MMO Flashback: The All-Star Game… What Exactly Is The Point?

An article by posted on July 10, 2009
In this edition of MMO Flashback, Rob Silverman takes us back to 2009 when the All Star Game was held at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Hometown player Albert Pujols was the leading vote-getter that year followed by the Yankees’ Derek Jeter. David Wright and Carlos Beltran were both voted into the starting lineup, President Barack Obama threw out the first pitch, Sheryl Crow sang the National Anthem, and the American League won the game 4-3. Time flies. Enjoy this flashback.  
More than any other sport, Baseball honors its tradition and its past. The changing of the seasons coincide with the National Pastime. Every Spring, as the weather warms up, ballplayers converge on Florida and Arizona and begin getting in shape and strengthening muscles. Every October, as the temperatures cool and the days shorten, we can feel the World Series in the air. And every July, we take a 3 day break from the rigors of the long season to honor the best players in the game.

Or do we? Do we watch the All-Star Game because we really care? Or simply because it’s something we’ve done every summer since we were kids? In my opinion, I feel that the All-Star Game has lost its luster. Since MLB decided that the winner of the All-Star Game would host the World Series, I believe this has created a huge dilemma.

In 1933 the sports editor for the Chicago Tribune named Arch Ward proposed an outlandish idea. He came up with the notion to have the best ballplayers from each league face each other in an All-Star Game. Initially it was conceived to be a one time event to coincide with the World’s Fair which was being held in Chicago. However, the game proved so popular that a tradition was born.

I grew up in the 1970’s. To a young boy, the All-Star Game was one of my favorite parts of the season. There was no ESPN, no Baseball Tonight and definitely no Youtube. I grew up a Mets fan, watching games on WOR and therefore I knew the NL much better. The guys in ‘the other league’ were only names to me. (Sure, I could have watched Yankee broadcasts but I wouldn’t be caught dead doing that.) The All-Star Game was a magical time. It was the only time of the season I could actually see the stars of the American League. Players like Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, Al Kaline and Carl Yastrzemski suddenly came to life. They were real people and not just a name in a box score. They actually moved, unlike their baseball cards that I studied instead of doing my homework.

Back in the day, prior to free agency, players spent the bulk of their career with one club and in one league. There was not only a team loyalty but also a league loyalty. But times change. Players seemingly switch teams every time they sign a new contract. Of all the players on the 2009 All-Star Game squad, 22 of them have at one time or another played in the other league.

In 2003, Bud Selig and the MLB Players Union decided that the winner of the All-Star Game would host four of the seven World Series games and have home-field advantage. Suddenly, everything changed. For seven decades the game was really nothing more than a celebration of the best talent and just a mere exhibition. Now, however, the game had to be won. It meant something. The All-Star Game now had a huge impact on which team could win the World Series.

Okay, fine, The game has to be won. Since the game has now taken on such huge significance and since a “W” is now crucial, then why stick to the old tradition?

If the point is to win, then lets put the nine best players out there for nine innings and let them go at it? Isn’t that a ‘real’ All-Star Game?

If I want my league to win, then I want my best players out there for all 27 outs. The heck with every team being represented. As an example if a win is so critical, then I better see Tim Lincecum for seven, Trevor Hoffman for one and Frankie Rodriguez to close it out. No need to have Lincecum replaced by Zach Duke after three innings. In a ‘real’ game that would never happen and since this game apparently is now a real game, why should it be played under a different set of rules?

Is the point to win? Yes. Then, why is it necessary to be fair and have each team represented?

I write this tongue-in-cheek. Keeping the nine best players on the field for nine innings would never happen. Imagine the uproar in San Francisco and Toronto if Lincecum and Halladay dueled it out for a full game? Or to bring the point home, imagine how furious we Mets fans would be if Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel decided to start Johan Santana and leave him out there for 120 pitches. How would we feel if our ace ‘wasted’ a start on a meaningless game?

If the powers that be want to add an unknown edge to the World Series why not do this…

Since we now have Inter League play, why not take the tally of all those games played and use that to determine who hosts the World Series?

The league that wins more during Inter League play gets home field advantage. Lets be honest. Normally, we really don’t care what happens when the Cardinals play the Royals or the Angels play the Dodgers. But now, we would.

Lets determine which league is better by an overall head-to-head schedule of games played under normal circumstances. Lets not decide the fate of the World Series based on a single night in July in St. Louis

No matter what, I’ll be watching the All-Star Game tonight. Partially because I hope the NL wins…but also because I’ve done that every July since I was a kid.

About the Author ()

A Mets fan since 1973, Rob was born in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Luckily, his parents moved to Queens at a young age so he was not scarred by pinstripes. Currently living in Las Vegas, he writes crime fiction and mysteries.

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