How to Fix the Baseball All-Star Game
It’s Thursday, July 14, and the Major League Baseball home run contest is still going on.
Watching that tedious, overdone exercise with the mindless and annoying prater of Chris Berman, I may as well watch The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on a loop. I haven’t seen anything take that long to complete since they elected the last pope and it turned out to be a guy from Germany.
Enough already with the three-and-a-half-hour home run contests. Change the format.
Here we go: five member teams, each of the players see 20 pitches, you’re allowed to take no more than five pitches (which puts the pressure on the batting practice pitcher to throw strikes, which is the way it should be; after all, that’s all they do in regular batting practice anyway), and the score is based on a point system. A home run counts for 10 points, a ball in the gap five points, and a single one point. Why don’t they ask me for my advice?
Now, as far as the broadcast is concerned, Berman can stay on the set, but he’d have to have a large piece of duct tape strapped across his mouth. Why can’t broadcasters re-invent themselves? Does he really think the “Back, Back, Back!” schtick works anymore? It’s so tired. And then, every home run that is hit, no matter where it is hit, has to be broadcast with this phone over-the-top exclamation? We’re not stupid. A 500-foot home run deserves the exclamation. Anything short of that is just another BP homer. Ugh.
Major League Baseball players have finally gotten the memo from football players who make the Pro Bowl. Just blow it off. Invent fake injuries. Tell the executives that you are “mentally and physically exhausted” from your pursuit of 3,000 hits. Who cares about the fans, that they’re the ones who took the time to worship you and punch out those little computer cards at the ballpark.
And it’s only going to happen more.
This is one of those circumstances in sports that you can’t change — like cheating in college sports. The only thing professional players respond to is if you take money, big money, out of their pockets. In other words, in the standard players contract, it would have to be written that if you blow off a selection to the all-star game, you will be fined $200,000. Now that would get their attention, no matter how much cheese they make. But you could never do that. The Players Association would never agree to such a clause. And even if they did, how are you going to prove that a guy isn’t hurt? Is MLB going to call in their own doctor to dispel the claimed injury? That would really cultivate team harmony, eh? And suppose the guy really IS hurt. Remember way back in the day when Andrew Toney kept claiming his feet hurt and the Sixers’ doctors said there was nothing wrong with him and it turned out he really was hurt? Now take that to the present day. The MLB doctors say that David Price (the pitcher from the Tampa Rays who bailed out of the game saying he was injured) isn’t really injured. And he pitches in the all-star game and exacerbates the condition. And he’s lost to the Rays for the season and prevents them from making the playoffs. See what I mean?
Unfortunately, the players have all the control in this little all star thing and there’s nothing we can do about it.
There is no question in my mind that Derek Jeter bailed out of the game because of his high maintenance girlfriend. I’m only guessing here — but my guesses when it comes to high-maintenance women are pretty solid — and I’m thinking Minka Kelly said something like this: “Aw Derek, do you have to go to that stupid all-star game? I rented us a private villa for three days on Tortola! I’ll bet ya that A-Rod would go with me.”
And Jeter, in his head, much like the classic battle in that Seinfeld episode between the penis and the brain, realized he’d rather be diving in satin sheets on a Carribbean than in infield dirt in Arizona.
But since Jeter is probably going to be guilted by public pressure to finance the college education of any child produced by Christian Lopez, the man who caught the home run that was Jeter’s 3,000th hit, that little romp with Minka is going to turn out to be the most expensive three-day vacation he ever took.