tclakin

MLB All-Star Game: Old News?

In Uncategorized on July 14, 2009 at 1:57 pm

The 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game kicks off at 8 tonight (Fox) from Busch Stadium in St. Louis. This begs the question,

Does anybody care?

Personally, I always enjoy the All-Star game but I get the sense that its relevance is close to going up in smoke. Sure, the winning team’s league gets home field advantage in the World Series, but even that dose of significance hasn’t changed what can only be called a broken format.

Years ago, players – and more importantly, managers – actually cared about the outcome of the All-Star game. You had pitchers going more than one inning, position players playing the whole game, and managers coaching to win. You had guys like Pete Rose bowling people over on the base paths. Today, the best pitchers pitch one inning – two max – under the guise of “not hurting themselves,” while position players rotate every other inning. This is why we had the 2002 All-Star game end in a tie, after both teams ran out of pitchers and the 18 million dollar man, Allan (I refuse to call him Bud anymore) Selig, was caught with his pants down and no backup plan. And, instead of fixing the problem by trimming the rosters and letting the best players – the actual All-Stars – decide the outcome of the game, Allan brilliantly decided to expand the rosters to a bloated 33. It’s like the PR-challenged Selig thought, Hey, why don’t we just give everyone a chance? The fans will love it!

But what kind of solution is that? Adding players isn’t going to get the job done. In fact, only one thing will: money. Think about it – what drives the business of sports in the modern age?

Dollar signs.

We can bemoan it all we want – and we do, rueing the day that free agency and naming rights took over the game and stomped on the American flag – but facts are facts. Professional athletes like money and they like respect, and in their world respect is measured by money. It’s a vicious cycle, but play into both of those needs, and bingo, you have a hotly contested All-Star Game. Until Major League Baseball’s big shots decide to scrap the ridiculous – and frankly, unfair – home field advantage clause and add some kind of enormous financial incentive to the winning team, the annual All-Star Game will remain a goofy, irrelevant sideshow. Not exactly what real baseball fans want.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we’re going to get; this year, at least.

Yet, when 8 o’clock rolls around tonight, I’ll reluctantly grab the remote and flip the channels until I get to the game. I always do, every year. And I’ll grit my teeth and try to enjoy it because, at the end of the day, it’s still baseball and I love the game. But though I’ll watch, it won’t be without reservation and certainly not without regret. Forty years ago, the MLB All-Star game was a major sporting event. Today, it’s merely a silly exhibition masquerading as a steroid guessing-game. We have only Allan H. Selig and the passage of time to thank for that.

But, I’m curious: What do Game Six readers think?

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  1. I think last night the players proved they are playing for something and it’s not just a showcase for the fans. Players were hustling and playing to win. In previous years the All Star game was not a fan favorite but I think the players really want to reel fans back in and show the world that not all MLB players are steroid users. All in all the game was entertaining and very fast moving which made it an enjoyable game to watch.

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