I love baseball, and I sit here watching the 2012 All-Star Game and keep wondering what it meant to me as child. First of all, I was on vacation in Ocean City, like a lot of Baltimoreans did during the summer. Our entire family and friends sitting around the 25 inch color Zenith (yes, I said color) instead of hitting the boardwalk, miniature golfing, or going to Jolly Roger. That time was awesome. It was really exciting seeing the National League players including Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Steve Garvey, and Vida Blue when he left the A’s. I loved the Vida Blue uniform because it said ‘Vida’, not ‘Blue’. I even got angry every year they announced where the game would be played because it was never in Baltimore, but I cared. Remember, the last time the game was played in Baltimore prior to 1993, was 1958. I felt like we were forgotten because New York and Chicago had the game multiple times. (I get the fact that both cities dwarf Baltimore in number of people and have multiple teams, but I was young and that didn’t matter) The game meant something: although it really didn’t.
The only time I would get to see the National League as a kid would be on the Saturday Game of the Week with Tony Kubek, and Joe Garagiola. The National League was an enigma to me, different than my American League ball, but I did not know why. It had to be more than just the pitcher hitting, didn’t it? They were like superheroes, probably because from age 5 to 17, the American League only won 1 Mid Summer Classic, 1983 in Chicago.
Why has this feeling changed? It could be that I am paying for my vacation now, or that making sure the bills are paid is more important. My 12-year old is into the game, but not like my peers and I were back in the day. Anytime an Oriole got on the field, I was locked in like getting a sign from third base. The Ken Singleton home run in 1981 made me jump off the couch.
Again, why is it not an important, or essential to the American landscape? I guess inter-league play has killed this game. I am way to familiar with the Braves, Phillies, and Nationals. In some case guys will be playing against each other tonight that played against each other barely 2 weeks ago. That, is NOT special. This game is supposed to be special. For crying out loud, this exhibition is by far the best game of its type of all the major sports. (Except for having to listen Joe Buck and Tim McCarver)
Having the game give a league home field advantage has taken the meaning of the event away. Remember, the first All-Star game was an exhibition as part of the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933. If this were meant to have meaning other than bragging rights, you would have the best of the best, not a player from each team. Frankly, there were times the Orioles did not deserve a player but had one because it is an exhibition. We are putting the fate of playoff teams in the hands of a lot of players that have nothing at stake. The home field advantage should go to the team with the best record, period!
I guess this game will never be what it was, wanting to beat the other team for pride. I think we will have to leave this up to our youth teams!