|Wednesday, July 14, 1999||
Volume 64, Issue 156
||More memories made during all-star break at Boston's historical Fenway
By Anna Sivadasan
It's that time of year again.
Basketball has just ended and football is still a couple of weeks away from getting started.
Maybe that's why the Midsummer Classic in major league baseball can capture sports fan's attention.
Unlike NBA, NHL or NFL games, the baseball All-Star Game is actually worth tuning into. The fact that baseball has center stage to itself in July makes the Midsummer Classic the premier all-star game.
Although it's a team sport, baseball features individual matchups that can be showcased in its all-star game. All-star games feature the best of the best.
A 98 mph fastball from Boston Red Sox ace pitcher Pedro Martinez to home-run king Mark McGwire is what the fans want and get to see. But the game itself is not changed or compromised when we watch a Martinez/McGwire matchup.
However, when the NBA gathers for its annual game, team basketball and defense are left at home. The major league All-Star Game is the only event where the sport is being played just like it is during the season.
The NBA all-stars play no defense, and the Pro Bowl in the NFL is not even comparable. You know it doesn't mean anything when the sport's all-star game takes place after the season ends and players are coming up with ankle injuries and bad backs to avoid playing in it.
Baseball is also the only sport where the dimensions of the ballpark can affect the game. Tuesday's Classic at Boston's venerable Fenway Park is a prime example.
"The Green Monster" in left field was talked about as much as Ken Griffey Jr., Sosa or McGwire. It's as if the great hitters are facing Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and "The Green Monster" in left.
Sosa jokingly commented that he would have hit 72 homers if he played for the Boston Red Sox with half the games being played at Fenway. Also, Griffey Jr. said that this year's All-Star Game, the 10th of his career, will be memorable because it takes place at Fenway Park.
But even with all the positives from this year's All-Star Game, there is a negative aspect thanks to Texas' Juan Gonzalez. The Rangers outfielder, despite batting .314 with 24 homers and 79 RBIs, was not one of the participants in the 1999 game.
Gonzalez decided not to play because the fans didn't vote him into the starting lineup over Griffey Jr., Manny Ramirez and Kenny Lofton. But what the Rangers star apparently doesn't realize is that the game belongs to the fans. They have the right to pick who they want to see.
Besides, as long as Griffey remains in the AL, he will always get voted in. And with the year that Cleveland's Ramirez has had, he should be starting the game.
Fortunately, Gonzalez's boycott didn't take the spotlight away from the game itself. And his no-show allowed deserving first-time all-stars like Toronto's Shawn Green and Baltimore's B.J. Surhoff to make the roster.
So in the end, the Midsummer Classic and the fans win out.
After all, that's how it should be.
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