Breaking Balls: Ranting and raving about the All-Star Game
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Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is upon us. The game is also known as the Midsummer Classic – but I like to call it: “The Magical Good Time Super-Fantastic Midsummer Baseball Classic™.”
Baseball’s version is by far the most interesting of all the major sports All-Star games. It’s the only All-Star game where the players actually play the game the way they would play a regular season or playoff game – mostly because the have to. In basketball, the All-Star games become scoring competitions that are just glorified games of H.O.R.S.E. with no one bothering to play any defense. In football, they add “protective” rules to soften the game and prevent unnecessary injuries. And in soccer, the players wear a special kind of pantyhose that doesn’t scuff their pedicures.
However, in baseball, you have to play full speed. You have to pitch full speed. You have to swing at full speed. And you have to defend. It’s a game wherein lollygaggers are not trifled.
Baseball’s All-Star Game is a celebration of the sport and serves as an acknowledgement of the exceptional performances, both short- and long-term, by players. It also acts as sort of the unofficial kick off for the second half of the season and, with basketball and hockey done, it’s really the only major sport happening.
They call it the “all star” game but looking at the rosters, you might be better off calling it the “some stars” game. I was going to do an article about what players deserve to be All-Stars this season because so often players get snubbed and players are chosen who should not be there unless they are friends with an actual All-Star and said friend just happened to have an extra ticket. But the problem with an article like that is that it requires a bit of “research” – and I think we all know that ain’t gonna happen.
Then I thought, “You know what would be fun is to compare athletes to actors and make comparisons with their personalities, career arcs, etc.” But there are a lot of All-Stars. They start with 34 for each league – that’s 68 dudes. That would be a lot of actor comparisons, and I don’t think you or I am up for that. Not to mention, there are the injury replacements and that gets us up near 80. That’s a lot. Check your email, at this rate you might be the next person they add to the roster.
The funny thing is, even at 80 players, there are still quite a few guys who got overlooked for the teams. Recently the league has tried to change the way players are picked so the “injustices” are avoided. Yes, “injustice” might seem a bit strong, but imagine if you were a baseball player and you were having a great season and you weren’t selected to the All-Star Game so you had to take a four-day vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands and cry yourself to sleep on your giant money pillow?
Beyond the pure ego concerns of being chosen as an All-Star, most players get some sort of bonus, and having been selected would probably increase the player’s eventual free-agent value as well as slightly improving their odds in the season-ending awards and eventually their Hall of Fame consideration. But, with all that considered, really it’s about the ego.
Every year there are these “mistakes” and “snubs” – but the source of these problems is laziness. The fans pick their favorite players – that’s okay with me. However, when the managers and players make their picks, it’s hard to tell if any of them even know the difference between who’s playing well and who has a recognizable name. That’s just laziness.
Okay, you know what, I am going make this column about who should or shouldn’t be there. And that’s going to mean doing some research – and I’m going to do it to prove that I am not like one of these lazy players or managers when it comes to picking who should be an All-Star – though I may be lazier than them in literally every other aspect of life.
The key to writing a column complaining about the All-Star selections is waiting until right before the game, because with all the injury replacements and pitchers who can’t play because they pitched recently, you don’t really know who actually made the team until just a day or two before, and then all the ranting and raving and chastising you were doing about Jake Peavy not making the team is all just so much gas, because he just got named to the team Sunday.
So, let’s get started with the ranting and the raving and the chastising. If I don’t mention a player here just assume it’s because he deserved to be on the team (or my research skills failed me).
American League of Un-extraordinary Gentlemen
Mike Napoli (catcher) – This one is really the fault of the fans. He is the All-Star team’s starter. Yikes. Do you remember before the summer of last year when Napoli was considered a slightly above-average hitting catcher with below-average defensive skills? Well, it looks like that version of Mike is back and he’s having an awful year. But for a few months last year, he was a hitting machine and he helped the Rangers get to the World Series. Now he’s taking up the place of an All-Star.
Derek Jeter (shortstop) – Another one that’s on the fans as Jeter was voted onto the team as a starter. Again. Despite unimpressive offensive and defensive statistics. Again. “But, Jed, he had an awesome April.” True, but there are also other months where games were played in which he was mostly an un-awesome participant. Jeter does bring star value to the game. (There! I said something nice.)
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