Eventually this post is going to be about Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig, but let’s start from a more abstract position and ask a question: how the hell did Major League Baseball find a way to screw up the All-Star Game? Wasn’t there a time in America not that long ago when people actually looked forward to the Midsummer Classic? It’s the All-Star Game. This shouldn’t be hard to pull off.
For sake of this discussion (and brevity), let’s throw out the patently asinine decision to have an exhibition in July to determine the homefield advantage in the World Series.
Each passing July it feels more and more like we’ve reached the point where every bit of enjoyment the All-Star Game once possessed has been drained and replaced by tedium. Is there anything less enjoyable than the annual “Who Got Snubbed” stories? It’s an exhibition game in the middle of July, let’s not get too worked up about it. We’re not picking our best baseball players to ward off an alien invasion — even with homefield advantage on the line the stakes remain low.
And speaking of low, baseball might have hit rock bottom this week with its Internet campaign for the final roster spot in each league. The Tigers and Giants — World Series foes last October — formed a voting block. The Red Sox were offering Pedro Martinez signed merchandise to help get Puig elected.
That’s that least of the All-Star Game’s concerns at the moment. Let fans have their fun on the Internet and vote for whomever they want. Steve Delabar might not be a household name anywhere outside of Ontario, but he’s a worthy reliever and a nice story after making the big leagues at age 27 following a massive elbow injury. Freddie Freeman doesn’t have the buzz of Puig, but don’t slam guy with a .313/.392/.477 line on a first-place team Braves team.
This brings us back to Puig. All week we heard the same repetitive droning that the Cuban defector “has to” make the team. Or that baseball needs his “sizzle” for America to pay attention. A lot of this pro-Puig hype was driven by ESPN, which has gone all-in on the 22-year-old since the network has trouble covering sports outside marquee or “name” players. This argument tends to forget he didn’t make his debut until June 3, which still gives him ample time to earn Rookie of the Year honors.
And now, on top of Puig’s All-Star snub, there are growing rumbling of a Puig backlash (that was quick), citing his immaturity or other ills (read: he doesn’t like the media) as seen in this cringe-worthy Fox Sports column by John Paul Morosi.
How about looking at it this way: Thursday night you were either going to tune into “Sharknado” or you weren’t. The allure of Tara Reid appearing it, likely didn’t sway you one way or another. Same thing goes with Puig and the All-Star Game. In the age of every game available on the Internet, highlight packages, GIFs, etc. if you’ve wanted to see Puig play, chances are you already have. Having him appear in the seventh inning next Tuesday in Citi Field and have one at-bat — maybe against Delabar — isn’t moving the needle one way or another. Is somebody out there in TV land still on the fence about the All-Star Game and Puig is the tipping point? That’s hard to fathom.
As it is, baseball fans will get plenty of Puig the rest of 2013 since the once morbid Dodgers now trail the Diamondbacks by only 1.5 games in the National League West and are 23-13 since his debut.
Again, it’s arguments like this — contrived or not — that have turned the All-Star Game from a fun little escape into an annoyance every July.
In a perfect world, here’s what the All-Star Game should consist of: players coming out of the dugout, toeing either the first or third base line, tipping their cap to the fans … and that’s it. Throw in some Vin Scully and we’re done.
Sorry for being so cranky here. Damn kids were on my lawn all night last night setting off M-80s.
Related: Yasiel Puig Didn’t Make the All-Star Game Because He’s Clearly Cheating
Related: Vin Scully Described Yasiel Puig as “Not to be Believed” After a First-Pitch Home Run [Video]
Related: Yasiel Puig Doesn’t Look Like He’ll be Joining the ‘Kevin Maas All-Stars’ Anytime Soon