weekend edition of “Sportsphone 680” on KNBR (680 AM).
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