....Or should I say, The Almost All-the-Stars Game?
I’ll be honest; I haven’t cared about the All*Star Game since the early 90′s. But I'm a passionate Baseball fan who still cares enough that it be done right and players come correct. So in light of Derek Jeter getting his 3,000th hit, I thought he should go to Arizona if only just to tip his cap. It’s a simple matter of respecting the fans who foot the bill for everything; to include these parks and mega-million dollar salaries.
Baseball, more than any other sport lives in its' past as well as it’s present. And because Baseball clings so dearly to it’s history, I feel Jeter should have recognized the significance of his achievement and shared it on a grander stage by managing an appearance. Sometimes there’s a thing called living up to responsibilities even when we don’t feel like it. It’s called being an adult. If he was OK to go 5 for 5 the other day and tip-toe up the dugout steps for a curtain call, then he’s OK enough to say hello in Arizona.
But not so much with Jeter; he's generally cool with me. My ire really rests with players as a whole. I really put blame on the players (the guilty ones who ruin it for the others...like steroids did!) becoming bigger than the game of baseball itself, rather than the other way around. And yes, it's because of their salaries. Once, players wouldn't even think of missing the All*Star Game because of the bonuses involved. This year, an all-time high number of players missed or skipped out on the game. But players of the past also thought of it as a privilege to represent their respective cities; yes, back when players were bound, and yet in most cases loyal, to few teams in their careers and before agents decided what was in players' best interests.
But when I say they've become bigger than the game, it's because of the overall apathy the players feel towards the A.S. game itself. I see the All*Star Game as part of their work place environment and as such, attendance is of the utmost importance. But being a ballplayer is living a somewhat charmed life, and there is simply no structure when they don’t want structure. Structure is OK when they decide upon it. And so because the inmates are running the asylum in Selig's zany world of Baseball, we get stupid, impotent rules like making the All-Star Game decide home field advantage in the World Series. Why? Because there is no such thing as making a player feel guilty about not going as long as he's getting paid guaranteed money.
Being a player is hard work with long hours. They get days off only after every twenty-something consecutive days with grueling travel in between. I get that. But this is part of the job description and the fact of the matter is the All-Star Game is, or should be, above the player and more about the fan; just like it was originally intended to be back in the 1930's. Everything is great when it comes to taking our money. But the All-Star Game is about giving back.
So yes, because of the money ballplayers make, in the name of Henry Chadwick, humble yourselves and show up. I'm not asking them to do anything that hasn't been done before them, and by many who were genuinely happy to be there.
It’s a jaded view; I know. But it's also the truth.