Thursday, July 14, 2011

Oh (No) Starry Night

There was big "hoo ha" over this year's major league baseball All-Star game. 

And not because the National League won 5-1. 

It seems that nobody watched, with ratings hitting a record low.  Baseball meets C-Span. 

A few years ago Commissioner Bud Selig made the idiotic decision to give home field advantage in the World Series to the winner of the All-Star game, thinking it would make the game more competitive. 

Not so much.  Players barely care about the game.  They certainly don't identify with their league.  I doubt the Cubs Starlin Castro will gush with pride, knowing he contributed to NL home field advantage, as he watches the World Series from his couch.

"See Kids,"  I can picture Grandpa Castro saying one day to his little ones, "My league won a practice game, which is why the other 162 games mean bubkes."

One player is required from each team, another silly rule. Did Chicagoans tune in solely to watch the White Sox Ray Durham in 1998?  I can't tell you the first thing about Florida's Gabby Sanchez (this Marlins lone All-Star this year), and I suspect most of south Florida wouldn't recognize him if they shared a cab. 

I like the MLB All-Star game because it's mid season, players wear their real uniforms and it is fun to see guys like Josh Hamilton and  David Ortiz on the same team.  The home run derby is cool. 

As an aside, when did we start playing baseball in glorified water parks?  Watching a fan dive into the center field swimming pool during this year's home run contest reminded me of an inflatable gorilla on top of a car dealership.  Anything for attention, deficit. 

The All-Star game is getting out of hand.  This year over 82 players were "selected" for the game, a new record.  In 1980 only 60 players were named. 

Think about it. 82 players from 30 teams.   The American League had 19 pitchers.  Are you telling me with a straight face that nearly 40 pitchers are worthy of being an All-Star? 

Here's the rub - rosters have exploded because the reaction of many players to being selected is "non moi" (not me).

Players are voted in by fans or named by managers and opt out.  In the case of Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia, he declined faster than he could drop a dime to his agent.  So did Derek Jeter, fresh off becoming the newest member of the 3000 hit club.

Jeter claimed injury and exhaustion, while Sabathia pitched the Sunday prior. 

It's lame.  Growing up, at least players acted like they wanted to play.   And since when did "not playing" mean "gone fishing?"  Can't an injured player show up and tip his hat to the fans who fund his Robin Leach lifestyle?

Some ideas to revive the Midsummer Classic:

Since players have contracts with bonuses for making the All-Star team (some up to $250,000), how about they only get the bonus for appearing at the game?

How about deducting $5 from the ticket price for each player who "opts out"? 

What happened to Old Timers Games?  New rule - when an All-Star declines to play, we will replace him with a player from the "Senior Tour."  No Derek Jeter?  Ernie Banks is ready.  If C.C. Sabathia won't pitch, let's give Nolan Ryan a chance to lay some chin music on Prince Fielder. 

If he misses, I'd pay to see the aftermath.