THE MLB ALL STAR GAME
It has now turned into the All Star Break. Great. But, for baseball fans...it isn't a break. We will be force-fed the Home Run Derby on Monday and then see the glitzy game on Tuesday. On Thursday, we resume our regularly scheduled program.
I just don't care anymore. It's not that I hate the game or the idea of the game. I used to love it. But it's turned into something that just doesn't sit right with me anymore. The magical game that lined up the best players in the game has turned into this inconveinent mess that sits like an albatross in the middle of the season. The "game" itself has less meaning than the "break". Everyone loves to punch out the before/after the All Star break numbers...and that is fine. And I am not for getting rid of the actual game. I just don't really like it that much anymore.
FAN VOTING: For the first 30 years of my life...I would have defended the fans voting for the All Star starters until I was blue in the face. Now...well, I'm not so sure. In the computer age...any idiot can just keep voting for his favorite players [I know, they have a limit...but it isn't hard to get past that limit to keep on voting]. When New York teams have a 10 million fan base...well, they'll push in a few more people than Minnesota, Cincinnati or even Detroit.
It isn't like it even matters anymore. The guys you vote probably don't want to play anyways. I mean, they'll say it is an honor and collect their All Star bonus that was written into their contracts. Then they will pass on the actual game and chill out somewhere.
THAT STUPID "IT NOW COUNTS" CRAP: Where baseball messed up was by determining the outcome of the most important game of the year [Game 7 of the World Series] by using the winner of the least important game [an exhibition like this All Star game]. It is dumb. I mean, can you blame Ozzie Guillen for picking all his guys to fill out his American League roster?? Dude might be in the World Series and would love to have that home field advantage. Why trust someone else's guys when you can bring the ones you know?? Why have guys from the Pirates and Royals determine what stadium gets to host Game 1 of the World Series??
It was fine as just a game. I mean, there is no proof that the All Star game is more popular now that "it means something".
I have an idea. Why not just determine which league gets home field advantage in the World Series by which league did better in interleague play??? Makes sense, huh? the AL has dominated the NL in interleague play this year....so they should win the home field for the World Series. There. Cleaned that up.
SPEAKING OF INTERLEAGUE PLAY....: I'm not bashing interleague play at all. But those great matchups you used to crave in the All Star game you get to see now during the season. I mean, you wanted to see a guy like Barry Bonds hit in Fenway Park. Where else but an All Star game could that happen?? Well, with interleague play, we get to see that every few years. How would those NL managers adjust to the DH??? How would those AL managers adjust to having their pitchers hit?? Again, we see that in interleague play. The biggest novelty for the MLB All Star game was the two leagues having to share the field together. Now, it happens in two big chunks during the regular season. No big deal anymore.
THE ROSTER CALL: I know people hate the fact that every team gets a rep...but I love it. It makes baseball unique. The best part of the All Star game has always been the player introductions. Seeing those players and coaches standing on the 1st or 3rd base line tipping their caps is great. Seeing those nice clean uniforms in the bright lights is awesome. There, you can see superstars lining up next to guys having their breakout season.
I AM AN NBA ALL STAR MAN NOW: Baseball's All Star game does have the most.....magic. But I like the NBA All Star Game a bit better. In the NBA, the All Star game feels like a great pickup game where the best players show off their talents. Not so in baseball. There isn't much freelancing out there....aside from when A-Rod made Cal Ripken take his shortstop spot a few years ago in the ASG or when John Kruk played chicken with Randy Johnson about a decade ago. Guys in the NBA are willing to try something fun and exciting. I mean, what if Albert Pujols gets up and....lays down a bunt just to be silly. Or, say, Manny Ramirez tries to play first base for an inning. Or, say, Derek Jeter tries to pitch. Yeah, that's all rather quirky and such....but there is no fun in the game. None. Sure, you can be serious about it....the NBA guys do too. After they do all their alley-oops, dunks and behind the back passes early in the game....they really get down and gritty over the last quarter and a half. That's why I love that game. It really shows me the best of the NBA. Baseball doesn't really do that.
The ESPYs take place next Sunday night...and, well, I won't be watching. The ESPYs are to real sports awards what the MTV Movie Awards are to the Oscars. A sideshow. They do have some very good categories in there...and they should stick with them. The don't need to have an NFL Player of the Year category. More times than not, the ESPY winner will be the same as the league winner. But there are categories I do like...and that I'm going to put my two cents on:
BEST MALE ATHLETE: A good category. I'm not picking Albert Pujols or LeBron James because, well, while they did have great seasons....they really weren't that great. Footballers Vince Young and Shawn Alexander deserve close inspection for the award. They are worthy candidates...but no. My vote will have to go to Lance Armstrong again. Sorry, but winning the Tour de France for a 7th straight time is amazing. Of the other nominees in this category, only Young won a championship this year. Armstrong has defended his title for the 7th time in one of sports' most grueling events.
BEST FEMALE ATHLETE: There isthe hippie snowboarder Hannah Teter. There is the hoops icon Sheryl Swoopes. But it is just a two woman race. Normally, I'd bet on Melanie Troxel to win any race. She's the NHRA drag racer who's dominating her circuit. But it is Annika Sorenstam. I mean, she won 10 of the 20 events she entered last year.
BEST TEAM: Sorry, it won't be the Steelers. That team didn't win their division and was the final team in the playoffs [that doesn't diminish their Super Bowl, however]. I don't like to pick the Heat since they had two teams die on them in the ECF [Pistons] and NBA Finals [Mavs]. The Texas Longhorns fall just a bit short. I have to take the Chicago White Sox. It is actually rare to see MLB's best regular season team take the World Series title...but the ChiSox did it. And they did it with domination. The swept the defending champion Red Sox in the divisional round. They then went on to beat the Angels in five games in the ALCS....in which the last four games were complete game wins for the Pale Hose. Then, in the World Series, they swept the Astros. An 11-1 postseason record. Domination.
GAME OF THE YEAR: There were some good ones. The Astros-Braves NLDS game that went to 18 innings was a classic. So was the Andre Agassi-James Blake US Open match. But neither holds a candle to the Texas-USC Rose Bowl game for the National Championship.
MOMENT OF THE YEAR: This category is stacked. Any one of these moments could win in any other year. How about 13-yr old Dakoda Dowd who competed in the LPGA's Ginn Open?? Or that great George Mason upset of UConn to put them in the Final Four?? Or Kobe Bryant dumping in 81 points on the Toronto Raptors?? That doesn't even win for me. The winner is autistic hoops player Jason McElwain pouring in 20 points in four minutes of action for Greece Athena HS.
GREATEST PLAY: Some interesting ones. There was Antwaan Randle El's TD pass in the Super Bowl...the first receiver to toss a TD pass in the big game. There is also Aaron Rowland cracking up hisface on a diving catch in the outfield. There also is Candace Parker's two dunks in an NCAA tournament game. But I will go with the Doug Flutie drop-kick. That hadn't been done since WWII and was just so wild and out of the blue.
UNBELIEVABLE PERFORMANCE: It ain't AJ Hawk in the Fiesta Bowl or Matt Leinart against Notre Dame. It isn't Ryan Howard and his 22 HR mark. Nope, it is Kobe Bryant dumping 81 on the Raptors. That was a guard pouring in the 2nd most points in NBA history.