Justin Verlander clearly has a set opinion about what he thinks the MLB All-Star Game is about, and it isn’t about galavanting off with Kate Upton, instead to him it is nothing but a glorified exhibition.
Ever since baseball established the idea the All-Star game should determine home-field advantage in the World Series, the two leagues have played some pretty fascinating games. Tuesday’s game was anything but interesting and was a snooze-fest almost as soon as it started. Of course, the major guy to blame for it was Verlander himself.
In the first inning, Verlander gave up five runs to the National League, was wild and, despite not getting much help from Jose Bautista in right field, could not keep the ball even remotely close to the infield. His performance was out of character and made many wonder what was up with last year’s Cy Young and MVP winner. Later in the evening, Verlander would explain the rough outing and poor command with a quietly alarming opinion.
“I know nobody wants to see me throw 90 mph” Verlander said, via MLive.com. “They like to see the 100 mph fastball. So, hey, I gave them that.”
Clearly to Verlander then, the game isn’t about winning and getting home-field advantage, it is instead about trying to put on a show. It is no secret, casual fans may like to see the high-heat and silly curves he throws, but not the hardcore ones. And what if his preseason favorite Detroit Tigers find themselves in the World Series? Suddenly I imagine he might wish he had painted those corners a little more.
Although, if you know Verlander, he might just want more opportunities to get his first career major league hit this year.
Verlander’s comments may not earn him another All-Star Game start, nor should it, but it does begin to beg the question about how much the players really care about the game. Sure, there was the video of Chipper Jones telling the NL he didn’t want to go out with a loss. If other players are like Verlander though, I doubt his speech stuck in any of their hearts.
In one slip of the tongue, Verlander seems to have unraveled baseball’s marketing line from the last few years of “this time it counts.” Since, if it doesn’t count to the players, who ultimately might have to play in the World Series, who does it really matter to then? If the opinion Verlander offered up is wildly held by baseball players, chances are the whole making it count idea is nothing but a marketing ruse by Bud Selig and the MLB to sell ads and seats.
Sure, people will always tune into the game. It isn’t hard to imagine though, that a few more fans have watched the last few years after seeing the return of close games after 2006 and the NL’s now three-game winning streak. It will be interesting to see if people will think of the game the same way next year, knowing what they know now.
If Verlander’s comments stick around, you have to think many are going to think of the game as just a way to watch players they don’t normally see demonstrate what are essentially the equivalent of cheap baseball tricks. The game should be known for fun competitive baseball, but if it isn’t anymore, then we are back to square-one, with it being meaningless.