Much of the All-Star game hype is silliness

The 2013 MLB All-Star Game will be played on July 16 at Citi Field in New York.

The 2013 MLB All-Star Game will be played on July 16 at Citi Field in New York.

The annual folly is upon us. The fans, players, and managers have completed their voting for the All-Star Game, with only the “final vote” online remaining to select another player to bring each squad to an unwieldy 34.

And then the charade will begin as star players discover sudden muscle pulls and minor maladies and opt out of the game in favor of replacements. Such malingering has always troubled me. It’s even more irritating now that there’s a ridiculous promotional device: the game is supposed to “mean something” by determining the home-field advantage in the World Series. Since the vast majority of the players in the All-Star game won’t even be in the fall classic, why should they care about that?

Of course, when Justin Verlander coughed up the World Series advantage for the Tigers last year, it did end up hurting his team, but that’s a rare exception.

The All-Star Game should be an honor and a privilege. In the old days, it was also the only chance to see the other league’s stars play.

Nowadays, with the leagues losing their separate identities to interleague play and players switching teams constantly due to free agency, that aspect of the midsummer classic is pure nostalgia. Still, I believe strongly that if a player that’s selected for the squad declares himself unfit to play in the All-Star Game, he should have to sit out five subsequent games. That should end the practice of clubs encouraging their stars to skip the midsummer classic.

After all, how can you treat the same game as meaningful and optional?

Just for fun, I picked my own All-Star squads a day before the official selections were announced. I did follow the rule that every team had to have a player on the squad, but I didn’t really find that to be difficult this year. Picking the Tigers players was somewhat challenging, however. Of course, Cabrera will start at third, and Scherzer should be the starting pitcher (13-0 has got to mean he’s the starter, and I don’t care if he’s not taking a normal rotation turn that day, he’s pitching only an inning or two at most anyway). I think Prince Fielder and Jhonny Peralta are pretty much shoo-in backups at their positions. But here’s where I part ways with the MLB selections. To me, Austin Jackson is more deserving than Torii Hunter. Their batting is very similar, but defensively I think Hunter has been something of a letdown at times and nowhere near the rising star Jackson is.

My selection process put Justin Verlander on the bubble and brought up another perennial All-Star Game debate: should the players having the best seasons get to go, or players having the best careers? I’ve always thought it should be the former. So, reluctantly, in the end, I left Verlander off my team, facing the fact that he hasn’t really been having an All-Star season this year.

I found most selections this year in the AL pretty easy. My starting AL lineup is exactly the same except I’d give Nelson Cruz the nod over Bautista. The pitching staff is the same except for my omission of JV and Justin Masterson. Jason Kipnis can easily represent the Indians. I included him plus Jackson, Ellsbury, Beltre, Longoria, and Jose Altuve (a much better pick for the Astros than Jason Castro) and also omitted Zobrist, Gordon, and Encarnacion (though all are deserving, just not as much so).

I think generally the MLB selections in the AL are fine, but really, Joaquin Benoit is an All-Star candidate? I hope the voters pick Koji Uehara from their uninspired choice of five relief pitchers.

I differ more with the NL picks. Going on the basis of this current year’s performance, I put Segura and Puig in the starting lineup (they are the two more exciting new stars on the scene), Carpenter at second, and Cuddyer in the outfield, keeping Tulowitski, Beltran, and Phillips as reserves. I don’t Bryce Harper deserves to be on the squad at all, much less in the staring lineup (I predict his career will flame out early despite all the hype because he is, well, an idiot).

I agree almost entirely on the pitching here too, though I’d have Melancon and Brothers instead of Kimbrel and Baumgarner.
On the NL bench, I prefer Marte, Choo, and even Justin Upton to Scutaro.

I’ll watch the game, but I enjoy the pre-game introductions more than anything, especially since there’ll be so many first-time selections. The game itself no longer holds much interest because of the mixing of the leagues all season, and the hyping of “this time it counts” actually makes me care less who wins, though I guess if you’re a Tiger fan you should be rooting for the AL. It’s one of Bud Selig’s stupidest ideas. If you want to improve on the old alternating years rule, which was lame, then the home team advantage should go to the team in the World Series with the best regular season record, period.

3 replies on “Much of the All-Star game hype is silliness

  • Bob Brontosaurus

    I’d rather watch a bird sitting on a fence than an All-Star game in any sport. Same level of excitement.

  • Rick

    Hey Mike, I like your idea of home field going to the team with the best record. However, the problem with that is, with Jim Genius running the show the Tiger’s will NEVER even be in contention for home field not that it would matter. He would just get out managed anyway. As for the All-star game I agree it is just a made for TV event now. Being around and watching all-star games since the late 60’s I can say the games from that era had a lot more intensity and drama. And were wayyyy more entertaining.

  • Gary Steinke

    The MLB All-Star game is a joke and has been every since the fans started voting for the starters.

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