It's that time of the year again, when baseball stops to take a breather, and the All-Stars gather, this year in San Francisco. Just some passing thoughts about it as the break begins.
I don't give a damn about The Home Run Derby. It's artificial, and made to pump up the actual game to be played the next day. I only care about the actual game, and I don't care at all about the extraneous stuff, like the celebrity game as well. The Home Run Derby is just another excuse for ESPN to shove Chris Berman down our throats, and for that clod to yell, "Back, back, back..." 10,000 times (which he stole from the legendary Red Barber), and roll out his useless list of insipid nicknames that no one gives a crap about. I'll be missing it tonight, as I'll be doing Trivia Night at Professor Thom's. My heart is broken.
I would rather have seen David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez pass on the game this year, as the rest during the break might benefit both players. But Papi explained that since he was elected by the fans, he feels an obligation to be there. I certainly respect his feelings. And I'm glad that Kevin Youkilis was NOT picked, even though he merited inclusion this year. Youk's nursing a quad strain, and the days off should help him.
There was some hubbub over the rumor that the Giant fans rigged the election of Barry Bonds as an outfielder on this year's team. The fact is that Bonds actually merited inclusion this year, either by fan election or being selected as a reserve. However you feel about him, I really didn't see any way he wasn't going, and especially since the game is in San Francisco this year.
Interleague baseball has taken away some of the luster off this game. I remember as a kid the All-Star Game being a really big deal, seeing the stars of each league going up against each other to see which league was best. Back in the old days (the 1970s to be exact), I remember people saying how much the AL didn't seem to care about it, as the NL dominated it so much. These days I don't hear anybody saying the NL doesn't care since they haven't won it since 1996. MLB has done much to blur the lines between the two leagues, and some of it not for the better.
I am an advocate of making the DH a permanent part of the All-Star Game. Pitchers almost never hit, and let's face it, NO ONE wants to see them hit either. Putting it in for good (it only happens when the game is in AL parks) makes sense all around.
I hope the managers of the team don't do what Joe Torre and Bob Brenly did in 2002 to ruin the All-Star Game that year: get EVERY pitcher in the game. They are directly to blame for the travesty that resulted in a 7-7 tie, and the game that year had to be stopped after 11 innings as both teams used all their pitchers (Bud Selig got the heat that year but the managers were to blame). Stop this fetish of trying to get everyone into the game. For position players it's fine, as most players who are in the game by the ninth inning have been in the game just a short time and can keep on playing should extra innings be needed. But you have to keep at least 4 or 5 pitchers around should the game go into OT. Some pitchers won't get into the game, and that's fine (and I'm sure their managers won't mind). Most have already gotten money just for making the team through incentive clauses in their contracts, so it's not a waste not playing. Besides, they are major leaguers, not little leaguers. Do you think they're going to go home and cry to their mommies that they didn't play? So stop using a pitcher an inning and let a few go two innings to avoid the 2002 mess.
Enjoy the break, everyone.