The MLB All-Star game: A brief history [by Stevo]
Major League Baseball’s All-Star festivities are back!
Every year on the second Tuesday in July the league’s best, as voted on by the fans, gather in a pre-determined city (St. Louis in this case) and play one blockbuster game that features the best 33-man roster that each league can produce.
An alluring concept to say the least, having both the American League and the National League stars pitted against each other on a perfectly cool night for baseball to mark the midway point in the season.
The All-Star break is three days off to mark the midway point in the season, giving players a day off before and after the All-Star Game. On the Monday of the All-Star break they hold the Home Run Derby (won this year by Prince Fielder, with 23 total home runs worth 10,087 feet in total distance), a chance for the fans to see the top power hitters in each league face off in a battle of brute force to see who can hit the most home runs in a tournament-style fashion.
This year is a special year for the fans of the Boston Red Sox for a few reasons, giving us a night that may actually rival the pride felt when the All-Star break came to Fenway in 1999 (also hosting one of the best, albeit steroid driven, Home Run Derby contests ever). The Red Sox give three major highlights to this year’s game which is more than any other team:
First, the Sox send in the top vote-getter, Jason Bay, who received roughly 4 million more votes than any other player. Second, the Sox are also sending in six players, the most of any team. The two teams in second place, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia, are sending in five a piece, which is nearly as good a feat and deserves notice.
The third, but perhaps most important highlight to this year’s game, is the selection of Tim Wakefield to the roster, his first selection in 15+ years of service. Wake has been a staple of the Sox for anybody 25 and under and his dreaded knuckleball has been a marvel to baseball players and fans everywhere.
The All-Star Game does have a major flaw, however, and who would I be if I didn’t point it out. As always, we can thank Mr. Bud Selig for this wonderful addition that may have signed the NL’s death warrant. Forever the game was an exhibition game and meant nothing, it just held the allure of being able to watch the stars of the other league play in a game with the stars of your league. Fans of the Red Sox could read all they wanted about Ozzie Smith in St. Louis making circus plays at shortstops but never see it. Then July came and he was on the field in the All-Star Game and we could all see it and marvel in its glory. It was the only time other than the World Series when you could see a team in the other league play.
In the mid 90s Selig decided to create Interleague play, where in June each division plays a division in the other league, instead of just playing the teams in your own league. Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy Interleague play, but it stole the appeal of the All-Star Game, and its meaning along with it. So Selig decided to jazz up the All-Star Game by making it so the league that wins the All-Star Game gets home field advantage in the World Series, as opposed to giving it to the better of the two teams, which is how it should be. The American League has been destroying the National League in the game in recent history, and have been getting home field advantage despite possibly being an inferior team. We’ve all witnessed how important home field can be, and to potentially put the outcome of the World Series on an exhibition game in July is just plain wrong. The event itself is great, and highly enjoyable, but should remain as entertainment when not every player can make a difference in the result of his team’s season, which is what team sports is supposed to be about.