MLB All-Star Game 2011: Everyone Needs to Relax About Derek Jeter's Absence

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MLB All-Star Game 2011: Everyone Needs to Relax About Derek Jeter's Absence

I love baseball history and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the All-Star Game.

Not only was the "Midsummer Classic" the first game of it's kind in any sport, but over the years there have been some iconic, memorable moments: Babe Ruth's home run in the 1933 edition, Carl Hubbel's strikeout barrage a year later, Ted Williams' homer at Briggs Stadium, Reggie Jackson's monstrous blast there three decades later, Tony Gwynn scoring the game-winning run in 1994, etc.

But the All-Star Game just doesn't matter anymore. And that's why no one should really be upset or angry or disappointed in Derek Jeter's decision to skip the festivities this week at Chase Field.

I could point to the larger, cultural reasons why the MLB All-Star Game is steaming towards NFL Pro Bowl-like irrelevancy.

First, since we have interleague play, ESPN, MLB TV and the Internet, fans in Cincinnati don't need the All-Star Game to see Yankees and Red Sox and Indians fans don't need to the All-Star Game to see stars from the Dodgers and Giants.

Furthermore, given the fact that, over the years, baseball has taken a backseat to the NFL and NBA in terms of cross-country appeal and popularity, it's no surprise that the All-Star Game has fallen so drastically on the sporting calendar.

And of course there is the devaluing of the term "All-Star."  So many players are selected, 84 in all (84!!!), that it really doesn't mean what it used to be named to the All-Star team.

But I think the main reason why the All-Star Game is irrelevant, is because we've been told—by Major League Baseball nonetheless—that the game is irrelevant. That's what Bud Selig and his office admitted when they decided to incentive-ize the game with home-field advantage in the World Series.

The moment MLB included home-field advantage to the outcome, they stepped back from behind the curtain and revealed the truth: the game doesn't mean anything. And no matter what type of incentive they try to attach to the outcome—winners' bonus, home-field advantage, league pride, which also went completely out the window once interleague play started in 1997—they can't get the toothpaste back in the tube.

The All-Star Game was always something of a beautiful lie: it was totally irrelevant, but the fans and the players and the media didn't really care. No longer do many fans (and superstars like Derek Jeter) believe it anymore.

And just because MLB tells us and Jeter (who they are reportedly "disappointed in") that the game is important doesn't mean it is.

Maybe, hopefully, some day it will be again.

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