My annual anti-All-Star Game rant

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I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time getting my All-Star rah-rah on. I hate to fall in line with all of those other cranks, but the fact is that the All-Star Game ain’t what it used
to be. Which would be fine — exhibitions can be fun — but the whole home field advantage in the World Series thing goes and messes it up even on that level.  Home field matters, and here we have Charlie Manuel putting Andre Ethier in center field and writing Ryan Howard in the cleanup spot against a lefty for some damn reason.  That’s galling enough all things being equal, but seeing as though my Braves have a non-trivial chance of winning the pennant this year I’m starting to take it personally. And I love me some Charlie Manuel, so getting irked at him is not a fun experience at all.

You know my other complaints before I give voice to them: there are too many players. Too many pitchers coming in to fire gas for an inning and thus
lowering offense so much that even a pitching guy like me finds the proceedings boring. How much better would the game be if they’d simply cut down the rosters a bit and get rid of the every-team-must-have-a-player rule? We’ll never know because it ain’t gonna happen, so I should probably just stop my grousing now.

I guess what really gets me here — and stop me if my nostalgia is interfering with, you know, the facts — but I really do feel like the All-Star Game mattered a lot more back in the day, even if it didn’t count for anything as important as home field advantage. Maybe not to the players. I don’t buy that “they cared more back then” line that people fall for. Everyone likes to trot out the Rose-plows-into-Fosse story, but (a) I think Rose would be knocking over guys if he played now too; and (b) I think guys tried hard then and now in equal measure. Some care, some don’t, They just played more innings back then so it looked like more cared.

No, it’s to the fans that it doesn’t seem to matter as much anymore. It used to be that the only chance we had to see of a lot of guys was during the All-Star Game, but now we have multiple national games a week and if you have the Extra Innings package or MLB.tv you can see any player just about any night.  And that was the thrill for me, really, seeing guys like Dave Parker or Mike Schmidt in my American League TV market back in the early 80s. There’s really no novelty to it anymore.

I’m prepared to admit that I’m falling into baseless cliche here, and if I am, tell me so.  But for the past several years of blogging about baseball I’ve been unable to escape the feeling that the game I love devotes a night to unorthodox and aesthetically unsatisfying play with the added annoyance of something actually important being decided, and I just can’t abide it.

I’m a sucker, though, so as always, I’ll watch it. But as I do I’ll be asking myself: why?

Blue Jays score seven runs in ninth to come back and beat Rays 9-8

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The Blue Jays’ playoff hopes were dashed a long, long time ago, but they’re happy to play spoiler as the end of the regular season draws near. On Thursday evening, the Jays trailed the Rays 8-2 entering the bottom of the ninth inning. They proceeded to put up a seven-spot to walk off 9-8 winners, handing the Rays a devastating loss in the midst of their quest to reach the postseason.

Dwight Smith started things off with a leadoff double against Jaime Schultz. Rowdy Tellez followed up by doubling him in. Jonathan Davis was hit by a pitch and then, after Reese McGuire struck out, Danny Jansen hit a three-run homer to left field. Enter Sergio Romo. Romo struck out Richard Ureña, but then allowed a single to Kendrys Morales, a two-run homer to Lourdes Gurriel, then a walk-off solo homer to Justin Smoak.

According to FanGraphs, the Jays had a 0.4 percent chance of winning entering the bottom of the ninth inning. Their probability rose to a measly 4.8 percent after Morales singled. Gurriel’s homer made it 53.8 percent, an increase of a whopping 49 percent.

After the awful loss, the Rays fall to 6.5 games behind the Athletics — who won 21-3 over the Angels earlier — for the second Wild Card in the American League. They have 10 games remaining.