Jan 31

Time To Evaluate All All-Star Games

Good morning. On this bright and sunny – but cold – Sunday morning. Plenty of snow despite the sun. On this last day of January, with the Super Bowl a week away, what better time to talk about the All-Star Games, in all sports?

With the NHL and NFL All-Star Games today it got me to thinking – as I usually do – about the nature of the All-Star Games. They have become obsolete with no compelling reason to watch any of them. All of the sports, with the exception of football, feature some kind of skills competition the day prior to the game.

The hockey skills are the most interesting, mostly because I don’t see that much hockey. The NBA’s three-point demonstration is far more challenging than the slam dunk competition. Jumping over a car or running the length of the court does nothing for me. The slam dunk show does symbolize what the sport has become, which is a “look at me,” exhibition.

The NBA game itself is a playground game of one-on-one duels broken up by an occasional demonstrations of trick passing, which is to remind us these exceptional athletes can pass when the mood strikes them. Of course, the NBA game wouldn’t be complete without some bitching and moaning from LeBron James, who despite the limited rosters complains because there aren’t three Cavaliers on the team. He especially notes the absence of Kyrie Irving, who had played in all but 18 games when the teams were announced.

Then again, this is James, who earlier this week boasted of his “high basketball IQ.” For somebody supposedly so smart, how come he can’t figure out such basic things as roster size, not to mention something so basic as to get along with his coach?

There is no designated skills competition in the NFL game, primarily because there isn’t a headhunting exhibition. The NFL game is the one that should first be abandoned. A player gets fined for skipping the NHL game even with a legitimate injury, which shows the importance the league places on the game. Conversely, seven New England Patriots will skip today’s game in a hissy fit for losing to Denver. Not a peep from the NFL office or the supposedly sophisticated Boston media which goes mostly spineless when it come to the Patriots.

This brings us to the baseball All-Star Game, whose highlight, unfortunately, is the Home Run Derby. Not only do some players bring a malaise to the game, but the idea of making an exhibition game determine something as important as home field advantage in the World Series is beyond stupid.

I hate to be someone who says, “the way things used to be,” but in this case that’s the way it is. From the stuffing of the ballot box (there’s some degree of checks and balances when they limit the voting to only 35 votes, but you can log on under a different screen name and vote again) to the Derby to the home field, the baseball game has lost its meaning.

And, that’s too bad because the All-Star games used to mean something. Part of the reason is the mystery of the other league is gone. Growing up in Cleveland, I rarely got to see the Dodgers or Giants. I used to drive to Cincinnati or Pittsburgh, or watch the Mets when my family visited New York. But, that curiosity is gone with the gimmick of interleague play and cable television. These days you can see all the San Diego Padres games you want, whether you live in Cleveland, Alaska or the Congo. The mystery is gone.

This year the Padres will host the game. Last year it was Cincinnati. Next year it will be the Marlins. That’s three National League parks in a row. The game is no longer rotated by leagues, but as a reward for building a new stadium. That’s why the Mets got their game, and Minnesota. Actually, it will be more accurate to say in most cases it is a reward for coaxing the taxpayers to pay for the new buildings (this was not the case with the Mets).

Yet, MLB, like the other sports, puts make-up on their games to hide the ugliness that their All-Star Games have become. But, as the saying does, “if you put lipstick on a pig it’s still a pig.”

But, if I want pig, I’ll eat BBQ ribs. There’s no need to watch any of the All-Star games because there’s nothing compelling about any of them. Too bad, because they used to have value and I used to love watching.

Spring training is 18 days away, so I thought I’d get a head start on my bitching and moaning.

Jul 10

Thought On All-Star Home Run Derby

Another year, another Home Run Derby. The only thing with edge last night was Kansas City booing Robinson Cano for bypassing the local hero. Of course, it didn’t have the from-the-heart venom of NBA fans booing the Miami Heat.

Initially, I watched the Derby with interest, if not fascination, the way I did the NBA slam dunk. But, there’s no real challenge if the pitch is lobbed over the play, so it became boring. Then, after the steroid issue, you knew what fueled all those upper deck shots.

So, I’m not a big fan of the Derby. I’d rather watch Criminal MInds reruns.

But, the paying public in the host city still loves it. I heard on talk radio yesterday saying how it Derby should be tweaked, ranging from celebrities (PLEASE, NO) to retired sluggers (not a bad idea).

I don’t care for the Derby because it is staged and not real competition – even though in a million swings I could never clear the wall – but as long as they are selling out the stadium, just leave it alone.

Jul 11

Today in Mets’ History: Seaver gets save in 1967 game.

Tom Seaver starred on this date in 1967 at the All-Star Game in Anaheim when All-Star Games actually meant something and were more than an encore for ESPN’s Home Run Derby.

SEAVER: Gets save in 67 game.


As a rookie, Seaver threw a hitless 15th inning to earn the save in the National League’s 2-1 victory. Seaver’s Hall of Fame career included 12 All-Star selections.

An oddity about this game was in that all the runs came on solo homers from third basemen: Philadelphia’s Richie Allen, Baltimore’s Brooks Robinson and Cincinnati’s Tony Perez.

This was a time when the starting pitchers worked at their three innings and there were pitchers available for extra innings. Unlike the disaster game in Milwaukee several years back when Commissioner Bud Selig called it a tie because the teams ran out of pitchers.

In this game, Seaver’s one inning was the shortest stint of the night as all the other pitchers worked at least two innings, with five pitching at least three innings, and Catfish Hunter throwing five as he took the loss. Don Drysdale was the winning pitcher.



UP NEXT: How spring training issues have been addressed in the first half.