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Sports Medley: Time to End All Star Games 20 February 2017

by Tony Medley

When Chicago Tribune Sports Editor Arch Ward sponsored the first All Star Game in Chicago in 1933, the game had a legitimate purpose of determining who would win a game between the best players in the National League and he best players in the American League. Here are the comments of two publications at that time:

The ensuing game promises to be an even greater attraction than the World Series, as it provides, for the first time, a test of the best talent in each major league. ó Sporting News

It offers them (the fans) the fairest test of strength between the two great leagues, and at the same time assembles, at one contest, the best individual players on the diamond. Such a contest is a headliner of headliners, the realization of a baseball fanaticís dream. ó F.C. Lane, writer and editor of Baseball Magazine

In that game, the starting lineups played pretty much the entire game. Pepper Martin, Frankie Frisch, Chuck Klein, Chick Hafey, Bill Terry, and Wally Berger all had 4 at bats for the NL. Ben Chapman, Charlie Gehringer, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Dykes, Joe Cronin and Rick Ferrell all had four at bats for the AL. The game lasted 2:07. Only 25 players saw action excluding pitchers.

The game stayed a legitimate game for several decades before it descended into the travesty it is today, where starters only play few innings and every player can expect to see some action during the course of a game that in 2016 lasted 3:07 and saw 41 players play excluding pitchers.

But baseballís All Star game, sham that it is, still stands in stark contrast to the debacles put on by the NFL and the NBA.

We can actually pretty much forget about the NFLís Pro Bowl because everyone knows nobody plays to win and itís not even as competitive as a flag football game. Football, played seriously, is an extremely dangerous sport and nobody in his right mind is going to put his body on the line for a meaningless game that isnít even entertaining.

That leads us to the NBAís All Star Game. This is a game that could be seriously played and could have some meaning. But the fiasco that the league foisted on the public last Sunday was an insult to the game of basketball. A score of 192-182? To call it absurd would be damning with faint praise.  Nobody made any pretense of playing defense or of having any care about winning or losing. It was just a boring, idiotic display of shooting and dunking without any opposition. Neither of these farcical affairs has the remotest connection to sport or competition.

I know a lot of people who love sports, but I donít know one who watches the Pro Bowl or the NBA All Star Game. Itís time to deep six these disgraceful exhibitions, and itís time to put the baseball All Star game back to what it was and should be, a game between the best of the AL and the best of the NL to see who wins, and get rid of the rules that every team must be represented and everyone on the roster gets to make an appearance in the game. The way it is now doesnít even come close to satisfying the expectations of Arch Ward, The Sporting News, and Baseball Digest.