As happens every year, I got excited for this year’s All-Star Game. But steadily, while my excitement peaks just before game time, a nagging feeling in the back of my head asks: "Why?"
Why, indeed? I sat down today with my scorebook, and I seriously considered getting up and installing my brand new DSL (no more dial-up in this household!) three times once Ortiz and Loretta were lifted. I’m glad I stayed — the ninth was exciting. But if this game is supposed to count, it’s hard to see how or why.
- Fox’s pregame intro was the most ridiculous piece of narration and editing I’ve ever seen in the network’s long history of idiotic sports ideas (blue hockey pucks, transformer-like robots).
- One of the things I love is hearing how an All-Star crowd in a given series reacts to various players (A-Rod roundly booed, for example, even worse than A.J. Pierzynski and Kenny Rogers, Papi cheered the most of any non-Pirate). Too bad I could barely hear it because Fox graphics arrived on the screen with a deafening "WHOOSH!" and "CHUNK!"
- As MLB continues to shoot itself in the foot, keeping its best games fromn the children most likely to appreciate them, it wastes 30 minutes in front of the game with pointless pomp, then inexplicably interrupted the game for another 10 minutes with a redundant Clemente ceremony. I switched over to watch the Remys — and that’s not exactly Emmy-winning television either.
- Pitchers’ duels are only interesting when they involve two pitchers. I should have been hanging on the edge of my seat with a 2-1 score. But why should I care that 15 AL hitters could only manage two hits for most of the game against six different pitchers all blowing out their arms hurlin 99 mph because they’re only going to have to throw 20 pitches each? It’s not like I care when five spring trainging pitchers combine for a no-hitter, so why should I care in an equally unimportant game in July? What’s the strategy of Brad Penny throwing 45 98-mph fastballs, getting just enough over the plate for three strikeouts? Big whoop.
- The era of the All-Star Game in every sport has long since passed. Each of the four major sports keeps reinventing their game, trying to recapture a long-lost spark. But it’s too late. Players have stopped trying to win an exhibition at the cost of their own chance for a ring — and rightly so. We’ve seen too many players (Ted Williams for one) go down with injuries in these situations. The players might have ulterior motives (bonuses, incentives, Series shares, etc.), but as a Red Sox fan, I don’t want Manny Ramirez out there if his knee is sore, and how many Mets fans gasped when Beltran landed awkwardly at first in the ninth?
All that to say: This game doesn’t count, no matter what trifle is at stake, and it showed tonight. Even the fans who were there sounded like they couldn’t care less until things got interesting in the ninth. I don’t know what’s more sad — that the game has lost the luster of years past, or that Bud Selig and Fox are still trying to pretend it hasn’t.