All-Star News Blues

July 6, 2012

We have reached the time of the year where everyone (players, managers, sports media, fans) grouse about the All-Star game. Primarily it’s because their favorite player was snubbed, or that some standout veteran on his way to retirement should get one last hurrah on the national stage. The debates are (seemingly) endless. Just to point out a few:

* All-Star Game or popularity contest? In 1957, Cincinnati Reds fans were accused of stuffing the ballot boxes to put as many of their players on the NL team as possible. Seven Reds players were “elected,” including Ed Bailey, Johnny Temple, Roy McMillan, Don Hoak, Frank Robinson, Gus Bell and Wally Post. Baseball commissioner Ford Frick stepped in and replaced the last two with Willie Mays and hank Aaron. And all this was before Twitter and other Internet social programs employed by teams to enlist support. David Wright was leading NL third baseman, but a last-minute surge gave the starting assignment to Pablo Sandoval of the Giants? Fair or foul?

* Dusty Baker is upset with Tony LaRussa, who comes out of retirement to manage the NL squad. Baker is upset that two of his players were left off the team. So you get the debate over whether every ball club should be represented, which is much more arduous now than when there were only 10 teams in each league.

Frenemies?

Then there’s the “relevance” factor, as per Allen Barra’s piece in The Atlantic. In olden days, before widespread TV coverage, the ASG represented the only times the fans could see all these standouts. Now, not so much.

Then there’s the issue of having the All-Star Game the determining factor for home field advantage in the World Series. What motivation does a player for a last-place team have to “pull together” for honor of his league?

Just some food for thought.

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