Even if you are an avid American League fan, last week's All-Star exhibition was a total bore – especially, if you prefer a slugfest with plenty of high-octane offense. It was even difficult coming up with a legitimate Most Valuable Player.
The Yankees' Mariano Rivera was probably deserving of the recognition but it seems he received the award more out of sentimentality than a great performance. Rivera was not the only pitcher that tossed a perfect 1-2-3 inning during the contest.
It is unfortunate that this once glorious exhibition game has become the deciding factor as to which league has the home field advantage during the World Series. That's ridiculous! The NBA has it right – the team with the best won-loss record in the regular season holds the home court edge throughout the playoffs.
The NFL almost has it right but the almighty dollar dictates that the Super Bowl is played in a neutral site. That gives the host site plenty of time to prepare for party time and the big bucks but that is an entirely different column subject matter.
There, of course, are lots of good things about baseball's All-Star game. It still belongs to the fans because they decide the starters. They also decide which potential All-Star makes the final cut. Thank goodness, the fans didn't listen to all that ESPN hype about the Dodgers' rookie Yasiel Puig.
Fans voted in the Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman to fill the NL's last roster spot. Puig had limited at bats and has not even been around the league once. However, the arrogant so-called ESPN experts have practically tagged him the next Joe DiMaggio. Puig needs about 15 more years of consistent hitting under his belt to even be mentioned in the same breath with the Yankee Clipper.
Baseball's All-Star game is still probably the most attractive of all the major professional sports All Star outings. The NBA All-Star game has turned into nothing more than a playground pickup game with the players utilizing a matador defense. It is all about “posterizing” slam-dunks and behind the back passes. Slam-dunks are apparently what the fans want and are apparently what the fans get.
Why the NFL even bothers to select defensive players to play in the Pro Bowl is beyond my imagination. The Honolulu scenery is much more attractive than the game. Perhaps the NFL this year has said enough is enough and has finally said goodbye to an exhibition that turned into nothing more than a series of sideline interviews.
I will probably continue to watch baseball's All-Star game each summer for tradition's sake. There are some great memories. I have been watching the game since 1963. I have some great images in my mind of Willie Mays climbing the fence in Cleveland's Municipal Stadium to rob the AL of a home run. Who can forget the Reds' Pete Rose bowling over Indians' catcher Ray Fosse in a close play at the plate with the winning National League run? That play, for all practical purposes, ended Fosse's baseball career.
Another magical moment was when the A's Reggie Jackson swatted a mammoth home run in Detroit's Tiger Stadium to propel the American league to its first All-Star victory in almost a decade.
Expanded roster sizes and the requirements that all teams have an All-Star representative have somewhat dulled the glitter of the mid-summer classic. Players make the All-Star team that don't really deserve to be there.
There was a time when the likes of Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Mays and Sandy Koufax were All-Stars in every sense of the word.
“Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?” laments singer-songwriter Paul Simon in his song, “Mrs. Robinson.”