|We don't need the All Star Game anymore||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on July 10, 2012
And for a little boy it was a great game to watch.Â As I grew to adulthood the game still meant something.Â At the very least it was entertaining and generated plenty of water cooler type discussions and allowed us to compare AL and NL hitting and pitching head to head.
Photo by Eric Molina, used under creative commons license.
But as the years have passed the idea, the great exhibition game has been diluted, corrupted and become less and less relevant to the devoted fan.Â It has become an anachronism.Â
Baseball sells nostalgia. Itâ€™s at the heart of MLBâ€™s marketing schemes.Â The legends of Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Cy Young and Henry Aaron are the mythos of the game.Â Names like Mantle, DiMaggio and Josh Gibson and colorful nicknames such as the Big Train, Flying Dutchman and the Iron Horse are revered as part of baseball legend.Â Every kid who becomes a real fan of the game will learn those names and know them throughout their life.Â Â Baseball sells the past to fans and thus insures its future.
But the modern All-Star Game isnâ€™t nostalgic, or even particularly memorable.Â If you ever hear someone talk about the â€śGreat All-Star Game of theâ€ť 80s, 90s or 2000s youâ€™ve either been listening to color commentators or you should have bought a lottery ticket -- cause youâ€™ve certainly defied the odds.
Year after year the magic has been sapped.Â Television took away the novelty of the All-Star game perhaps being the one chance that a National League fan might have had to see American League stars (or vice versa) back in the day when the only way of seeing the game would have actually been to attend.Â Now we can watch every game and player, not to mention thousands of clips, from almost anywhere in the globe.
Interleague play took the magic from seeing the rare head-to-head match ups even at the ballpark.Â Want to see the Red Sox?Â Well if you live in an NL town you should see them roughly every three or four years.Â Same for just about any team that plays in the league your hometown nine doesnâ€™t belong to.
Money and the idea of free agency sapped a lot of the competition from the game too.Â Players in the 40â€™s, 50â€™s 60â€™s and even the 70â€™s really wanted to win.Â Today with huge guaranteed contracts, the transience of players and sense of fraternity has made the All-Star game into far more of a gentlemanâ€™s game than it ever was in the past.Â Not even the â€śprizeâ€ť of home field advantage for the winning league means much.Â In fact as the 2002 All-Star Game proved, baseball itself didnâ€™t even really care if there was a winner.
Sure theyâ€™ve changed the rules to account for that, but really whoâ€™s excited about the All-Star Game anymore?Â Ten days from now more people will remember that Prince Fielder won the home run derby yesterday than who wins the game tonight.
The All-Star Game has certainly lost its luster.Â Except maybe for the kids.Â And maybe in fact that should be the most important demographic for this game.Â For them this game, and getting to see all the stars on the same field, still holds some degree of wonder.Â But itâ€™s clear MLB doesnâ€™t think much of the allowance and weekend job demographic.Â Money clearly talks and since kids donâ€™t have it, the game is scheduled to start at 8:15PM and wonâ€™t end until after most of the kids on the east coast are long abed.
It seems a shame that a largely irrelevant exhibition game would be played at a time when the group whoâ€™d most want to watch it wonâ€™t get to see it end.
What was once a great idea, and one that fascinated fans, has become a bit of a circus, where actual baseball, meaningful baseball, has lost its relevance to the media frenzy of the All-Star Game hype machine.Â Today what the All-Star Game really is is an interruption of a perfectly good baseball season, which neither inspires awe, nor qualifies as must-watch television.Â