Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why the MLB All Star Game Has Become Unwatchable

The MLB All Star game came and went on Tuesday and no one seemed to care. According to ESPN, the game earned its lowest rating ever.

Why doesn't anyone want to watch it anymore? Why is it being pushed aside?

"THIS TIME IT COUNTS": I hate this. I loathe it. An exhibition game should not determine who gets home field advantage in the World Series (the league with more interleague wins should get the nod). It's a bad idea ... even to those who think it's a good one.

By the way, since the fact that home field advantage was on the line and no one still watched (which was the entire reason for pinning that prize to the game), can we just stop it? It doesn't work so let's scrap that.

While that prize puts a little more emotion and drama to the game, it doesn't make it better. One of the most memorable All Star moments in my adult life was the battle between Randy Johnson and John Kruk. Or remember Cal Ripken Jr's final All Star apperance and A-Rod game him his customary shortstop position when they trotted out on the field? Those kinds of things can't happen anymore. They cannot fart around, have fun and do things out of the ordinary.

And then the game gets weird. The managers are trying to find the line between getting everyone in there to play and actually winning the game. It's like Little League.

TOO MANY PLAYERS: Sorry, but there are just too many players on the All Star team. It reminds me of the proposed 96-team NCAA Tournament -- they hate leaving a couple teams out that they are willing to invite unworthy teams in. Same thing here. There are tons of guys having All Star worthy seasons but they can't all get on this team.

Of the 70 or so All Stars ... there were about 20 of them that I hadn't heard of until Tuesday night. And I've probably forgotten them already. To fit them all in, a manager has to use one to pinch hit, one to pinch run and one to be the defensive replacement the next inning. It's just stupid.

PITCHING IS TOO GOOD: We are just coming down from the steroid era where offensive numbers were staggering. After everyone got de-juiced, pitching has started to dominate. In an All Star game, a manager can run out about 4 or 5 aces ... then bring in dominant closers to get the game home.

Good pitching beats good hitting. So rotating great pitchers to the mound will keep the game low scoring and not as fun to watch.

People watch the NBA All Star game for the high offensive theatrics. The NHL and NFL All Star/Pro games are usually higher scoring than an average game. The great pitching makes the MLB All Star game lower scoring than an average game. We don't get to see those great hitters doing anything.

HOME RUN DERBY: I'm not a fan of this event, but I know people who love it. It's gotten so big that it ... at times ... trumps the game itself. Sort of like how the Slam Dunk Contest used to be in the NBA.

I just told you that pitching rules during the game, so the majestic offense fireworks are invited the night before it.

NOVELTY IS GONE: With free agent movement and salary dump trades all the rage in baseball ... not to mention interleague play ... the novelty of the game has worn off. It used to be that you could only see Roger Clemens pitching to Barry Bonds in an All Star Game. Now a David Price-Albert Pujols battle can easily have been seen before.