All Star Game Still Lacking One Thing – From the Bird’s Nest
Last night, it didn't matter.
And I think most will find that to be a good thing.
Last night, the All-Star Game was exactly what it is supposed to be: an exhibition. Honestly, that wasn't always the case. Back in the earlier days, when there were separate presidents for the American and National League, separate umpires, separate schedules and no free agency, the players played the game like it was Armageddon. That's how Pete Rose ended Ray Fosse's career in 1970 (for the record, it was a good, hard baseball play.
But that waned with the homogenization of the game. There was no more "senior circuit" (National) or junior circuit (American.) It's just baseball.
Before the decision to award home field advantage in the World Series to the ASG winner, home field was alternated. No one cared who had the best record. But now, baseball has fixed that.
So there was nothing to do last night but enjoy the game. And, the players did. The Nationals' Bryce Harper wore a mic for a half inning and got a primer from Joe Buck about Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The Astros' George Springer did the same.
Alex Rodriguez (like him or not, he's turning into a very good analyst) did interviews with the infielders between innings...on the field. Nelson Cruz got Yadi Molina to take a picture of him with umpire Joe West. Molina high fived Cleveland's Francisco Lindor after hitting a game-tying home run (can you imagine THAT in the 60's or 70's...). Players wore specially designed shoes. Kenley Jansen giggled after being called for a balk. You think he does that in a regular season game? (He also struck out the side.) Robinson Cano' laughed after winning the MVP award and didn't hesitate about his choice of vehicle. That's easy. Gimme the Corvette.
But there were two things that didn't change. One of them is good.
Despite it "not meaning anything" these guys still have a lot of pride. Pitchers still want to get hitters out. Hitters still want to have success. Players in the field want to make plays and are willing to give up their bodies to do it. The desire to compete did not abate one iota. Did you hear NL starter Max Scherzer grunt on every pitch while facing Aaron Judge in the first inning? The guys were still playing to win. And probably doing it harder and more successfully than their counterparts in other All-Star games in the pro ranks.
But one thing didn't change.
As they have for the past decade or more, the pitchers totally dominated the hitters.
The AL scored on a bloop hit. Molina hit a homer. So did Cano'.
And, that's all, folks.
There were 23 strikeouts by pitchers in the ten inning game. The best hitters were facing the best pitchers and the pitchers were winning...again.
While a 2-1, 10 inning affair might be attractive to the hard line purist, it didn't do much for the fringe fan, who may have tuned in because he heard it was different this year, or maybe heard about the previous night's Home Run Derby and tuned in to see Judge, Bellinger, Sanchez, Sano', et al., pummel some fastballs into the night.
And, that just isn't good.
But hey...I have a solution. And, I think it's one that will work.
Take the team in each league with the worst statistical bullpen and put a couple of guys on each team. Let THEM pitch. One in the middle innings..another as the setup guy. But we need a name...Designated Donkeys, maybe?
The Nationals didn't need more All-Stars. But the Rangers could have used a couple.