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From MJR at Yankeeist:
And that’s the major problem with All Star games. No one cares. The fans don’t care. I consider myself to be as big a sports fan as you’ll find anywhere. I care so little about these exhibitions that I would rather they not be played. I’ll wager that most serious sports fans are at best indifferent to All Star games and at worst willing to join me in circulating a petition to end them. The owners probably don’t care, and certainly don’t want their investments getting hurt. That leaves the players, and they positively do not care because, and I’ll go out on a limb here, Deron Williams has never forgotten the score in the last thirty seconds of a tie game that counted in the standings……
If the leagues want to give their players some time off in the middle of their seasons then they should do that. If they also want to recognize the players who are having the best seasons at the halfway point, then do that too. But, for the love of god, stop subjecting sports fans to half-hearted exhibition games that feature NO DEFENSE AT ALL and a bunch of hung-over multi-millionaires. If they must be played then give all the All Stars on the winning team a million dollars each. Deron Williams would know the score then.
All-Star games are going nowhere, simply because they tend to make money for the hosting city and give the league some publicity. However, even if MLB was willing to scrap the games, I would be against that move. It is true that many fans do not care about the outcome of the game, which tends to take a lot of the life out of the exhibition. Despite that, the last few MLB All-Star games have been close and, at least in my estimation, fairly entertaining. The one on one nature of baseball lends itself well to making for interesting matchups in these games, as you get to see great pitchers face off directly against top hitters for much of the game. Each individual player cares about his at-bat and his pitching, such that you avoid the “no defense” problem that you get in the other contests.
Furthermore, debating the All-Star selections is one of the great traditions for baseball fans to indulge in during the season. Being that baseball is truly a game of numbers, the All-Star balloting gives us an opportunity to truly evaluate the season up to that point, and try and determine who the best players have been. While you could scrap the game and simply create an “All-Pro” team, I think this would remove a lot of the luster from the discussion. Very few people sit around and debate SIlver Slugger awards and All-NBA teams. The fact that the chosen players will compete in a game to showcase their skills seems to make the debate all the more heated and fascinating.
FInally, while the exhibition may not make for riveting television, the All-Star experience is great for the local fans. The FanFests and other related events are a great way to celebrate the sport, as many of us were able to notice when the ASG came to New York in 2008. Both kids and adults alike have the chance to learn about the history of the game, meet some of the players, and generally immerse themselves in the sport. This is good both for the city and for the sport.
Is the All-Star Game perfect? Certainly not, and there are a number of elements that could be altered to improve the experience. But I would stop short of eliminating the event entirely. How about you?
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