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FAN OF THE HOUSE

He can't pick most celebrities out of an All-Star lineup

The columnist is game for the plum assignment during baseball's All-Star weekend at Anaheim, if only he knew who was playing. But he does know that Food Network guy. And that supermodel.

July 11, 2010|Chris Erskine

You can just imagine the hissy fits back in the office when it became clear that I was the one assigned to cover the celebrity softball game here in Anaheim on All-Star weekend — me, the new kid on the block, at the front lines of this very prestigious event.

I don't know if you understand newsrooms at all — who does? — but such assignments are usually reserved for the very elite writers, the creme de la cremliest. But on a Sunday like this, I can only guess that they were busy with church, as elite sportswriters often are.

So here I am, at the assignment of a lifetime, trying to distinguish a bunch of C-list celebs from each other. Honestly, could you tell Marcus Giamatti from Kevin Frazier? And if you could, would you even admit it?

Well, if you could, you're a better man than me, for I can't even tell David Nail from Quinton Aaron. Obviously, I've got some work to do here in Anaheim, the City of Motherly Love.

The only one I can tell for sure is that fude dude, Guy Fieri, the busiest guy in television these days, for even I recognize him from the fine work he does on the Food Network, as well as his excellent hosting of ... what's that reality show ... oh, "The Dumb Stuff Dumb People Do," or something along those lines.

Fieri can hit, of that there is no doubt. Hitting is about 90% confidence and 10% luck, and this guy has plenty of both.

Another person who can hit is Marisa Miller, perhaps our best-hitting supermodel. Just like Mike Piazza was the best-hitting catcher of all time, she is the best-hitting supermodel of all time. Just how many times can I get the strangely hypnotic phrase "best-hitting supermodel" in one paragraph? Well, at least three, which has to be an MLB record in itself.

Seriously, if you have Miller in your fantasy league, call me because that's a fantasy league I'd like to be in.

For all the glamour Miller lends to this event, this all-star lineup in Anaheim doesn't quite come close to the Dodgers' own celebrity game taking place Aug. 7, which has scheduled Billy Crystal, Jack Black and Kevin James, though I couldn't pimp an event like that in good conscience without warning you that you'll also have to watch director Rob Reiner swing a bat, and that can't be good for anybody.

Just imagine spending thousands of dollars on private batting instructors for your kid, only to have it undermined by a visual of Meathead trying to dig one out of the dirt, eyes closed. Resilient as they are, I guess kids have gotten over worse things, though nothing springs to mind.

So I guess we'll just have to deal with what we have here today.

The best reason to watch these fluff fests, of course, is to catch up with the former athletes who are also taking part. The bellies are a little bigger, but the gaits are familiar, and it's still a thrill to watch Bo Jackson come to the plate. In the third inning, Jackson launches one that has yet to land. If something splats your windshield this afternoon on the 57 Freeway, it is probably Jackson's homer.

Like the rest of us, Dave Winfield has put on a few pounds since his heyday, as has Rollie Fingers' mustache. Gary Carter is as chatty as ever, and Fred Lynn looks great — trim and happy as a three-handicap golfer ought to be. Before the game, Lynn confesses that his goal for this contest is to:

1) Not mess up his golf swing.

2) Not blow out a hamstring.

Lynn homers, as does nearly everybody else on the field, including this David Nail, who I still couldn't pick out of a lineup.

As so often happens, this celebrity game devolves into a series of onfield interviews, including some pointless schtick with James Denton, who evidently plays a plumber on TV. Consider me an enemy of pointless shtick; I fight it like communism and tooth decay.

By the fourth inning, the minicam is out on the mound and the game has the feel of a minor league contest in which everyone is having a good time. Mascots from seven teams are dancing atop the dugouts and they're flinging T-shirts into the crowd.

"Now batting No. 10 … Andy Richter," the public address announcer sings, and a shiver goes through the crowd.

Anyway, if you care to see this colossal event for yourself, a taped version of the game will be on ESPN on Monday night, following the home run derby. As you know, ESPN is an outfit eager to televise almost anything, the sillier the better.

See, once again, I beat even the networks on the big stories of the day, though a more seasoned reporter probably would have included the final score.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

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