Sunday, February 8, 2009

It's All Junk, People

One of the biggest enduring myths in sports, is that somehow MLB’s All-Star game is the “most realistic” of all the All Star games.

To quote Monty Burns: “Pish.. posh!”

Yeah, once upon a time Ray Fosse got his shoulder busted up by Pete Rose, and if I have to hear that old chestnut one more time I’m going to punch a small furry animal in the face.

(Side note: Please watch that highlight again, and notice how Rose stumbles coming home, making the collision all but unavoidable.)

Yeah, the MLB all-star game is now played “for something” so at least guys aren’t getting on lear-jets to go home by the 7th inning.

But otherwise, please. It’s really no better than the others. Pitchers in real games don’t go 2 innings and out, even if they are lights out. The best hitters in the game aren’t pulled after 2 AB’s so that somebody else can “get a turn.”

And we don’t really know how hard hitters are grinding at bats. We don’t know if pitchers are really at 100% throttle, or more like 90%. How often are guys situational hitting, versus just jacking and hacking?

Look, I’m not saying the Pro Bowl or the NBA and NHL All-Star games are any better. In fact, they are likely a little bit worse.

Little bit. Emphasis. LITTLE.

When people say “rank ‘em” I say “why bother?” None are real games. It’s like ranking the sexiest drive-thru attendants in your neighborhood. You wouldn’t sleep with any of them.

So for all the baby-boomer, seamhead baseball fanatics, pipe down. They are all just an excuse to have a big shrimp cocktail party the night before, and get paid something extra. Hopefully, without getting hurt.


Speaking of the Pro Bowl, I now believe it’s a mistake to move the game around. But we’ll see how it feels and plays next year in Miami. Already, Ray Lewis has said he has no plans on going even if he makes the team, because it’s “no vacation” like a week in Hawaii with your friends and family.

And you can multiply that feeling by about 100 when the Super Bowl rolls into Indy in three years. Hell, even the good folks there will tell you that.

And what’s so wrong with keeping the Pro Bowl as a glorified retreat/bonus weekend for the warriors we worship every Sunday during the fall? Don’t they deserve Hawaii? Won’t you miss the kitschy luau shirts and surfing shots coming out of commercial break?

Peyton Manning had a really interesting interview on the sideline between possessions. Andrea Kramer mentioned that Manning is called “the mayor” in Hawaii for his persistent visits. Manning joked that he was “recruiting” about 3 different guys: Haynesworth, Ware, and Marshall. He also said it was nice to get to meet some of his fellow pros and spend some time. He said because there were so many new guys, it validated the voting system (well, not exactly) as rewarding the guys who are having good seasons.

Manning in about 90 seconds convinced me that moving the game might just be wrong. Our gladiators deserve this week in paradise, and it’s cool to think of them sharing stories over coconut drinks at night. It’s their business convention. Let them enjoy it.

In fact, why not have a series of 1-hour televised award shows, or highlight shows during the week. Let the players get up on stage, and goof around with each other little bit. Let US get to know them too, outside of the constant death grip of the regular season and playoffs.

Think about it. Whenever we hear from players in the NFL, it’s either after a loss (when they are obligated to act like somebody in their family just died) or after a win (when they must grimly admonish everybody that there’s “more work to do.”)

The NFL might want to consider this. After all, not everybody in the league is a make-it-rain criminal in waiting. In fact, most are pretty normal, surprisingly smart, often very funny, everyday kind of guys.

That said. Good night, sweet football. Thank you. Thank you as always, for giving our lives such joy, and our week to week existence meaning. We’ll see you in August.


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