The All Star Game Still is Great

The Major League All Star Game is this Tuesday night and I, for one am looking forward to it.  I won’t get a chance to watch much of it (I’ll explain later)  but it nevertheless is one of my favorite sports days of the year.    I still remember hoping to leave the beach early so we could catch the Classic (I believe it was 1981;  Gary Carter winning the MVP with two home runs).   I feel now about it now like I did 30 plus years ago.  It is such a great thing to see all of the best players all on one field, in their own uniforms, even if the game is nothing more than a glorified exhibition game.   I know a lot has changed in the years since I started watching the Mid-Summer Classic, particularly the fact that we have the opportunity to see all of these players every single night as opposed to once or twice per season.  Still, there is nothing that is more Summer than a warm, humid night watching the All Star Game.

Gary  Carter was the MVP of the 1981 All Star Game.   Image:  yahoo.com

Gary Carter was the MVP of the 1981 All Star Game. Image: yahoo.com

Despite what I have heard about the game the last ten days or so, it is still a great game.  It is light years better than the All Star contests of the other sports because it is more of a true indicator of how baseball is actually played as opposed to the other ones where there isn’t a tremendous amount of sweat broken when it comes to defense.  There is much derision about how the contest is tied to the winning League getting home field advantage for the World Series.  I wish they would take that provision away; despite what others say, it was fine before this rule was introduced. 

People also seem to complain about the selection process about who was left off,namely Yasiel Puig.  I heard people say that he is the most electric player and that baseball should have found a way to get him in the game.   Well, the fans decided he shouldn’t get the final vote, that Freddie Freeman who played the entire first half (with a stint on the 15 day disabled list) deserved it more than a guy who played 40 games.   Commentators said that it was just another example of baseball getting things wrong.  This leads me to fume even more about what I have heard recently……

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The ratings decline of the All Star Game, the declining attendance in general and the steroids controversy were all topics of conversation recently.  All of them purport to show Major League Baseball in a bad light.   It got to the point where it seemed MLB was (a) on the verge of losing 60% of their fan base,(b) can do nothing right and (c) need “more spicing up” to revitalize the product.

I have had it.

I already stated I love the All Star Game no matter what stipulations are in place and no matter who bad the selection process is, both by the fans and by the managers.  The attendance problem is not immune to baseball.  Have any of these geniuses noticed the economy still stinks?  That maybe the reason why more empty seats are seen in ALL sports is because the tickets are just too damm expensive?  These people barely say boo when the almighty NFL has large swaths of empty seats in almost every single stadium every single Sunday.  In all the years before the new Meadowlands opened, I never once heard the Jets advertise for fans to buy tickets.  Why?  Because all of the games were sold out.   Now, they have so many commercials looking for season ticket holders that it would make the people who run infomercials for the Juicer blush.  Outside of a select few markets, there are 5,000 empty seats or more at most NBA and NHL arenas.  Yet it is MLB that is the punching bag for media members looking to make a point.

Steroids once again reared their ugly head and once again baseball was put under the microscope.  Look, it stinks there are still players that are trying to gain an unfair advantage by juicing.  However, no other sport gets the scrutiny MLB does when this issue is raised.  No one dares to speculate how many NFL players juice.  Are they afraid of getting their access cut by the league, therefore they can’t speak ill of them?  Yet it is baseball who is made out to be the fool, trying to nab some of the biggest stars of the game.  Even though they are guilty of burying their heads in the sand for far too long, I applaud the effort Bud Selig and Company have made to rid the sport of PED’s.  They should be commended for their efforts not castigated for ridding the game of “what the fans want”, namely home runs.          

Speaking of what fans want,  supposedly baseball’s low ratings can partly be attributed to the fact that a major portion of older fans don’t like the “styling” of certain players.  There needs to be some other forms of entertainment.  My question is, aren’t the players and the games themselves the entertainment?    I consider myself an “older” fan I suppose, but there have been a number of things that have developed recently that I think are pretty cool.  For instance, I think the celebrations after say a game ending hit are pretty fun.  Heroes of the game getting doused by drinks or pies are amusing.   The hand gestures while on base after a big hit are OK.  About the only thing I do not like are bat flips after hitting a home run.  As a I mentioned in a previous blog, fraternization among players isn’t such a bad thing.  So what do people want?  Cartwheels around the bases?  Throwing the ball underhand? 

I wish people would just appreciate the game of baseball instead of consistently complaining about its warts.  If you don’t like it, don’t watch it, don’t cover it.  The game is fine without any meddling from people who claim to know better.

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I mentioned earlier I wouldn’t be watching much of the All Star Game.  That is because I am in Orlando on a business trip.  That stinks for sure and there is one other byproduct of me being away.

I won’t be able to watch the game with my 8-year-old son, Ryan.

Ryan didn’t really start watching and paying attention to baseball until the World Baseball Classic.  He has always been fascinated with countries and could probably indentify the flags of 30-40 different countries.   He has slowly gotten more into Major League Baseball to the point that we will often watch MLB Network’s “Quick Pitch” together.  He loves the bow-and-arrow routine of Fernando Rodney after he records a save.  We look at the All Star Game Rosters together.  I haven’t pushed him into it; Ryan has just started following on his own.  MLB.com is now one of his favorite sites.

I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that I won’t be there to watch the game with him.  I will be with him in spirit and will be thinking of him as I check on the score.  Sorry, buddy.  Go American League!

Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at www.venomstrikes.com

2 Comments

I agree whole-heartedly. For whatever reason, MLB is the media’s favorite punching bag. I don’t get it, and I try to avoid listening to it. I have been an avid baseball fan since it was 10 years old (many years ago!) I have seen many changes some, like PEDs, which have not been in the best interest of the game. Whether it is those reporting sports, or people on the street, one would think the ONLY sport with this problem is MLB. How is it that only the names of MLB players are ever linked to PED scandals, like the current one out of Florida where Boesch is going to cooperate and name names. Really? Unless I am mistaken I have not heard one single name from the NFL, NBA or the NHL. On the plus side baseball has become more “human.” Guys are congratulated, and given a few days off, for the birth of a child. Not like in the old days when they had to suck it up and wait for a day off in the schedule to get home and see their new son or daughter for the first time. Fans can relate and are only to happy to celebrate the good fortune of the player and his family. On another note, while I do not like the results of the All-Star game being directly linked to the World Series, I do think it ups the level of player and managers actually have to manage. After all, isn’t that part of the game?

You are right about a child’s birth, they now have a paternity list. Valid point about upping the level of play but I still don’t like it to be linked to the World Series. Just a personal preference. The players would still try hard.

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