The MLB All-Star Game: She Ain't What She Used To Be

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Editor's Note: The article below was posted on our previous website before last year's All-Star Game in Washington.  

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game (a.k.a. The Mid-Summer Classic) is still the most genuine and purest of the four major sports all-star games.  The NFL’s Pro-Bowl has never generated interest among the fans, and the players were so disinterested in the game that the NFL had to play it in Hawaii just to get players to show up.  The NHL All-Star Game keeps trying new formats, and the last time someone played defense in the NBA All-Star Game the players were wearing canvas high tops.

Photo courtesy of si.com
Baseball’s All-Star Game is different.  It doesn’t need to rely on gimmicks or rule changes to make the game more appealing.  Pitchers are not restricted from throwing their best pitches to increase offense.  Defensive plays are frequently the biggest highlights of the game.  Remember Torii Hunter robbing Barry Bonds of a home run in 2002?  While the MLB All-Star Game is still the best of the four majors, the game today does not approach the luster and appeal it once held in the sports world.

2019 MLB All-Star Gear at MLBshop.comThis article is not meant to be a rant from an old-timer to tell the youngens how much better things were in his day.  They weren’t.  We live in a tremendous age of technology and instant information.  Times have changed, and with that change, everything must evolve.  The glamour of the All-Star Game is an unfortunate casualty to those changing times.

Today every game is televised.  People can watch games virtually anywhere on their phones.  Highlights of titanic home runs or exceptional defensive plays can be shown nationwide seconds after they happen.  The great players hitting those home runs and making those great plays can be seen anywhere, any time, with just a click or two on your chosen electronic device.

Now, if you can, try to imagine a time before Inter-league play, before the internet, before ESPN and the 24-hour news cycle.  Imagine a time when there were only two games televised nationwide per week.  Imagine not seeing highlights from games until several days after those games were played.  That is, if there was a camera in the stadium to record that highlight.


Back in that time, most Red Sox games were not even televised locally.  The MLB All-Star Game was perhaps your only opportunity to see the great players in the game.  If there was a great player on a not-so-great team in the National League, you may never have gotten the chance to see that player play live outside of the All-Star Game.  If your home team was not good, as the Red Sox frequently were not during that time, it was also a rare chance to see your favorite players on national television.

Red Sox trips to the World Series were few and far between in those days.  The All-Star Game was also your only opportunity to see Sox players compete against the best players from the National League.  If Mookie Betts faces Max Scherzer in Tuesday’s game, the moment is diminished because it happened three times during a regular season game just last week.

For baseball fans of that era, the All-Star Game ranked above even the World Series as a must-see event.  In those days, the game itself was the draw.  Baseball did not need a Home Run Derby to generate interest in the game.  The All-Star Game was once such a spectacle that it was played twice a year from 1959 to 1962.

For me, the All-Star Game is still something I look forward to watching.  It’s still cool to see all the players line up on the baselines in their differently colored team uniforms and be introduced to cheers or boos, depending on the city and the rivalry level with their team.  I still enjoy watching the greats of the game play against each other.  But knowing some of those players are likely going to be playing each other right after the break takes some of the bloom off the rose.  The game is still fun, but not as special as it once was.


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Boston Sports Syndicate: The MLB All-Star Game: She Ain't What She Used To Be
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