Why I Don’t Watch The All-Star Game

When I was young, my family and I would huddle around our bulky, inelegant, cathode ray tube television set and watch the baseball All-Star game. The game itself started at 8:00pm, with the pregame festivities seemingly starting some 12 hours prior.

Before the advent of the internet and cable TV, the only time you saw unfamiliar players and uniforms is when other teams came to play your hometown favorite - - and never from the opposite league. That would be akin to bringing matter from our world and antimatter from a parallel universe together in the same room. Or crossing the streams. Or whatever paraphysical analogy you're into these days.

What I'm trying to say is the All-Star game used to be exotic, like that dark-skinned kid in middle school from that unspecified country in the middle-far-east-Asia-whatever (only applies to rice-white suburbanites like me; your mileage may vary). For the past several years, conversely, the All-Star game has become both antiseptic and ho-hum. I think it started when they changed the rule that players no longer wear their own uniforms and have to play in HIDEOUS National League and American League garb. Now believe me, some teams actually had hideous uniforms of their own, complete with various colors, stripes, logos, stars and mascots placed on their shirts, pants and hats in seemingly random fashion. But at least those atrocities were INSPIRED. All-Star uniforms of the past several years are just lazy-ugly.

And then there's an overfamiliarity with the players themselves. What with ESPN and (gasp!) interleague play, we've seen all these characters before. Several times. They've actually done studies with rats and determined that the little critters' heart rates accelerate more intensely when confronted with a Hallmark™ special than when confronted with a baseball All-Star game. Don't argue with me, folks. It's science.

So what was major league baseball to do with all those rats changing the channel every year? How's about bolting contrived, artificial consequences onto the game results. "That'll enhance the natural beauty of the sport," they must've thought. So, now if your league wins the game, they will have an advantage during a championship series held only 3 1/2 months later after 20-something teams have already been eliminated. No way will the excitement of the All-Star game outcome subside by then, I'm sure -- I mean, if only the fans (or the rats) were actually able to remember it.

My favorite scenario, however, involves the All-Star player from the team who, after only 1/2 the season, is mired in last place some 50 games behind the first-place team - - what's his incentive? "Oh, I better play my heart out so that so-and-so (rival player he really hates and whom he suspects may be sleeping with his wife) has a chance for baseball glory and untold millions in bonuses and endorsements - - OOPS, why did I swing at THAT pitch?"

So in spite of baseball executives' best efforts (excuse me, I just threw up in my mouth a little), the game still really doesn't matter much at all - - just as it didn't so many years ago. All that happened is that we switched from natural irrelevance to contrived irrelevance - - the latter being a truly American construct like apple pie, hot dogs and...

um, baseball.

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