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#12: 2008 Midsummer Classic

July 16, 2008

I usually try to leave sports blogging up to the professionals, but the 2008 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was an event I feel compelled to write on. Starting with Josh Hamilton‘s 28 dingers in the Home Run Derby on Monday and ending with Justin Morneau‘s 15th inning race to home plate, this year’s ASG showed baseball the way I like to see it. As a former high school pitcher and current lover of the game there’s nothing I like ot see more than a good old fashion defensive duel, and that was what I got last night.

I missed the first 6 innings of the game and got home just in time to swipe the television from my wife and catch Adrian Gonzalez‘s (San Diego’s only representative) entry into the game. I wasn’t entirely interested in watching the game and seeing a familiar face in the line up was definitely attention getting. Of course, when I started watching the game I had no idea that I had a little over three hours of game left to watch (unfortunately neither did my wife).

Anyway, if you watched the game (and even better if you saw all 15 innings) you got to see one of the best played games in a long time. Sure it went long and was about to get ugly as bullpens had been depleted, but for the 15 innings it ran, this years ASG put on a display of fundamental baseball. The game had its share of great defensive plays, stolen bases, sac flies and bunts. The pitching was what you would expect for a match between the game’s top players…it was great.

Unfortunately the whole, “this time it counts” campaign is becoming a massive joke. With depleted pitching rosters (the NL had Brandon Webb on short leash and a severe lack of hospitalized Tim Lincecum, and the AL was limited in their use of Scott Kazmir) the two teams were not prepared for a 15 inning game. On top of that, one of the great things about the ASG is the managers’ effort to get everyone in the game. The ASG was designed to be an exhibition of the game’s best players, and unfortunately in this new era of “winner gets home field advantage in the World Series” some players are held back just in case they need a late inning entry. This sort of paid off in ’08, but in previous years some players were held back and never got into the game at all.

Prior to 2003, home field advantage in the World Series alternated between leagues. This worked fine, though I also understand the want for a merit based home field advantage. After all that’s how it works in the NFL and NBA playoffs…best record gets the advantage. while making the ASG worth something more than exhibition is an interesting idea, many of the participants likely won’t see the post season let alone make it to the World Series. A better solution would be to base home field advantage on some other record, either the teams’ overall records or their records in interleague play.

Overall, the 2008 MLB All Star Game was a lot of fun to watch. I loved Nate McLouth‘s late inning throw out of Dioner Navarro and that young guys like Evan Longoria, and Adrian Gonzalez were able to make big contributions on the national stage. But as much as I would’ve loved to see the game come down to a pitching duel between JD Drew and David Wright, I also understand that managers are concerned about injuries and risks that occur from playing out of position or overworking (Kazmir and Webb). I’m not a fan of expanding the All-Star roster (let’s not dilute what All-Star means) and I’m not really sure what can be done to prevent ties in these sorts of games except to let teams slug it out until it’s all done. That might mean letting position players pitch, but more importantly I think it means ending the “this time it counts” campaign.

I’m sure Bud Selig will never read this blog…heck…I’m not sure that more than 15 people will read this, and I’m sure even fewer will care about baseball…either way Selig…end “this time it counts”. Make the ASG an exhibition and stop worrying about ties. Just let the men play the game.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Meg permalink
    February 18, 2009 7:53 pm

    This year, we will watch it together. I’m thinking about reinstating the all-star game party we had a couple years ago. Although i don’t think anymore besides you, jared, and tim would come.

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