May 7, 2011

Dave's final word on the All-Star Game.

Editor's note: This will be the final word on the wholly irrelevant matter known as Major League Baseball's All-Star Game. But I am a fair and just blogmaster, and I wanted to give "The Bear Jew" a chance to rebut my rebuttal.

A few days ago, I wrote a piece about the 2012 All-Star Game and my disappointment at it not being held at Fenway Park. Well, King Myno himself didn’t agree with me, and said so in his own post. The gauntlet has been thrown down and the King has challenged his lowly vassal. Prepare to be debated!

I agree with some of the King's points. The Red Sox are overexposed and still under .500 in 2011, but do you really think they will miss the playoffs? Cause I don’t. And our fans? They may be as loud, obnoxious and arrogant as any in the game, but I don’t find that trait to be unique; it's more an unfortunate aspect of the human race. Most people just suck, Sox fans included. And should we really have judgment passed on us by a Phillies fan? You guys are as close to soccer hooligans as baseball fans can come. Let’s just agree that none of us are even close to perfect.

And when I spoke of "real fans," I was not talking about those of the Red Sox. I was talking about baseball fans around the nation. A real fan loves the game and its history, not just the team they follow. If I sounded like too much of a homer before, let me put my own bias aside and note that everything I said of Fenway is also true of Wrigley Field. Wrigley will turn 100 in 2014, and it should host that year's All-Star-Game for all the same reasons that Fenway should host next year. Exceptions should be made to mark occasions like these.

Fenway and Wrigley are old and uncomfortable; I can’t refute that. But I think those stadiums have something special that makes them worth preserving and visiting. History and a sense of continuity are the key themes that make baseball great. It’s part of the game's romance. Everything will be compared to all that came before and all that will follow. I can’t make anyone else feel the buzz that I do in Fenway, but trust me, it is there.

I’ve never really seen baseball without interleague play and cable TV. Fans now can see any team anytime, so you’re right that the All-Star Game is no longer special. The last time it was, I was a zygote. But while the All-Star Game and baseball have lost a bit of their luster, I don't wish everything to revert to the past. Platform shoes and disco should stay dead, and I don’t want players to be owned by one team until they too die.

I just wish that players would occasionally choose to stay in the same place, not chase the highest paycheck. The heroes of the past had their flaws. Babe Ruth was a drunken womanizer, and he was the symbol of the game in a romantic era. But it would be nice for players today to stop getting DUIs and do a better job of embracing what could be heroic legacies. Maybe I’m expecting too much, but a girl can dream, right?

And while the Midsummer Classic will fill any park, no matter where it's held, it's hard to argue that games at Fenway or Wrigley won’t draw more viewers. The Red Sox and Cubs have large markets that are more likely to watch the game if it is in their home park. Add in people that would’ve watched anyway and anyone interested in the park's 100th anniversary, and you will probably find that the ratings are much higher than usual.

At the end of the day, should the All-Star Game just disappear? Maybe. I'd like to improve the event, but if it’s going to slide even further into insignificance, I would support dissolving it all together. It clearly doesn’t mean much anymore, and it takes up time in the middle of the season that could be reduced to a two-day break for all the players. And dropping it sure would make it easier to end the season sooner or fit in an additional playoff round, if there is to be one.

So, my good King, it seems we agree on on some issues and disagree on others. Maybe right now you don’t share my desire for more meaning and nobility in the game, but let’s see how you feel when Citizens Bank Park turns 100. Assuming, of course, that medical science continues advancing and the world doesn't come to a screeching halt.

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