Let’s face it. The general idea of an All-Star game in pro sports is pointless.
The recognition is great for each individual athlete. The corresponding bonus they receive is a welcomed addition to their pocketbooks as well. But do we really need to play a meaningless game to showcase the talents we see night in and night out?
No. Especially not when that game looks nothing like the everyday product.
The Pro Bowl is a glorified flag football game. Nobody tries. It’s a joke. Frankly, it’s more enjoyable watching the goofy skills competitions the day before more than the game itself.
The NBA All-Star Game is basically a 5-on-5 version of what we see on Saturday night. Dunks, 3-pointers, trick passes and a bunch of stars who don’t actually care about playing basketball. The feature of the entire weekend is clearly not the Sunday evening matchup.
The NHL plays a 3-on-3 tournament for their All-Star event. It’s a fun concept and provides an entertaining change of pace, but it’s still more about the show than anything else.
There’s only one All-Star game that has any semblance of meaning, and it’s happening tonight at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
For all the flak Major League Baseball gets for being behind the times, one thing the league does 100 percent right is the annual Midsummer Classic. The timing of the game, the combination of importance and fun, the inevitable late-inning drama and the collection of unsung heroes combine to create a thoroughly enjoyable experience year in and year out.
For whatever reason, it just feels right.
The Home Run Derby (even though the format seems to change every year and the best home run hitters aren’t always able to take part) adds to the experience. It’s a fun appetizer to the All-Star Game’s main course. The players are all in, the fans get their memorable moments and each moneyball is tied directly to charity.
Most importantly, the MLB All-Star game provides a product that stands out against the monotony of a 162-game regular season. I distinctly remember bits and pieces of All-Stars games spanning back more than a decade. Michael Young’s two-out, two-RBI ninth-inning triple off Trevor Hoffman to win the game in 2006. Ichiro’s go-ahead inside-the-park home run in 2007. Derek Jeter’s impressive performance in his final All-Star appearance in 2014. The wild final three innings of this past year’s game, which included 10 runs on six homers, culminating in back-to-back jacks by Alex Bregman and George Springer to win the game for the American League.
To be completely honest, I’m not sure I could recall one specific play or performance that stands out from any one of the other three league’s All-Star products. And yes, I’ve watched them all.
In the end, it all comes back to the fact that baseball has the only All-Star Game that makes an impact. Witnessing the best baseball has to offer is definitely an event worth stopping down and watching.