The midseason classic is upon us, and I feel like it’s time for a little rant…
I love baseball. I’ve watched it as far back as I can remember, with some of my greatest childhood memories being those of watching games with my grandfather as he explained the game to me in ways no other person could. He would rattle off stats about players that no one could have known, except through a love of the game of his own. This was way before stats popped up on your tv every three seconds, and he knew everything about almost every player. This is where my love of baseball was born.
I’ve stuck through the steroid and strike eras, and even though these things have put a sour taste in my mouth, it’s still a sport that draws me back in every time. Having said that, there’s still one thing I can’t stand about the game (or any professional sport, for that matter) – the All-Star Game.
The game simply means nothing. I won’t even get started on the NBA, NHL, or NFL versions, but MLB has really got to drastically alter this event, and by drastic, I mean no game should be played. Sure, it’s fun to watch some of our favorite players go head to head in the same game, but it’s become nothing more than an American Idol episode, meaning it’s simply a popularity contest where the best players don’t necessarily get voted in.
Case in point – you all know me as a HUGE Red Sox fan, and as much as I’d love to see all Sox players make the roster, I would rather they make it on their own merits, or statistics. I won’t vote for all Sox players, because I want to see the best statistical players get their chance. Sure, the fans want to see who they want to see, but it’s too easy to pile on votes for hometown players to get in. As much as I hate the Yankees, however, I cannot and will not deny Aaron Judge as being the greatest player in the game this year. But in the case of my own beloved team, I have to wonder how Mike Moustakas beat out Xander Bogaerts for the final “fan vote”.
A simple internet search will show that Xander has Moustakas beat in virtually every category this season, so why shouldn’t he be on the team showcasing his talents? Perhaps it’s a distaste of the Red Sox, or maybe it’s another reason, but as good as Moustakas might be, Xander is clearly the better player this year by a considerable amount, and the All-Star game should be reserved for the players with the best stats.
Now, I’m not naïve. I know that’s not how it works, but maybe it should work that way. Or I say again…don’t play the game at all.
Last night’s Home Run Derby showed why the mid-season break is so special. The power on display left me in awe, (not to mention that perfectly timed lightning strike in the background as the ball sailed into oblivion), and the battles between each pair were as fun to watch as anything I can remember in recent years. I was literally cheering and clapping in my living room – and yes, even for that dreaded Yankee Aaron Judge. Why? Because it was fun to watch and I’m a fan of the game, not just the Sox. The whole weekend should be comprised of events like that. Pitchers should have targets set up at home plate that they try to break (similar to the NHL skills competition), and infielders and outfielders should have an event where they try to throw a ball into a bucket from a great distance away. Sure, I’m just grasping here, but it would be more fun to watch than the game that means nothing.
The All-Star/Celebrity softball game last night was even fun to watch. I’m not saying the major leaguers should play softball, but I’m sure there’s enough brain power in the MLB front office to come up with four to five hours of events that can be entertaining to fans. This whole stupid notion of whichever side wins gets home field advantage sickens me. I’m not a true believer that home field advantage means a whole lot, but why should a team that busted their ass all year lose that advantage because of a meaningless July game? Plus, how much cooler would it have been last year if the Cubs won game 7 at Wrigley?
Perhaps MLB should make it a standard that, by the break, the top three best statistical players at each position make the All-Star game. Then, we get the best players no matter what. The fans can then get a few votes to get other players in, but at least it will be the best players making the roster. Popular doesn’t have the same meaning as All-Star. I’m not interested in seeing someone make the team because they live in a bigger market than others. If MLB really wants this game to mean something, then it should be on the players to perform their way into the game on their own.
Or then again…maybe my friend Tim and I can propose an epic whiffle ball duel between the pros. I know I’d watch that!
As always, thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading!