One of the many aspects of baseball that makes it more compelling than any other sport is the annual All-Star Game. While this game is deemed meaningless in other sports, like the NBA and NFL, Major League Baseball does a great job of keeping the tradition going in this midsummer classic.
Many people have criticized the commissioner for his rule that made the All-Star Game decide who gets home field advantage in the World Series. While I wish it wasn’t necessary to make such a rule to increase fan interest and player participation, I believe it was a good decision.
A game that once garnered respect and gave fans a chance to see players they didn’t normally get to watch, baseball has had to look for different avenues to keep the game competitive and interesting.
I think it’s fair to say that baseball has the only All-Star game that carries any meaning and, quite frankly, is the only one anybody watches. The NFL’s Pro Bowl is a joke, and the league is even thinking about cancelling it, with hardly any backlash from fans. While the NBA All-Star Game is fairly entertaining because of all the offense, it’s hardly competitive.
I think we’ve all heard the story of Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star Game. You don’t think it meant something to him? Or in recent memory, I can think of Torii Hunter jumping high over a wall to rob Barry Bonds of a home run. That kind of effort isn’t given in a meaningless exhibition game.
Yes, there are players who view this time as a break and look to get away. But I believe those who are voted in and do attend the game try their hardest and give their all, because you really can’t play baseball without doing just that.
Unlike football and basketball, baseball is a sport where you have to give your best effort when you step on the field. Not many competitors are going to go up to the plate and not try to put the ball in play. And it’s just instinctive to dive for a ball on defense. The days of seeing a collision at home plate in the All-Star Game may be over, but I still see that same hustle and passion during big moments every year.
Another example is when Brian McCann hit a huge three-run double in the 2010 All-Star Game to snap the NL’s long losing streak. You can’t tell me these players don’t care after watching the excitement on his face after that hit.
As a National League guy, I can’t stand the American League. So, for me, this is a game of respect that determines who has the deepest talent. That is also reflected again in the World Series, but this is a better indication of how good each league is.
So while people will hate on this special game and say it’s lost its luster, when you watch this year, look for those moments that will last in your memory for years to come. You’ll realize this isn’t just another game; this is baseball, and it always means something.