Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I've finally been convinced. The All-Star Game is an anachronism

As my formative years were in the 70's, I was lucky to see 1 televised ballgame a week, between NBC's Saturday "Game of the Week," or the occasional Tigers broadcast. So the All-Star Game was a big damn deal to me, as I rarely got to see the Tigers, let alone mysterious National Leaguers like Aaron, Bench, and Seaver.

I'm old enough to have watched live one of the more prominent examples of the ASG's importance, Pete Rose essentially ending Ray Fosse's career as an effective player by running him over to win the 1970 game. The ASG actually meant something then, but didn't determine anything more than bragging rights. It was truly the "Midseason Classic."

Once upon a time, you'd run over your mother, let alone a catcher, to win the All-Star Game

That's no longer the case. To see the ASG in a long, slow downward spiral is a shame.

There is no good reason for the winner to get home field in the World Series. No matter how important the ASG is, in the end, it's only an exhibition, nothing more. Using the ASG is just as stupid as MLB's previous way of dealing with home field, by alternating leagues. Just give it to the team with the best overall record, how hard is that to figure out?

Obviously, it's too difficult for Bud-lite.

Then there is the issue of the players themselves. Some play as though they couldn't give a shit. Witness David Ortiz's leisurely stroll down the 1st base line on a ground ball to 2nd in the 1st inning. Or Alex Rodriguez daintily rounding 3rd on a Pudge Rodriguez single, and being thrown out by 10 feet. A-Rod ran the bases as if he was didn't want to dirty his flashy white shoes.

A-Rod has experience in running the bases daintily in big games

There is also the roster issue. I don't need to see representatives from every team. It's only for appearances sake. Your team doesn't have a player good enough to be a true All-Star? Tough shit. You don't get to send a warm body.

Any realistic fan would tell you that the Tigers didn't have a deserving player in the vast majority of seasons between 1993 and 2005, or going back further, during those ugly seasons in the mid 70's. As a Tigers fan, I'm much more embarrassed that stiffs the like of Robert Fick and Dmitri Young represented the Tigers as "All-Stars" (Term used very loosely), than I ever would have been if there wasn't a representative from Detroit at all.

The fact that Fick's Baseball Reference page will say "All-Star" forever, is felonious

We all know the fan vote isn't worth arguing about, so I'm not going to. I'll just say that in an era where you can see every team play on any given night, you'd think the fans would make more educated choices. But we're all biased homers at heart, so the fan vote will always be exactly what it is, a popularity contest.

There's also the fear factor. The fear that someone is going to get hurt, the aforementioned Ray Fosse being one of the more prominent examples. No one wants to see a team's season ruined in an exhibition game. Don't tell me you weren't concerned by Placido Polanco playing through his back injury. Or Justin Verlander nearly taking a Ryan Howard liner in the face during the home run derby.

Fosse was never the same player after being leveled by a running like he was being chased by a bookie's kneebreaker Charlie Hustle.

Speaking of such, TV is a huge culprit in ruining the ASG. For a game that's supposed to be for the fans, and many of those fans are kids, why in Hell start the game at 9pm? Much as it does in the post season, the ASG didn't end till close to midnight eastern time. Most working adults won't stay up that late to watch an exhibition, let alone kids.

The once entertaining home run derby has become nothing more than a showcase for Chris Berman spewing his annoying "Back, back, back," and Joe Morgan being unable to spew anything relevant. After 3 long hours of that insanity, fans should be rewarded for their misery.

Instead, we get punished by being subjected to FOX's Jeannie Zelaskow during the overlong and overwrought ASG pregame. Her braying is enough to make the most diehard baseball fan turn the channel, if not plunge icepicks in your ears. What FOX sees in her is way beyond me...

The thought that both the worldwide leader and FOX believed that it was necessary to put Kenny Mayne and Eric Byrnes, respectively, in kayaks out in McCovey Cove goes to show how creatively bankrupt the networks have become. (Then again, the WWLiS thinks the ESPY's are a good idea, 'nuff said)

In fact, the only smart thing I saw over the past couple of days on the networks was Byrnes' bulldog trying to make a break for it, and swim towards parts west. That fiasco almost caused FOX to miss the most exciting action of the game, Ichiro's inside the park home run. Let's watch a poor dog swim to freedom instead...

If you had to look at that hair every day, you'd have made a break for it too

The All-Star game, at least in it's current form, could go away, and not be missed. It's an anachronism from another time, and it's time has now passed.

It's become nothing more than an excuse for MLB to pimp itself to the networks and advertisers, for the players to earn contract bonuses while going through the motions, and to bleed fan wallets dry.

The 2nd half of the regular season can't start soon enough...


  1. We're just lucky we didn't get treated with an all-star game special of 'Who's now?'. Berman vs. Fisherman's Wharf sea lion would be a good match-up though.

  2. My money's on Berman. He'd eat the sea lion whole.

    God, that "who's Now" is the cumulation of all that is wrong and evil with the worldwide leader. Never speak of it again...

  3. Amen. I went to bed early because I hadn't been so bored in a long time.

  4. The only saving grace was the eventful bottom of the 9th. I felt for Jim Leyland, having to watch another bullpen implode. But I do agree, overall, the 2007 ASG was a snoozer.

  5. You nailed it, Big Al. I blame Tim McCarver for all that is wrong with MLB. He is a pompous butt-head. I was marginally happy when Fox got the Series, All-Star Game, and GOW because it meant no more McCarver on baseball--surely NBC would give him a great gig covering rodeo or poker, wouldn't they? But, no, he ran to Fox so he could keep doing baseball.

    And "Who's Now." Treat it as the World Wide Leader's way of sliding Stuart Scott out the door. Stump the Slob didn't do it, maybe this will. Maybe they'll ease him into horse racing the way they did Kenny Mayne so that he and Hammering Hank Goldberg can date.

    Or, they can give Berman and Scott their own show at 4:00 AM, and they can trade "boo yahs" in the wee hours. Christ, even the people who call Jim Cramer on his extremely loud show have to say "boo yah." Enough of this rant.

    Fix the All-Star game!! Give it to Vin Scully and Ernie Harwell. Kill the Home Run Derby.

  6. I love this post. You absolutely nailed it. I'm guessing we are about the same age. My favorite part of the game now is when they introduce the squads.

  7. Thanks Zoner. No kidding, once they introduce everyone, you night just as well change the channel.

    Uncle Omar, what FOX sees in McCarver is beyond me. The man is the bane of every MLB fan's existence. The same can be said of all the attention whores working for the WWLiS.