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Volume 71, Issue 149, Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Sports

All-Star "break"? Not likely

Duke of Orleans

Ben Gegenheimer 

Aside from the playoffs and the World Series, the All-Star break is arguably the most exciting time of the MLB season. Each July, a Major League city is chosen to host unique festivities such as the MLB Futures Game, Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game, featuring the most talented players in professional baseball.

The All-Star Game has been and always will be a fan favorite. The original purpose of the game was to treat the fans of Major League Baseball to a relaxed, fun and festive event each summer. 

However, over the past couple of years, the All-Star Game has only seemed to highlight how ridiculously corrupt and stupid Major League Baseball is, especially Commissioner Bud Selig.

Selig only worsened his image at the 2002 All-Star contest when he called the game a 7-7 tie in the 11th inning. Despite the overwhelming dissatisfaction expressed by fans, I am willing to give Selig a pass on this decision for a few reasons.

First of all, both the American and National League teams were running short on pitchers to finish the game. Unlike football and basketball, in baseball, once a player is taken out of a game, he is not eligible to return. By the 11th inning, American manager Joe Torre and National manager Bob Brenly had pretty much run out of players. 

In addition, the All-Star break is just that: a break. It is an opportunity for players to catch some rest and have a few days off from the daily grind of the 162-game MLB season. 

Prior to the 2003 All-Star break, Selig proposed his ludicrous idea of avoiding extra innings in All-Star games, in which the winner of the game (either the American or National League) would determine home-field advantage in the World Series. 

I guess the logic behind Selig's idea is that the All-Star game is no longer simply an exhibition game. Now it has meaning. 

Therefore, players should be encouraged to play harder and put forth more effort in order to win the game in nine innings and gain home-field advantage in the World Series for their league, and quite possibly for their own team. 

Apparently, Selig wants the All-Star game to return to the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s when players desperately wanted to win, regardless of what was at stake. 

In the 1970 All-Star game, MLB legend Pete Rose bowled over American League catcher Ray Fosse at home plate to give the National League a dramatic 5-4 victory. He also damaged Fosse's left shoulder and hampered the young catcher's career in doing so.

Like Rose, many of those older All-Stars were more concerned with their pride than winning the contest. Haven't we seen the effects of prideful baseball players today? 

You see, today's no-nonsense All-Star Game has too much riding on it. The players know this, and therefore, they take the game more seriously than they did before. Fans are no longer treated to the pranks or laughs that were shared on the field during the game, such as the meeting between pitcher Randy Johnson and Larry Walker in the 1997 All-Star Game at Jacobs Field.

Walker, who boasted a MLB high batting average of .398, stepped into the left side of the batter's box. Johnson jokingly threw the first pitch five feet over Walker's head. In response, Walker turned his helmet backward and moved to the right side of the plate as he fought to hold back his laughter. He was eventually walked. 

Along with exciting baseball, fans love to see humor and realism. But it's not the fan's game anymore.

The All-Star game is supposed to be different. It should be relaxing and come easy, but now players have to be serious and look at every pitch as if it will decide the World Series. 

For those of you who like the idea, I think you are as bright as good ol' Bud. Do you wonder if this idea has had any effect on baseball?

Well, the American League has won the All-Star game all three times since the inception of the rule and the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox have swept the World Series the last two years after starting at home.

Any idea why Major League Baseball is engulfed in HGH, steroids and scandal right now?

It's because Bud Selig, along with his brilliant leadership and ideas, is running the show.

Play ball.

Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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