I’m not a huge All-Star game fan. I appreciate what the contest used to be back when Hall of Famers played half or more of the game and they went all out in an effort to win for their league.
I’m less a fan these days when the bigger emphasis is on glitz and making sure almost everyone has an opportunity to play. There’s even been talk from Adam Wainwright that he grooved the first inning pitch that Derek Jeter lined for a double – much like the talk that the pitch Cal Ripken hit out of the yard against Chan Ho Park in the 2001 game was soft-tossed.
That wouldn’t have happened in the old days.
That said, it was hosted in my hometown, so I followed the first couple innings via Twitter before setting about doing other things. It sounds like Minnesota represented well as hosts of the spectacle. The National Anthem and Air Force Thunderbirds fly over were fantastic. The lead-up got good play. But as fantastic as the pomp-and-circumstance were and as competitive as it sounds like the game was, my biggest issue with the All—Star game once again reared its ugly head in the end.
That’s when Glen Perkins of the Minnesota Twins (44-50) got Miguel Montero of the Arizona Diamondbacks (40-56) to fly out, struck out Josh Harrison of the Pittsburgh Pirates (49-46) and ended the game with a groundout by Colorado Rockies (40-55) outfielder Charlie Blackmon.
And with that, the American League earned home field advantage in the World Series.
I have no problem with any of the four being in the game – they’ve all put up All-Star worthy performances. But the combined record of the four teams whose players made up the final inning of action was 173-207. The likelihood is that only one of those four teams will be on even the fringe of the playoff race and there’s at least something of a chance that one or more of those participants is traded before the July 31 deadline.
Yet there they were in the ninth inning of a tightly contested All-Star game determining who has home field in the Series.
So – let’s say Marshall’s Dodgers go on a second-half tear and end up buying, err, winning 100 games. And then let’s say his Athletics cool a bit, dropping to 87 or 88 victories. They end up sneaking into the playoffs when the Mariners and Angels also fade. Then they heat up again in the postseason. If these two meet in the World Series, Oakland gets the deciding game seven … because Glen Perkins got Charlie Blackmon to hit a ground ball.
The most random of circumstances in an exhibition game should not be determining anything important about the most important game of any season – most especially where it is played.
There are those who argue Bud Selig has done a great job as commissioner of Major League Baseball. I think many of the successes he allegedly has had have been in response to his own biggest shortcomings and I can’t wait until he is gone.
Ironically, despite the criticism he took, ending the 2002 All-Star Game in a tie when both teams were running out of players was a move I agree with. Attempting to give the game relevance by allowing it to determine home field in the World Series was, among many decisions I haven’t liked, the one I disagree with the most.