By Joshua Nord-@NordJoshua
The All Star game has had its place in baseball for longer than nearly all our lifetimes. Getting its start in 1933 and for many it’s marked the end of the first half to the season, providing a break for players and a rare enjoyment for fans to see all stars of the game on the field at the same time and showing off the skills that make them elite. This once titular event has given baseball fans exactly what they needed in the middle of summer. Whether it was showing off Ted Williams in 1999, Pete Rose bulldozing Ray Fosse in 1970 or Ichiro being Ichiro in his inside the parker in 2007. There’s a lot to love about the events history but lately, there’s been a lot of criticism about legendary event.
“The games pointless now!”
“No one takes it seriously!”
“What if they get hurt?”
The problem is, they aren’t wrong. In 2017 MLB ended the practice of having the All Star Game decide World Series home field advantage. A practice set in place since 2003. Now, a $20,000 payday awaits the winners of the All Star Game. What’s wrong with that?
Like most sports, the games changed in the modern era. Athletes are making more money than ever before and with all that cash why take an exhibition game seriously? Its true that even before players were willing to play it loose on the field. Like Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez suggesting he’d throw friend and Red Sox slugger David Ortiz meatballs for easy home runs or Cardinals Adam Wainwright revealing he gave Yankees Derek Jeter easy pitches for a retirement tour. While I don’t think we’ll see the level of ferocious competitiveness Pete Rose showed ever again, after all athletes aren’t built that way anymore. I don’t think anyone wants to see players taking what’s supposed to be a premium event as a joke and goofing off in front of millions.
This begs the question, how do we fix it?
Don’t despair, the All Star Game even as it stands now is at least watchable to a degree. Certainly more so that the drama laden NBA All Star Game or the absolute joke that is the Pro Bowl. But in the modern world what do players have to try for? Long gone are the days of American League upstarts trying to get one over on the pretentious National League and the idea of the game meaning enough to influence how a world series is formatted is nonsensical. To put it bluntly, the game isn’t going to be anything special, you only need to look at the home run derby to show this trend.
Not one of the top five home run hitters took part in the event and only two in the top ten volunteered for it. The players don’t care, and the risks outweigh the benefits. It’s still a novelty to newcomers such as Rhys Hoskins or last years winner Aaron Judge but eventually they’ll smarten up and realize it isn’t worth the issues that come with changing your stance and swing.
Why bring up an unrelated event the day before? Because that mindset is going to carry over to the game proper. You already have pitchers refusing to take their appearances seriously and it makes sense too. Does any Red Sox fan want to see Chris Sale exhaust himself in a meaningless game? Does anyone want to see Mike Trout injure himself on a catch in the outfield? When will we see more and more starters refuse the honor of an All Star Game start simply because it’s not worth the effort and potential injury?
The All Star Game is a pointless endeavor, the league, even with its notions of tradition, is realizing this. Enjoy it while you can, because every year it will become more and more of a joke.