I recently came across a treasured book from childhood that detailed Detroit Tigers history up until 1988. I must have read and re-read that book at least 40 times. I discovered it in a box of childhood keepsakes that have made the many moves through college, my first home in Michigan, and then down to Florida.
Inside I found handmade scorecards for several All-Star games in the early 1990’s. I never understood how to properly keep score back then, so I created my own system. As a kid, the All-Star game was a must-see event, something I’d look forward to through most of the summer. Sadly, as an adult, the All-Star game has lost its luster.
While I think it’s great the Tigers have the most All-Stars (six, maybe seven) since 1985, and a starter (something very rare for a Tiger in the usual sea of Red Sox, Yankees and fading stars being voted out of habit by the fans), it doesn’t resonate with me as it once did. Gone are the days of watching into the late innings, hoping the lone Tiger gets an at-bat or heads to the mound–and cursing Cito Gaston for not selecting “My Tiger” of the time, Mickey Tettleton, to the 1993 contest.
A couple factors lead me to this blase attitude. The first All-Star game was in 1933 at Comiskey Park. It was organized to be an event in Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition. The game would became an annual tradition (and from 1959 to 1962, a semi-annual tradition).
It thrived because it offered the chance to see Willie Mays on the same field as Ted Williams, or to see a National League star on the field at Tiger Stadium. Today, both of these notions are outdated. Not only do we now have interleague play every day, but every game is on TV. If you’re an avid fan of baseball, odds are you have seen each of the All-Stars on both the AL and NL play this season, whether it was against the Tigers, taking in an out of market game, or by catching the highlights on the MLB Network. The ASG just doesn’t seem all that special and unique anymore.
Additionally, before free agency–it really meant something to beat the other league. Players would play as hard, if not harder, as a regular season game because the superiority of one league was on the line. Back then it was rare to see a player as an NL All-Star and then an AL All-Star later in his career. Today that happens all the time.
And let’s not get started on the home field advantage decided by an exhibition game–why has baseball always refused to award home field in the championship round to the team with the better record?
Finally, its always good to get a vacation–even from the things you love. It makes you love them even more and look forward to seeing them again. Baseball is a very long season, and even the most die-hard fan would have trouble seeing every single game over the six month season (and if we’re lucky, into October). Sometimes its good to get a break from watching, analyzing, and figuratively living and dying on every pitch. The Home Run Derby (which has become “ESPN-ized” and pretty much ruined) and All-Star game get in the way of our mid-year respite.
I realize this article may have channeled the ghost of Andy Rooney, but the All-Star game has devolved from a must-see event to something I will flip the channel to for a bit, or do something else while its on in the background.
What say you Motor City Bengals faithful? Is the game still a must-see event, a passing interest, or completely off your radar screen?