Tuesday, July 5, 2011

All-Star Addiction?

Check out the price, and that's for a Lower Box seat down the line!
I admit it. No matter how awful the selection process, how meaningless the game I still watch baseball's All-Star Game each year. I am an addict. (Although if I did miss it I don't think I'd go into withdrawal.)

I know the game is not what it once was. Apart from the World Series, it used to be the only time you could see the stars from each league face off. And those stars seemed to play it like they wanted to win. There was no cheering when someone made a nice catch to send them back to the dugout. No one left the ballpark after their stint in the game was over to catch the ESPYs. Just thinking about the ESPYs makes the All-Star game seem suddenly important.

Some of that nonsense hasn't been seen the last few years. But the game doesn't have the thrills it used to. My earliest All-Star memory is a vague recollection of the 1969 game. Actually, what I remember most is the dugouts overflowing with rainwater and the game being postponed. They played that game on Wednesday afternoon.

It could be that the 1970 cemented my affinity for the Mid-Summer Classic: Pete Rose scoring the winning run by running over Ray Fosse (who knew he was voted as the starter in '71 despite being injured?) is an iconic moment. I was 11 and there was no doubt the game was for real.

I was at the '75 game at Milwaukee County Stadium. It was Hank Aaron's last appearance as an All-Star and had the odd coincidence of the co-MVPs having similar names: Bill Madlock and Jon Matlack for the National League. I think that was the first time I was sprayed with beer at a ballpark. The guy behind me had managed to get a six-pack and I guess it was shaken, not stirred, on the way in.

Through the years, I've always managed to see the game. When I worked nights I would tape it and watch it later. For several years now I've gotten together with my friend, John, and whoever else wants to watch the game.

It's become more about the tradition and camaraderie than the game. Maybe I'm not addicted after all. This therapy session worked. Thanks for listening.


  1. I think the problem will be for future generations. Sure, there will always be the kids that love to watch no matter what, but I wonder if viewership will go down in the future because the game is relatively meaningless.

  2. That may already have happened to some degree. One day the All-Star break might just be the HR contest and other novelties.

  3. The last good All-Star Game memory was in 1999, and that wasn't for something that happened during the game. It was for the old-timers being introduced, culminating in Ted Williams, and all the old-timers and current stars crowding around him as if he were the baseball equivalent of a holy man. The PA announcer asked the players to get off the field so they could play, and no one wanted to. It was "The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training" in reverse: This celebration of baseball's history was more important than the game.

    As opposed to the last time the game was held in Milwaukee, when Bud Selig screwed it up, in the very stadium he built to feed his greed. And, like in that Bad News Bears film, the fans chanted, "Let them play!" But the old buzzard wouldn't. Every player had been used? He can't change the rules? Yes he can: He's the Commissioner! His word is law! Which is why we need a Commissioner who knows his duty is to the fans, not to the owners.

  4. I generally agree with you. The Ted Williams moment was amazing. But Cal Ripken being moved to SS in 2001 was also a great moment.


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