One day soon, the MLB All-Star Game will be led out behind some barn and shot dead. Holding the smoking pistol will be MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig. It is Selig who has diminished the significance of the MLB All-Star game over the years to this point where it now needs to be put down to its eternal resting place
How did something so wonderful and fresh born in the lush summer month of July, in a year when baseball was still peaking as America’s Pastime, come to fall so hard upon its face? How does a single straw break a camel’s back? The MLB All-Star game is about to discover the answers.
Before Boredom and Decay, There Was Only Greatness
The first All-Star game was held in 1933. Until then, the only time the public had a chance to watch the greats from both leagues compete against each other was during the World Series. The All-Star game served to whet the appetite of the American public for the pennant races in September that would lead to the Fall Classic in October.
Babe Ruth hits first All-Star game home run.
Carl Hubbel fans five in a row. Five future Hall Of Fame players: Babe Ruth; Lou Gehrig; Jimmie Fox; Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin.
Rip Sewell with his slow lob pitch, fools Ted Williams once, but not the second time.
Pete Rose ends both the game and catcher Ray Fosse’s career with a head-butt to the chest at home plate.
Bo Jackson ends the speculation of whether or not he is a legitimate two-sport star by both rocketing a moon-shot home run and launching cannon shots to home plate with his arm.
Larry Walker spoke all week leading up to the All-Star game, saying that he might not play because he didn’t want to face fire balling Randy Johnson and mess up his swing. Walker played, and his first at-bat against Johnson, Randy fired the ball over his head and against the backstop. Walker, laughing, responded by turning his helmet around and facing Johnson from the other side of the plate; and drawing a walk.
Cal Ripkin caps his amazing career with the perfect metaphor in his final at-bat in an All-Star Game by hitting a home run.
In recent years, baseball has instituted changes destined to finish off the MLB All-Star Game faster than you can say, “Ol’ Yeller.” The All-Star Game was the perfect complement to the World Series as far as fans getting to peak behind the curtain of mystique separating the two major leagues. By adding inter-league play, Selig has killed off the interest fans may have had in dream all-star match ups. Baseball went on to add a rule stating that every team must be represented in the All-Star Game. This meant that mediocre players on horrible teams became All-Stars by process of elimination. Thus you will see all teams represented by their fitted hats during the game.
In the future, what may be looked upon as the tipping point in the death of this once stellar attraction was the 7-7 tie in 2002. In the age of extreme specialists, many pitchers feared pitching more than an inning would affect them adversely when the season restarted. The cost of this prima-donna attitude was paid in 2002. In what had been a thrilling game, many pitchers had been brought in to face only one batter before being allowed to go and shower. Before the end, all the pitchers had already been used.
The enduring image of a feckless Bud Selig throwing his hands in the air, shrugging, and agreeing to call the contest a tie game will live long after the All-Star Game has died. Then Selig, like a chef trying to fix burnt pastry by pouring powdered sugar on it, decided that from that day on, the winning team in the All-Star Game would get home-field advantage in the World Series. However, the game had already become a joke. Time is ticking before the significance of the All-Star Game will only be found amid yellow and aged scorecards, lovingly filled out in a number 2 pencil, from a time when both the All-Star Game, and keeping score, mattered.