It used to be, sometime many years ago, baseball’s All-Star Game actually meant something.
The winning and losing I mean; players really played, really cared about beating the other league. It was a true rivalry.
Ask Pete Rose, or Ray Fosse.
Pitchers actually pitched more than an inning. Starters played sometimes the entire game, and if not played the majority of the game.
Really, it’s true. You could look it up.
In 1967, the game went 15 innings, and the American league used only five pitchers, none of which walked a batter. Imagine that happening in the 2009 All-Star Game?
It was just seven years ago that Joe Torre and Bob Brenly ran out of pitchers after just 11 innings, forcing the game to end in an embarrassing tie.
There are 13 pitchers on each roster this year, while in 1967, the AL had eight and the NL had seven. Catfish Hunter took the loss for the AL that year, when Tony Perez homered in the 11th. Hunter pitched five innings. The AL actually had three pitchers it did not use.
In 1965 Mays, Aaron, Torre, Banks, and Rose played the entire game for the National League. This went on for years.
Think there will bea player who plays the entire game this year?
No way, although I will tell you that with the game being played in St Louis there should be one, Albert Pujols. The problem? There are four first baseman on the roster. Yes, four. Along with Pujols you have Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Howard, and Prince Fielder.
The American league also has four after Joe Madden decided to add his own Carlos Perez to replace Dustin Pedroia instead of another second baseman, Ian Kinsler whom many thought should have been the choice to start anyway.
The roster size was changed this year to 33 players per side. I bet the managers were not too happy with that. After all, it’s another player that they, as managers are obligated to get in the game.
Many players have All-Star bonuses attached to their contracts. Yes, Alex we will pay you $25 million to play and oh by the way if you are selected to the All-Star team, you get a bonus!
Of course it's difficult to compare different era’s, and I used the 60’s games randomly.
There are many reasons why the game has changed, many of those having to do with money. Do you want your multi-million dollar star hurt playing a full game? Do you want your All-Star pitcher throwing more than an inning or two?
The players themselves have so much more movement these days with the leagues watered down to 30 teams, with free agency, as well as interleague play that the difference between the leagues is minimal. The rivalry is non-existent.
The highlight of the All-Star game isn’t even the game itself anymore; it’s arguably the Home Run Derby the night before, a true example of an exhibition, and although it drags on too long, it’s fun to watch.
Making the winner of the All-Star game getting home field advantage in the World Series has done little to change the game itself.
Maybe those players on teams that are leading or challenging for their respective divisions pay a little more attention, but it certainly has not changed the way managers manage the game. Rarely is the case when a player does not make an appearance.
Is it all so bad? Maybe it's only to those of us who where around to see the game the way it was.