Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Another Explanation All-Star Game's Irrelevance

On the heels of the advent of our unique signatures, we'll also introduce a new feature: the back and forth.

Interleague play might have killed the All-Star game, but it was already on its last breath after the ‘93 game at Camden Yards. That’s when, with the game in hand, Cito Gaston went to his own Duane Ward, instead of Baltimore’s own Mike Mussina, to pitch the almost perfunctory ninth inning.

The Baltimore fans booed throughout the ninth inning, the media brouhaha followed, and a precedent was set, that the stars be allowed to shine, that managers should not get in the way.

Each successive ASG came with the obligatory broadcasters’ late inning speculation about which one, or god-forbid two, players might not get on the field, Bob Costas bemoaning Ricky Bones’ exclusion on behalf of the Milwaukee fans, or perhaps Joe Buck wryly noting the Paul Byrd Omission.

The trend's natural evolution culminated in the tie of 2002. The managers were primarily concerned with getting everyone on the field, and neglected to consider the possibility of extra innings (Which is exactly the reason Gaston gave for saving Mussina back in ’93! ), let alone concern themselves with winning. But you can’t blame them, because precedent, and supposedly the fan’s preference demanded such an attitude.

I'm sure tonight they'll replay the iconic video of Pete Rose barreling over Ray Fosse, and the requisite commentary about "Fosse never being quite the same again" will follow, and the announcers will, even if only subtly, pine for the All Star Games of yore, when they meant something without the aid of a contrivance.

But they (and we) can’t have it both ways.

The devaluation of the ASG began long ago, when, combined with the 1 rep per roster rule, the league’s expansion began to turn the ASG into more of a spectacle than a competition. The extra (and often inferior) players were usually superfluous in a nine inning game. It was only a matter of time, that the fans’ attention turned to the surplus of benchwarmers.

Without knowing the entire context of the ’93 game, one might suspect that the Baltimoreans were right in their umbrage because perhaps one might assume that Mussina was the host city’s lone rep. In fact, Cal Ripken was in the starting lineup. But such consolation no longer mattered and the fans believed that the game was there primarily for their entertainment and only secondarily as a competition. And so booed their league and the winning team.

- Agent Easy

1 comment:

  1. The All-Star game stopped mattering when Gabe Summers retired.