Today, Major League Baseball announced their 2012 rosters for their annual All Star game, and surprisingly enough the Chicago Cubs get to see two of their very own make the squad. Starlin Castro and Bryan LaHair get the call as reserves, neither one meriting enough fan votes to crack the starting roster, though Castro did lead all short stops in player votes, with LaHair getting the second most votes by the players for first baseman. Congratulations to the both of them for receiving the honor of playing in the midsummer classic. Remember friend, this game counts.
Excuse me if I do not get too excited over a meaningless game, even though the winning team does earn home field advantage for their league in the World Series. Honestly though, while baseball does have the best of the all star games, the tag line “this one counts” is complete bullshit, and most of the players feel the same way too. Back in the glory days of baseball (something we are far from) playing in the All Star game used to be an honor players dreamed of. Seeing players representing your league against those villains who played a different kind of baseball used to mean something. Now because of Commissioner Bud Selig’s ruling 10 years ago which ended the game in a 7-7 tie, we get this crap of “this time the game counts”.
Sadly, that was not what killed the All Star game, that was done years ago when inter-league games were introduced. While many fans love seeing their heroes play against teams from the other league, those games take away from the luster of what the All Star game used to provide. The game was a showcase of the best of the best, a battle of ours against yours. Outside of the World Series, this was the only time you would see the two leagues cross paths. The All Star game used to be a matter of pride.
Who can forget how hard players used to play in this game, and how personal the game was for some. If you need an example of how personal the game used to be, and how much players actually cared about winning, look no further than the Pete Rose and Ray Fosse incident in the 1970 All Star game. Bottom of the 12th inning, Rose barreled over the catcher to earn a win for the National League. Players used to care about being in the game, and used to consider making the squad an honor. I do not believe that players now a day really care; unless of course they get a bonus for an All Star selection. Other than that, I am sure most players could not care less about making the squad.
How many players a year opt out of the game so they can have an extended vacation? If they actually cared about the game, they would not do so. Of course, many of the ones who do are the veterans who have been to several games and have enjoyed the spotlight of being named as one of the games best, but they decide not to play in a game that is supposed to mean something. They want no part of a game that is supposed to matter. Forget the fans who voted them in (I will get back to this in a minute), they want an extended vacation away from the game. Perhaps they are being gracious and stepping aside so a younger player can experience the honor, but should that be allowed for a game that has something on the line? The game is meaningless now a days, fans have lost interest in the midsummer classic, and apparently so have many players.
If this game is supposed to mean something, Selig must step forward and deny any and all requests (minus players who are LEGITIMATELY injured) to opt out of the game. Furthermore, he should take even further action, and take the voting away from the fans. Leaving the vote in the hands of the fans makes the game nothing more than a popularity contest. How many times have you seen a player who has spent half the season on the disabled list get voted in by the fans? One time is far too many and proves my point that the game has turned into a popularity contest instead of the best against the best.
If this game is supposed to mean something, and actually determines anything in the future, then the game should be treated as such. There are several steps that must be taken if this game is going to actually look and feel like things matter. They must allow the managers of each team to select every player on the All Star game roster, and remove the rule of needing at least one player from every team. There have been several years when this rule placed an undeserving player on the squad, and left one off who should have been there, and would have been if not for this mandate. If you want to make the fans feel involved, fine, keep the vote for the final player. Allow them to vote for the one player they like, whomever they want, majority rules. Other than that, leave the fans out of the discussion and out of the decision on who makes the team. If the powers that be want to keep the fans involved, take away any and all meaning behind the event. They should do that regardless of if the fans get to vote or not.
The Midsummer Classic has long since lost the luster that once made the game a must watch event, and I do not see things getting better any time soon.