There’s only one thing wrong with the all-star festivities.
Major League Baseball has its all-star game and surrounding activities just about right. Finally, the dumb rule that the winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series is gone. Good riddance. Can you imagine something that important being at stake to boost attendance in what is obviously a fun game for the players?
They have turned the Monday night Home Run Derby into a spectacle of strength, which the fans love, no matter who is doing the whamming. Most of the big stars who have been in the derby before bow out, while the younger sluggers go for a million dollars in the nationally televised batting-cage contest. But it works.
Did we ever think we’d see anyone match local kid Josh Hamilton’s 28 homers in one round like he did at Yankee Stadium in 2008? Well, two guys did it this year, one a rookie with the massive upper-cut swing, Vlad Guerrero Jr. He ultimately lost to the New York Mets Pete Alonso in the finals of the three-hour event that packed the ball park in Cleveland. Any part of baseball that pays honor to Babe Ruth is good for the game.
One thing that fits worse than the Bambino into his old Yankees uniform is the celebrity all-star softball game. Why is there a SOFTball game played mostly by non-BASEball players anyway? Plus, kids and women? It may sell a few more tickets in the afternoon, but it makes little sense. The Futures Game between the young stars of tomorrow celebrates baseball. A silly softball game does not.
Since the All-Star Game is merely an exhibition between players who have earned spots on both teams, it is now very hard to screw up, and the result is generally a well-played, close contest that looks like a blast to be in for a few innings. Sure, mic the players in the field and have the announcers talk to them while play is going on.
You can hear position players calling each off for fly balls and pops ups and teasing each other. They even now have a rule that one sub who has already left the game can come back if needed to avoid running out of players in the late in the game. Terrific stuff, all, except for the asinine celebrity softball.
It’s a great way to bridge a long season before play resumes Friday with five tight Division, and two Wildcard, races. By the way, the American League won for a 7th straight year. But who’s counting?