The 2014 all-star game went on without a hitch on Tuesday night from Minnesota’s Target Field. Inclement weather may have delayed the home run derby, but didn’t seem to interrupt the actual All-Star Game. Which was great for the Fox network executives. The all-star game is beginning to resemble more of an awards show than a Baseball game.
This year’s all-star game saw the American League beat the National league by a score of 5-3. The Dodgers had four players in the all-star game this year (Kershaw, Greinke, Gordon, and Puig) The Dodgers saw all four of their all-stars get playing time. The National League rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the score, to ultimately lose by allowing a couple of runs in the middle frames.
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Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke both pitched scoreless innings for the National League. Greinke recorded two whiffs, and Kershaw one. Dee Gordon came into the game as a pinch-runner in the top of the fourth. Apparently Gordon became just the third Dodger ever (Gil Hodges 49, Maury Wills, 62) to pinch-run in an all-star game. Gordon scored a run, and Yasiel Puig whiffed in all three of his at-bats.
Miguel Cabrera hit a monster two-run home run off of starter Adam Wainwright in the bottom of the first, and MVP Mike Trout doubled, tripled and drove in two runs. But of course all of that was like a secondary headline behind the major storyline of the 2014 All-star game. Derek Jeter. Not sure if you’ve head but Jeter is retiring at the end of this season don’t you know. I jest, but seriously, it was like a Jeter fest in Minneapolis Tuesday evening.
Not that the classy Yankee Icon doesn’t deserve it, but maybe it was a bit much. So as the Dodgers rest and recharge during the break, let me hit you with a few of my notes and tidbits from the 2014 all-star break.
- Fans deserve the right to choose
Every year the argument of who should and shouldn’t be an all-star only gets louder and more annoying. Writers and bloggers complain about the process every year. They claim the process is flawed, and their biggest complaint seems to be about the fans choosing the all-star starters.
The beginning of the fans voting for the all-star starters began in 1947, and continued through 1957. Until during the 1957 season the Cincinnati Reds fans stuffed the ballot box by voting for a Red at every position. Then commissioner Fred Frick thought it was unfair and discontinued fan voting. From 1958 up until 1970 coaches, and managers selected the entire all-star rosters.
But fan interest seemed to be declining. So in 1970, the MLB promotions team decided to restore the fans right to choose. I am pro-choice all the way.
Here’s the thing. The fans don’t have much these days. With the rising ticket prices, traffic, exorbitant concession and parking costs, the fans should get something. I remember back in the day before the internet, the voting was on paper. All-star pamphlets were handed out to the fans with punch-outs for your favorite player. Needless to say there were a lot of hanging chads. Nowadays all the voting is done online, including the final vote. The final vote is the vote for the final roster spot for each league. The fans choose the eight starting players and the final vote player from each league. There is always great debate about who deserves to be an all-star and who doesn’t. Many believe there are “snubs” good players who deserved to be an all-star but were left off the roster because of a flawed system, or they were just plain overlooked. Then there are other players voted to the all-star team that some believe don’t truly deserve to be there.
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It’s important to remember that the process is flawed, but that’s not important. The process will always be flawed in some way. There are 34 players on each roster, there are bound to be a few players that probably shouldn’t be there. It’s going to happen. Healthy debates are always good for the game. But the fans deserve the right to choose the starters. You can let the players, coaches, and managers choose the rest of the roster, but don’t take away the fan’s right to choose.
Choosing the players based on advanced stats would make the process boring. Sure sometimes the fans get it wrong, but most of the time they do a good job. The game doesn’t belong to the players, or coaches, or managers. It belongs to the fans, and they’ve earned the right to vote. I’ll fight to the end for this. Freedom is more important than the process. Welcome to the American dream.
Which brings me to my next topic……
- All-star game favoritism
Every year the two managers from the previous season’s World Series, manage each league’s respective team. They pick the coaching staffs, and they help vote on the pitchers and reserves. That’s all well and good, but every year we see a ton of favoritism in the all-star game. Managers will always pick their own players over others. For instance there was one year when Joe Torre was still managing the Yankees. Torre the American League manager just voted in his own guys. Which is why half of that year’s American League roster were Yankees. We’re talking like 17 Yankees were all-stars that year. I think he even voted in the Yankee Stadium grounds crew.
This year favoritism reared it’s ugly head again at the all-star game. When National league manager Mike Matheny decided to make his own guy, Cardinal’s ace Adam Wainwright the starting pitcher for the National League instead of the best pitcher of our generation Clayton Kershaw. It blew up in his face when Wainwright gave up three runs in the first inning, and then later admitted to throwing legend Derek Jeter some meatballs on purpose. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t care, but it cost the NL the game and home field advantage in the World Series. It was also an embarrassment, and Lame.
- The scary part about the all-star game
There is a scary aspect to the all-star game. What if our guys get hurt? Remember that one year Pedro Martinez blew out his arm pitching in the all-star game? There are rules to prevent this from happening. Pitchers are not allowed to go more than two frames, and position players can only play for three or four innings. It helps, but there is still always a chance your players can get hurt. It wakes me up at night in cold sweats thinking about the possibility that Kershaw, or Puig, or Greinke could get hurt. When all four Dodgers were out of the game, I breathed a sigh of relief.
- Don’t play the game at a cold weather site
Not to say the game shouldn’t have been hosted at Target Field, which is a beautiful ball park. But next time maybe more planning would help. The home run derby was nearly rained out, and the inclement weather could have affected the all-star game too.
- Less cheesy hype and more Baseball please
One of the biggest of my gripes with the all-star game is there is way too much cheesy hype. There is more cheese than actual Baseball played. The cheese to hype to baseball ratio was extremely low. It seems to get lower and lower every year. According to the rules of the Fox executives there must be cheese between every inning of actual baseball played.
During the game there were several vignettes of Jeter that were shown throughout the game. There were videos of Jeter walking onto the field, and videos of Jeter shaking hands with all of his teammates, and there were videos of him taking batting practice for the final time in an all-star game. Then there were vignettes of his greatest moments, and vignettes just of him just looking out onto the field in awe. It was cheese incorporated. You could make a book out of all of Jeter’s accomplishments over his illustrious career, and let me tell you the final all-star game of his career wouldn’t even make the top 20.
They made a huge mistake not even mentioning the late great Tony Gwynn. They could have cut into the Jeter fest for a few minutes to recognize him. But then that would mean not knowing what Jeter ate for breakfast before the all-star game. Can’t have that can we Fox? Real classy Fox, real classy.
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But the cheese wasn’t just surrounding Jeter. There was hoopla everywhere. Little corny vignettes in between innings on different players were broadcast constantly. A’s all-star Josh Donaldson and a couple of his other teammates were grabbing each other’s hair in one video. Other videos involved players looking into the camera with serious faces while they put on their hat, or reached for a bat. Of course there were the commercials and the random images of the military interspersed between more videos of players goofing around. Then they had to show MVP Mike Trout winning a car for like a half hour. Maybe they should have been talking about the game instead of showing Trout adding to his whip collection.
There were corny introductions for some of the players, and way too much nonsense. Isn’t this game supposed to actually mean something now? World Series home field advantage is determined by this tomfoolery.
And that’s the thing, the all-star game is still an exhibition game, no matter how much the MLB office tries to convince us otherwise.
I remember when I was a kid the all-star game was larger than life. It was Tony Gwynn Sr. sliding safely into home plate in the tenth inning to score the winning run for the National League in the 1994 game. That’s what the all-star game is supposed to be about. Real Baseball. It was a ton of fun, because it was less about cheesy hype and more about the best hitters in baseball trying to hit the best pitchers. Sure there was some hype, but most of it was kept in check.
These days the hype is out of control. It gets worse and worse each season. One of these days I hope that the all-star game returns to focusing on the actual game instead of the hype. Until that happens the all-star game will remain a farce. It’s still fun to watch though when there is no other Baseball on. Anyways, never forget what the all-star game is truly about. Oh and pray another Yankee legend doesn’t retire, or it could turn into one long tribute video for two and a half hours.