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The MLB All-Star Game is around corner, yet the event, once heralded by speculation and excitement, has been replaced by one which draws little more than indifference from casual fans. From the selection process all the way to the actual game, the flaws surrounding this event make it a no-competition when it comes to the NBA All-Star game and even the…gulp…Pro Bowl (At least people care about who gets chosen, something that MLB can’t say).
The result? MLB’s Summer celebration surrounding its biggest stars, is completely burnt out.
A lot of people have gripes about fans voting for the starters but, to be honest, I don’t think that the “experts” (ex. players, coaches, etc.) do much better. Rather, what is more alarming is the sheer number of players selected to participate in the game. What was once a snub, became the 30th man, which is now the 34th man. Where does it end? At least 68 players currently receive All-Star honors. Throw in injuries and whatnot and that number could be as high 80. MLB says that this is the best of the best, but what I see is watery Kool-Aid.
(And my opinion on the “one-player from each team makes the game” rule? If you’re the Kansas City Royals, you should be rewarded with the mercy of contraction, not an All-Star.)
For a league lacking in star power that seems like a lot of “All-Stars.” Part of this is due to the apparently confusing distinction between having a “good year” and having an “all-star year.” In the NBA there are certainly more than 24 good players. However, by keeping the game selective, it is the truly great ones that get in. As an added bonus of this, the fans usually make the right choices (Just disregard the next 10 years when Jeremy Lin is a starting guard). Sure, 50-something players make the Pro Bowl, but only a few at each position.
If either of these leagues’ All-Star games were managed by MLB, Kendrick Perkins would have four or five all-star selections to his name and every starting quarterback in the NFL would be playing in the Hawaii. Good seasons do not merit all-star awards. All-Star level seasons do. What happens when this line of thinking reaches the Hall of Fame? It could already be too late. I’m sorry, but Paul Konerko’s name should never be brought up in a Hall of Fame conversation.
But, Sammy Sosa shouldn’t make it either. And that’s on principle.
The sad thing is that even if the most deserving players fill up all 60,000 slots on the roster, the game would still be boring. Chris Sale, Asdrubal Cabrera, Joel Hanrahan. Who? You know why no one really made a huge fuss about the Jarrod Saltalamachia snub? Because he’s a generic catcher who probably won’t be in the league seven years from now. The same can be said for a number of the guys actually playing in the game. It’s a real dilemma.
In the NFL and NBA talented players are stars. For a variety of reasons, it’s not the same in baseball. It begs the question: Would the game be more entertaining if only marketable, but not necessarily deserving players like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Ichiro played? A lot of people probably wouldn’t like the answer.
Even the in game, mechanics are flawed. Another absurdity that results from inviting every baseball player and their two kids to the All-Star game is the substitutions made every two outs. You don’t need a 34-man team to complete a game. You don’t even need 25. Try 15. But no, MLB has got it right. Even though everyone complains that baseball games are an hour too long, why not make pitching changes during the sport’s representative showcase to stretch it out another hour and a half?
And just a thought, but if a player is afraid to play three extra innings, he probably shouldn’t be burdened with the honor of an All-Star selection. But maybe if you bought him a six pack, a bucket of fried chicken, a yacht ride, and some fancy headphones that could make up for it.
Tags: MLB All-Star Game