By Ryan Mayer, CBS Local Sports
It’s that time of the year again baseball fans.
For the next two weeks we will hear the incessant complaining about the All-Star Game and the events surrounding it. Pundits will propose changes, radio hosts will ask for ways to make it more entertaining and we’ll all feed into it because this time of the year there’s not much else to do.
The problem with the All-Star Game isn’t the product being boring. It’s not that the league has tried to force meaning on what should in reality be a meaningless game (though this is a problem, it’s one we all accept). The problem is us as fans. We lost our sense of wonder somewhere along the way, our sense of fun.
The mid-summer classic is and always has been for entertainment purposes of the fans. When Arch Ward the editor of the Chicago Tribune came up with the concept for the first All-Star game in 1933 it was billed as a “Dream Game” as part of the larger World’s Fair taking place in Chicago at the time. That’s the heart of the game.
Much has been made during the course of this season over the voting process. Royals fans at one point had found a way to vote 8 of their 9 position players into starting spots. That led to much consternation, philosophizing on both sides and in the end forced the league to cancel between 60-65 million votes. Since that time, the races for starting spots have now gotten much tighter, with more variety of teams leading the races.
Maybe the game has lost part of its luster because of interleague play. The allure of the All-Star Game in the beginning and up through 1997 when interleague play was introduced, was seeing the best players in the AL meet up with the best players in the NL for the only time before the World Series. Match-ups you would dream about seeing played out on the field for that one night a year. Now, we see that with regularity during the season.
It isn’t just the game that comes under attack this time of the year though. The Home Run Derby has changed its rules once again to continue to try and evolve with the times. Those changes haven’t been met with rave reviews. I get it. The argument of there’s only so many times I can watch someone swing and hit a baseball very far before I get bored is an understandable one. But, this is where our lost sense of wonder comes in.
Remember when you were a child watching the Derby? If you were anything like me you would sit in front of the television watching the behemoths of the game hit baseball after baseball into the endless night wondering how any human could possibly hit a ball that far. Then, the next day or the day after you’d round up your friends and head out into the backyard or the nearest local ball field that wasn’t being used and have your own Derby.
Maybe it’s a part of growing up, that we no longer have a sense of amazement watching these events. Maybe it’s like many of the relics of our childhood that we eventually grow out of. But, this year, try to take the time to sit and recapture that feeling you got watching as a kid, seeing the best in the game play together on a “dream team” or hit bombs into the night.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him. Agree/Disagree? Thoughts, comments, complaints? Email him.