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Say Hey, it's time to play

Willie_ii SAN FRANCISCO -- Sure, it was a little hokey and sappy. But MLB's tribute to Willie Mays, easily the highlight of the pregame ceremonies, was still pretty cool after all the Barry buildup.  Players from both teams strode out to center field and greeted Mays as he walked in to the loudest ovation of the night, a cheer that far exceeded the one Bonds got when he was introduced.

Mays threw the ceremonial first pitch -- in center field -- to Mets shortstop Jose Reyes and was then paraded around the park in a 1958 Cadillac. He shook hands with the umpires and even flipped a few baseballs into the crowd. So he couldn't get any over the screen. Cut the man some slack -- he's 76! Even liked how the Canadian and U.S. flags on the field got flipped over to pictures of Mays as he made his way through the players accompanied by Bonds and Derek Jeter. It was kind of like everyone meeting Ted Williams on the mound in Boston in 1999.

As for Bonds' intro, he got a 45-second ovation and bowed to all corners of the park. Seemed like the fans wanted to keep going but Fox's Joe Buck, clearly following orders, moved on to the rest of the NL lineup. Hmmm.

MLB lined up the players on the infield rather than the baselines, which has been tradition, so the starters could go up the red carpet through some pyrotechnics. Dodger players got roundly booed. So did Angels reps John Lackey and Francisco Rodriguez (Giants fans are still smarting from the 2002 World Series). What was Indians catcher Victor Martinez doing with his kid in his arms? Ridiculous.

What happened to my 8:42 start? Hey, Fox: Can we start this game finally? Please?

---Mike Harrington

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