When it comes to All-Star Games, Major League Baseball kicks football’s, basketball’s and hockey’s asses. No question.
And football? Pffft. The Pro Bowl ain’t even played until the season’s over; we’ve slept through a playoff system that includes, like, every stinkin’ team in the league; and nasty Miss Jackson’s boobs have already exploded from her Super Bowl outfit. I mean, after that, who the hell gives a crap about football?
That said, MLB’s All-Star Game ain’t exactly a chew-on-your-fingernails, glued-to-the-chair, don’t-miss-a-pitch event. It’s a vehicle for sellin’ beer and cars and Viagra (Oh … and just for the record, there have been 6 phone calls from the Schlombowski household seeking immediate medical attention, but each has been 100% attributed to the God-given charms of Mrs Schlombowski.) to the average couch potato like me, sittin’ at home takin’ in the spectacle or pageantry or whatever the hell Joe Buck will undoubtedly call it. Point is, the All-Star Game may not be as riveting as the missus, but I haven’t missed one since I was old enough to pee. I have no idea why … I mean, why give a crapola about one game that doesn’t really count and is wedged into the middle of 162 that do?
So let’s put things on the Schlombowski Scale and see where the pros and cons net out.
THAT’S PRETTY COOL: In 1939, the American League All-Star team featured 10 guys … 10 friggin’ guys! … from one team; the Yankees. Only 6 of ’em played, but still, that gives you an idea of exactly how good the Yanks were in ’39. This year the Cubs have 7: Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Dexter Fowler, Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. And except for Lester and Chicago’s very own nudie pitcher, they’re all startin’. Think about that for a minute. The Chicago Cubs have gone from being a team with a token guy on the All-Star roster (cuz you gotta have at least one player from every team — smells like Bud Selig to me) to havin’ 5 starting position players. I’d say that’s pretty damn good. In fact it’s just shy of 1939 Yankees good. Maybe better, cuz the Yanks were already a dynasty in ’39, whereas the only thing the Cubs have ruled over is the National League door mat.
YOU GOTTA BE JOKIN’: The Mid-Season Classic is an exhibition. It doesn’t count. But thanks to one of Bud Selig’s aggravated brain farts (and he had more than one related to the All-Star Game) the game’s outcome decides who has home field advantage in the World Series. If you took all the moronic baseball ideas and stacked ’em in ascending order of stupidity, that one would hold the cherry position, my friend. Yes, it even beats out the White Sox short pants fashion “don’t” from 1976.
Bob Ryan, when he was with The Boston Globe, put it like this:
“So now we have a game that’s not real baseball determining which league hosts Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 in the World Series. It’s not a game if pitchers throw one inning. It’s not a game if managers try to get everyone on a bloated roster into the game. It’s not a game if every franchise, no matter how wretched, has to put a player on the team … If the game is going to count, tell the managers to channel their inner Connie Mack and go for it.”
Look, wing nuts, home-field advantage in the World Series oughta be based on regular season records, not on a friggin’ exhibition game filled with enough “fan experience” bullshit to overload the senses of a Fuller Park police dispatcher. You got the best record, you should have the advantage. Period.
What Selig did in 2003 has impacted the World Series in a ginormous way: the league that won the All-Star Game has won ten of the last 13 October Classics. That’s Perry Mason-like evidence that home field advantage is significant. So why is it decided by something as random as the final score of the All-Star Game? You might just as well just flip a coin cuz they’re both equally arbitrary. How ’bout lettin’ the winner of the Home Run Derby decide who gets home field advantage? Or maybe the 10,000th fan to enter the park? Better yet; a rochambeau between the bat boys.
Plus — and this really winds my weed whacker — when you’ve got Adam Wainwright suggesting that he purposely … PURPOSELY … floated some meatballs to Derek Jeter in his last appearance in the Mid-Season Classic, you gotta question the integrity of usin’ the All-Star Game to decide anything. Except maybe who gets the Douche Bag Award — in this case, Adam Wainwright (a Cardinal, of course).
THANKS, I NEEDED THAT: 162 games is a long season, my friend. Hockey and basketball are long, too, but baseball is ultra-extra long. Biblically long. Football? A whopping 16 games. Doesn’t even deserve a coffee break, pal. A baseball season, on the other hand, is like all 1,037 pages of Gone With the Wind that Mrs Bednarski tried to get me to read in the ninth grade: great, maybe, but too damn long to sit through without an intermission.
So, the break is good. It’s a way of standin’ back and evaluating where you are; lookin’ at what you’re doing right (Cubs: damn near everything on the field) and what you’re doin’ wrong (Cubs: the bullpen, and playin’ dress up on road trips). The All-Star Game gives the whole organization a chance to catch its breath. Or, if you’re the Twins or the Braves, set your tee times for the day after the regular season ends.
By the way, Mrs Bednarski was pissed at me for not finishing Gone With the Wind. Hell, I barely got passed the title cuz it pretty much summed up the Cubs’ post-season chances for all of my first 14 years on the planet. There have been a few hopeful moments since, but I’m not crackin’ that book again until the Cubs are sportin’ rings.
YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS: In 2002, that colossal bobble-head, Bud Selig, decided to call the All-Star Game a tie. I still can’t believe it. You got a collection of some of the best players in baseball playin’ against each other, broadcast around the world, and you decide to have it end in a tie?!! That’s like kissin’ your sister. (Uh … that’s a bad thing, White Sox fans.)
The game had gone into extra innings, so in the middle of the 11th both managers met with the Commish, explaining that they were out of pitching. Instead of doin’ what they’d have to do if they were playin’ A REAL FRIGGIN’ GAME, Selig decided that if the National League didn’t score in the bottom of the inning, the game would be ruled a tie. Are you friggin’ kidding me?! This was the big cheese of baseball layin’ down his Milwaukee bowling league rules on the Mid-Season Classic. Lemme tell you, lugnuts, the fans in Milwaukee were none too pleased. No real baseball fan was happy with that. Yours truly did his best John McEnroe imitation when it happened and spilled an Old Style all over the sofa. Had to get rid of it cuz we couldn’t get the smell out. It was like havin’ Bud Selig in the room. Anyway, that’s gotta be the worst thing that’s ever happened in, at or to an All-Star Game.
WISH I’D BEEN THERE: By contrast, I think maybe the best moment in All-Star game history was in 1941. With the American League trailing by 2 with 2 outs in the 9th, Ted Williams steps up to the plate and swats a 3-run homer to beat the National League 5-4. Of course, he hit it off the Cubs’ Claude Passeau, but, hey … I wasn’t even an itch in my daddy’s pants yet, so it’s not so hard to take that one. Anyway, Williams’ blast was the first of the walk-off kind in All-Star Game history.
But beyond that little factoid, think about the chances of the American League winnin’ that game. Zippo. Well, actually about 20% … but basically that’s zippo. That was an unbelievable shot when the chips were down by arguably the greatest hitter who ever lived. (BA of .406 that year.) If there was ever a meaningful moment in a game that’s 100% meaningless, that was it. Killer.
BAN THAT GUY: In 197o, long before we ever knew what a jaggoff he really was, Pete Rose demonstrated a bit of his assholian inner self when he barreled into Ray Fosse at home, essentially ending the All-Star backstop’s career. Mind you, this was pre-Bud, when the game had no significance whatsoever. It didn’t count, it didn’t matter, the Series home field advantage wasn’t ridin’ on it. It was just a pick-up game filled with ringers. Rose mowin’ Fosse down like an 18 wheeler was the most unsportsmanlike, jackassian display of testosterone I’ve ever seen, but par for the course for Rose. And hey, I totally give that move to him in the regular season and the playoffs. But the All-Star Game? Let’s just say, a Rose by any other name would still stink.
In a “what goes around comes around” sorta way, karma has done it’s a little Riverdance on Rose’s big fat head; the result of his bettin’ on baseball, a strict no-no. So while I was thinkin’ he oughta be banned from the game in 1970 for bein’ a total All-Star douche bag, little did I know that it would actually happen. For me, it was the ugliest moment in All-Star history, cuz a guy’s career was taken from him.
On balance I’d say I’m an All-Star Game fan. Besides, what’s better than another baseball game to break up the baseball season? Nothin’. Especially this year with 25% of the roster made up of Cubbies. Hopefully Rob Womanfred won’t rear his ugly bonehead and decide that we’re over-represented.