Beat Me In St. Louis: All-Star Game Is a Big Disappointment

Brian McDowellCorrespondent IJuly 16, 2009

ST LOUIS, MO - JULY 14:  U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Hall of Famer Stan Musial before throwing out the first pitch at the 2009 MLB All-Star Game at Busch Stadium on July 14, 2009 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The big deal All-Star week is over. This event was supposed to shine the spotlight on St. Louis and demonstrate to the rest of the country that this is the best baseball city in America. 

Fans of the Cardinals were repeatedly told that shelling out big money to host these festivities would raise the collective self-esteem of our struggling city in troubled times.

However, watching both the lackluster Home-Run Derby and the All-Star game, I don't think that this effort was successful.

The actual game got lower television ratings than last year's did. Despite the best efforts of Major League Baseball, both of these events were pretty sub-standard and generally lacking in memorable moments.

In large part, the heart of baseball at this moment is the best player of his generation, Albert Pujols. However, in both the derby and the game, playing in his home stadium in front of his large and rabid fan-base, he provided very few of his usual brand of baseball thrills.

He got very much overshadowed by his fellow first baseman and division rival, Prince Fielder, in the Home Run Derby.

Then, Pujols further disappointed local fans by going 0-for-3 and making a key error in the actual game.

Ordinarily, I love to watch "El Hombre" play, and I know that it is foolish to expect perfection from a human being. However, this was a high-profile event dedicated to Pujols's greatness, and, all things considered, with the bright spotlight upon him, he did not perform too well.

To me, such results can not, in any way, be considered a success.

The pregame of the All-Star game proved to be an over-hyped disappointment. The insipid "All Stars Among Us" program was a sappy bore.

People Magazine sponsored this snooze-fest, which was no surprise, since we all know that it is a glorified tabloid that is only read by semi-literate housewives. The further away that such publications stay away from baseball, the better we will all be.
Don't get me wrong. Having all of the living US Presidents in one film might be an impressive feat.  However, it really didn't add anything to the enjoyment of a game that is popular because it distracts us from the problems we experience in our day-to-day lives. 

Furthermore, these pointless proceedings were somewhat cheapened by the fact that, despite thirty supposedly great citizens being honored on the field, only five of them got their accomplishments mentioned on television.

It would probably have been quicker and less painful to show a quick close-up of each do-gooder, and have an announcer tell you what they did to earn their honor. That way, no one would be short-shifted, and at least, casual viewers would have some idea of what the hell these other 25 people were being congratulated for.

Stan Musial's brief appearance in the proceedings also proved to be a bit of a fiasco.

Musial is one of the greatest and most underrated hitters of all time. It's been a long-held theory of St. Louis fans that if he had played in a media center like New York or Boston, he would be put in his rightful place with Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Ted Williams on the baseball equivalent of Mount Rushmore.

However, since Musial's entire career was played with the Cardinals and before cable television made being a big star in the middle of the country possible, he always flew a bit under the radar.

In other words, Musial never quite got the credit that he deserves. His appearance in the All Star Game was seen by Cardinal Nation as a chance to correct this small historical injustice in front of a national audience of baseball fans, many of who, like me, are too young to have ever had the privilege of watching Musial play.

I expected, before his appearance, to see at least a video tribute which explained to America what a great player he was, and also that he was a philanthropist, a war hero and someone worthy of more admiration than he generally gets.

Instead, he didn't get much of a proper tribute at all. They just gave the 88-year-old left-handed slugger a short intro. They didn't show any video or explain who he was at all, and wheeled him out on a golf cart.

He did get to hand the ball to the President before the first pitch, but, watching it at home, I still couldn't help feeling that Stan got the shaft.

The heavily-hyped appearance of the President didn't impress me too much either.

I mean, as a patriotic American, I feel like if the commander-in-chief wants to go to an event, every effort should be made to accommodate him there. However, I do think that showing up to a game in St. Louis wearing the jacket of a Chicago team is probably not a good political move.

I also think if he is going to make public appearances like this, Obama could stand to work on his throwing technique a bit. It's rare that to see a pitch that awkward in Busch Stadium when Todd Wellemeyer isn't on the mound.

I must admit that, although I didn't vote for him and I think he's doing a less-than-stellar job in general, I did get a kick of seeing Obama in the broadcast booth during the second inning of the game.

It was nice to see a human side of our President, who actually seems to be a pretty knowledgeable sports fan.

As for the game itself, I thought it offered very few spectacular moments that will be remembered a month from now.

No home runs were hit. The American League won yet again.  Nothing really surprising or newsworthy happened. It was a close game, and a few good plays were made, but, to me, Carl Crawford's home-run stealing catch was the only play in this game that could qualify for any highlight reel.

Look, I don't mean to piss on anyone's parade. I am sure that all of the people that congregated in St. Louis for these festivities had a good time.

I hope local businesses made a ton of cash off of it. I'm just afraid that, despite all of the millions of dollars that were spent on it, this event won't be remembered very long by baseball fans.

All I'm saying is that this year's All Star Game was a bit of a wasted cause, and clearly did not do much to enhance St. Louis's poor general image.

Perhaps if the National League could have put together a comeback or if Pujols would have performed better, this game could have been truly classic and epic.

However, as it went down, it was thoroughly mediocre, and didn't end up meaning all that much.