Welcome to the 13th Purple Row edition (and 118th overall) of Tuesdays With Mitch, where we launch buzzer-beating walk-offs every week. Let's get into it...
The MLB All-Star Game happens tonight and with it comes excitement for some, and apathy and disinterest for others. Indeed, when discussing the All-Star Game, a common stance has become one of contempt. It's cool to be "too cool" for the All-Star Game. Haters abound. Old-timers can't discuss the game without babbling about Ray Fosse and Pete Rose and the days before Interleague Play and free agency. The players really CARED back then! Gee thanks, Pops. The younger, more engaged crowd focuses on the selections and snubs, but just bitches about the actual game. The game means too much! The game doesn't mean enough! Yeah I hear ya, bro.
I love the All-Star Game. It's one of my favorite sporting events of the year. As a baseball fan, I think you should love it too. It's awesome.
Now, I'm not here to say the All-Star Game comes without issues. I have plenty of problems with the whole process and many of them are the same ones Matt Gross laid out in his great rant yesterday. Essentially my beef is that MLB tries to have it both ways. If you want the game to "mean something", that's cool. Sounds fun! Home field advantage in the World Series? Okay, that's a little weird. Seems like a pretty arbitrary way to decide an important thing, but hey that'll make the All-Star Game fun in July. The problem with this is that if you take that route you have to take the selection process more seriously.
Most notably, of course, would be eliminating the fan voting. If the game is for real, you can't have 50-year-old Derek Jeter hobbling out to shortstop lugging around a .650 OPS and two broken ankles because fans like him. Fans are stupid. We all know this. Let people who know what they're talking about select the deserving participants. Players and managers, writers, me, whatever. And the rosters shouldn't be decided until the last possible day. Part of the reason fans tend to make dumb decisions is because the voting starts in, like, early May or something. In no way does that make any sense. Of course, if we just eliminate the fan vote altogether the timing won't be an issue because it won't exist.
The other part of the selection process that needs changing would be the "each team gets one representative" rule. Nah. That's a cute idea, but we're playing for real here. Some teams don't have any All-Star-worthy players. So be it.
But all of these qualms I have deal with the selection process or the game's "meaning" or exhibition-ness.
I may not like the way some of the participants get there, and I may not love the All-Star Game when it's deciding where Game Seven is played in October, but dammit I love the thing on the second Tuesday night in July.
Do the players even care about the game? Of course the players care. They're professional athletes competing against one another with important stuff on the line. Professional athletes are competitive! That's part of their deal. Also, on a personal level, this is their chance to prove themselves on a national stage against the best players in the game. And again, the game does mean something now, whether you like it or not. The gigglefests of Larry Walker hitting right-handed and Barry Bonds hugging Torii Hunter and TIES are long gone.
The All-Star Game is better for it. Is Major League Baseball better for it on the whole? I don't know, but I will not care for three or four hours tonight. We get real baseball now! Intense, competitive, fun, real baseball.
Watch the game tonight and you'll see plenty of intensity and focus from the participants. They're into it. They won't be trying to break each other's collar bones. That would be stupid. But it's not like they're wandering around in sandals filling up a red Solo cup of Coors Light at second base.
Remember when Aaron Cook got out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the tenth inning of the 2008 ASG without giving up a run? Man, he got that third out and was so jacked up. Punching his glove and pumping his fist and screaming YEAH! at the ground and flexing and stuff. That stuff is awesome.
The present-day All-Star Game has pick-offs and pitchouts and sacrifice bunts and hit-and-runs and intentional walks. I realize I just listed a bunch of the not-that-exciting aspects of a baseball game, but dammit, that's baseball! And we like baseball 'round these parts.
My favorite part about watching the Mid-Summer Classic is always the pitcher/hitter matchups. We get to see elite pitchers face elite hitters in every at-bat for an entire baseball game. Who doesn't want to watch a matchup like... I don't know, Chris Sale vs. Joc Pederson? Or Troy Tulowitzki vs. Kelvin Herrera? Or Manny Machado vs. Gerrit Cole? We get like four hours of that tonight. I could watch a 24-hour All-Star Game if that was a possibility. Really give all 68 players a chance to show their stuff.
And yes, it's always exciting when the local favorites get their opportunity in the spotlight, especially when those players come from a smaller market like Colorado. You think Rockies fans might be a little pumped if Nolan Arenado turns on a Felix Hernandez fastball and puts it in the seats? Or if DJ LeMahieu makes one of his sparkling defensive plays to save a run and keep the game tied? That's fun stuff.
Since that silly tie game in 2002, nine of 12 All-Star Games have been decided by three runs or fewer, with five one-run games. It's not hard too enjoy games like that.
I probably won't argue with you when you bring up a lot of the issues surrounding the All-Star Game, but try to put all that aside when the actual game starts.
Because the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is awesome.
Enjoy the festivities tonight, friends.
Now we proceed to the weekly departments...
I'll go with CarGo here because he had himself a great week. I absolutely love watching this guy hit when he's locked in like this. Also, I just love his giggly reaction to this ice water shower.
That look on his face cracks me up. Stout's little wiggle backwards is pretty great too.
Also studly: The Rockies' grounds crew for dealing with crap like this every damn game. AHHHHH!
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