Mike Miss: Why I Love the All-Star Game

Plus how Old City real estate influenced the Flyers trade agreements

I love everything about the Major League Baseball all-star game and if you don’t like it, you’re nothing but a curmudgeon.

In every other major sport, football, basketball and hockey, the skills competition is more entertaining than the game itself. Because in football, basketball and hockey, no one actually cares about stopping the other team in order to win the game.

But in baseball, it’s the ultimate mano-a-mano. The best pitchers in the game are trying to get the best hitters in the game out. How can you argue with that?

I grew up in the golden era of the baseball all-star game. I was a kid who loved the Oakland A’s because of Vida Blue and Reggie Jackson, who that year had about 30 home runs at the all-star break and who I had just found out was from the Philadelphia area. Because there were no Phillies in the game that year, I outwardly rooted for the American League. Blue gave up three runs in the first inning to the National League, prompting cackling phone calls from my buddies. And then in the bottom of the inning, Jackson launched a three-run homer over the friggin light tower at the old Tiger Stadium off of Dock Ellis of the Pirates, helping the AL take a 5-3 lead,  and I starting dialing the phone feverishly back to my friends.

It’s a moment I’ll never forget.

I know some baseball purists are ticked off by the way the team is picked—it’s often more of a popularity contest than an actual measure of achievement. And Derek Jeter isn’t worthy of the start this year but he was voted in anyway. But that’s just a tiny flaw. The fans got it right this year by giving the most votes to Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays. And what’s the big deal about seeing Jeter in the lineup one more time?

I have to rip Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee for his public stance of discouraging Roy Halladay as the starting pitcher for this year’s game. First of all, that’s disrespectful to the fans who expect to see the best be the starter for this game. Secondly Doobs, the league that wins this game gets home field advantage in the World Series. I don’t know if you’ve taken a look at your bench lately. If the Phillies don’t add another good hitter, they will be at more of a disadvantage playing four games without a decent DH than three, right?

Now, regarding the home run hitting contest, I think it was a great idea to pick two captains and have them choose their own sides. Guys are more likely to participate if one of their brethren asked them to. A nice little trick by the suits at MLB. The captains, David Ortiz for the American League, and Prince Fielder for the National League, were also allowed to ask players who weren’t already at the game. So why didn’t Fielder pick Ryan Howard? And if he picked Howard, did Howard have an obligation to go to the all-star weekend just for the home run contest? I say yes. Instead, Fielder bailed out and asked only guys who were going to be there. Ortiz, meanwhile, was turned down by Mark Teixeira, who merely has hit 25 home runs already this season. Come on Mark, who are you all of a sudden, Willie Mays?

Odds and Ends

1. I don’t normally play out my personal dilemmas in a public blog, but I’m going to do it this time. I got a traffic ticket the other day for “careless driving.” I was headed to do my radio show at the Aloft Airport Hotel, where my co-host for the first hour was Shane Victorino of the Phillies. Unfortunately for me, that day the Schuylkill Expressway was bogged down beginning at the Girard Street exit all the way down to where the road splits, heading west, at the Vine Street Expressway. As I approached the Vine, I made a quick veer left down the Vine (to use the alternative route of I-95 to get to the airport area), then shot from the right lane to the left lane in order to proceed in a swifter manner. I didn’t put on my turn signal before I made that move and I was wrong for not doing that. A Philadelphia police officer behind me flashed on his light and pulled me over.

The officer approached me on the passenger side window. I apologized right away and explained to him that I was trying to get to my radio show which began at 2 p.m. He snarled and said, “Well, you’re not going to make it!” He took my license and registration and proceeded, on purpose I believe, to sit in his police vehicle until it was 2 p.m. He then emerged with the ticket.

Maybe I deserved the ticket, maybe I didn’t. But why did the guy have to be a jerk-off? That’s not good policing, that’s just policing.

2. Why is it that whenever traffic is heaviest during the summer months, with people coming back and forth from the shore, are there always a ton of construction projects that slow traffic even more?

3. You don’t think the Old City nightlife worship of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter didn’t influence their trades? A little bird told me that another Flyer player, considering buying a condo in Old City, was threatened with a trade if he proceeded with that real estate transaction. The player bought in Jersey instead.

4. In a four-day weekend like the one we just had for the Fourth of July, there always seemed to be a beef between husband and wife regarding a round of golf. I saw a guy in a parking lot walking toward a snarling wife who snapped, “I thought you were going to be done at 1?!” Women don’t seem understand that a round of golf doesn’t have a predictable time length. There may be a lot of people on the course. They guys you play with may be hitting it all over the place, looking for their lost ball. Give the guys a break, ladies. It’s just one day.