This One Counts. … So?: All-Star Game Postmortem

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.

9 comments… add one
  • We’re we watching the same game? Jeter got bigger cheers than Papi, and Arod wasn’t booed he got the same low level polite applause that everybody else except Pirate players got. Your obvious bias is affecting your senses namely your hearing and your common. Why would Pitt fans give Ortiz a big cheer what does he do for them, also why would they boo Arod he’s never played in Pitt before? You Sox fans are truly delusional.

    Bozo July 12, 2006, 8:44 am
  • I’m not sure I agree with this in its entirety. Watching the best, or some of the best, pitchers in the two leagues strut their stuff for a couple of innings against the best hitters in the game is pretty fun. Last night’s game may have dragged a bit, but that’s just the nature of baseball. And it seems to me you can’t claim the players aren’t trying or that it doesn’t matter and then also claim that a guy like Penny goes out there and amps it up to 98 45 times. Clearly he wanted to impress. I think the players want to put on a good show on the big stage, and they do a great job of it, for the most part. I love watching their camaraderie in the dugouts (Cano and Papi: BFF!). In the old days, when the game was viciously competitive, this didn’t happen so much. But now the game is a celebration, and it’s actually kind of nice. If it started at a reasonable hour, it would be even better.

    YF July 12, 2006, 9:18 am
  • YF: I’m kind of iffy on the game from an adult fan’s perspective, but I think you hit the key issue regarding start time.
    This game should be played on a stage for the young fans of the game. They deserve to see the big names on one stage, and not be sent packing off to bed in the top of the second.
    It should start at a much more reasonable hour. I would say 6 pm eastern, 7pm at the latest. Too much of baseball is played at times out of reach of the kids now, and I don’t like it.

    attackgerbil July 12, 2006, 11:03 am
  • Bozo, you obviously have not been paying attention the last few days — the Yankees get booed everywhere because they’re the *Yankees* and Papi gets cheered because he’s the biggest and most likable player in the game right now (he and Pujols). He also received the biggest cheer during the home-run derby, so much so that ESPN commentators remarked on it. If you’ve missed the countless discussions of both these phenomena, I’m afraid that’s your problem.
    Like I said, who got cheered and booed would have been easier to understand without Fox’s dumb graphics and sound effects, but A-Rod got boos — mixed with cheers, yes, but boos nonetheless.

    Paul SF July 12, 2006, 11:05 am
  • I’ll grant you that, YF. I was up past my newly imposed bedtime last night, so I might have been a little cranky. It is fun to see pitchers let it all go for an inning or two. But this game in particular seemed to drag on, not helped by the midgame ceremony, the late start time (8:45 ET?? Give me a break!) Players who go do seem to enjoy it. There are enjoyable moments in it. But still, a lot of it just seems so Foxed, trying to turn it into this exciting, thrilling, meaningful game, when really, it wasn’t so much.

    Paul SF July 12, 2006, 11:14 am
  • And now Bud Selig has suggested he will push for a new rule barring all All Star pitchers from being in a game the Sunday before the All Star game.
    Under NO circumstances should an All Star game effect regular season baseball games as that rule would.

    TJ July 12, 2006, 11:15 am
  • The funny thing is, it might have been a less enjoyable game because “so much” was riding on it. Guillen clearly played to win, and for him that meant fewer at bats for players like Mauer, who i was really interested to see, no Papelbon, etc. And of course, Garner is Garner. Not playing Nomar was really wrong. And Clemens seemed strangely absent. Not to mention one Mr Bonds.
    As for the A-Rod thing, I thought the reception for him was mixed. Papi, though, was cheered. I think the last few weeks have really been a coming out party for him with the general public. The embrace of Papi by the entire world has been something fun to watch, even for a Yankee fan. It’s hard not to love the guy, and baseball needs more guys like that.
    Speaking of, I can’t imagine Papi (or Jeets) head-butting anyone in the chest in a big game. And I don’t think there’s a 155 pound little footie dweeb who’d have the cojones (or whatever they call them over there in italy), to say anything about his mother. But maybe it helps to carry a really big bat.

    YF July 12, 2006, 11:23 am
  • I found the game, minus the late start and mid-delay, reall enjoyable this year. It’s really too bad that they can’t bring themselves to start it earlier and have the special ceremonies take place before the game.

    walein July 12, 2006, 12:15 pm
  • It’s amazing to hear some of the ESPN guys (including Boston’s own Jackie McCullen saying that France was right to cheer him upon his return, and that he “just made a mistake.” I don’t care how intense it is on the field, trash talking is part of every game. If you can’t handle it, you’re not worth very much to your team.

    Paul SF July 12, 2006, 12:31 pm

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