Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why does Major League Baseball even bother playing the All Star Game?

Major League Baseball's All Star Game has become nothing more than a silly exhibition game at this point. It's almost as a bad as the NFL's Pro Bowl.

Some of the players don't seem to approach the game as a competition. Just a different generation, perhaps. People and culture change, so maybe today's players just don't feel the same type of emotion about the All Star games as those 40, 50, and 60 years ago.

Then there's the money factor. Today's players earn so much in salary that the extra dollars that they collect from winning the All Star Game is almost insignificant. Why expend the energy and risk getting injured for a small amount of money? Forty years ago, those extra bucks could mean something to a player.

Inter-league play that began in 1997 has also diluted the excitement surrounding the All Star Game, as well as the World Series. It used to be that fans would see players from the American and National Leagues compete against each other only in the World Series and the All Star Game, so the midsummer classic had more drama and intrigue. Now that we've seen mixing of the leagues, the All Star Game has lost some of its luster. Even the Yankees-Mets rivalry isn't as intense anymore. Back in the early 1980's George Steinbrenner put a halt to the annual New York Mayors Trophy game between the two teams because it was so upsetting for him to have the Yankees lose to the Mets. Today, it's just another series against another team. Ho-hum.

The All Star game began feeling more like an exhibition in 1997 when pitcher Randy Johnson let a pitch fly over Larry Walker's head, just as entertainment, since Walker had previously expressed his fear in standing in the batter's box against the hard throwing lefty.

Major league's baseball's All Star Game accelerated its downward slide due to two incidents in 2002. Outfielder Tori Hunter made a sensational catch on a fly ball hit by Barry Bonds, robbing Bonds of a home run. Bonds picked up Hunter on his way off the field, with the two laughing. That display enforced the idea that the players weren't taking the game as seriously.

Then when Bud Selig ended the game in a tie, due to both sides running out of pitchers, the All Star game was seen as somewhat of a farce. Managers Joe Torre and Bob Brenly felt it was more important to get everyone on their rosters into the game - meaning winning the game was on the back burner.

Selig's lame attempt to instill some competition into the All Star game by declaring the winning league would have home field advantage in the World Series hasn't had much of an effect. Why would a player from a last place team even care about that? And, what if he was traded by the July 31 deadline to a team in the other league that had a shot at the postseason? Where would his allegiance be then?

Inter-league play has become meaningless and should be ended. For the All-Star game, give the players on the winning team a ton of money, like $300,000 each. Players on the losing team would only get $15,000. That would make them compete and take it seriously. Maybe then it would again become the Midsummer Classic.


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