Latest posts by Ben Wilson (see all)
- 2017 MLB Season Preview - April 1, 2017
- It’s Time To End All Professional All-Star Games For Once - May 3, 2016
- NFL Draft 2016: Way Too Early Reaction to Round 1 - April 29, 2016
At long last we should end ALL of the professional sports All Star games. Once a highlight of their respective sports, they have come to a point where they are all rather pointless.
I wanted to get a few of my thoughts out. I, am in no way, an expert on the revenue, television ratings or business benefits that they mean to each league. And frankly, I don’t care. My opinions come from that of an avid fan of the NBA, NFL and MLB. I won’t comment on the NHL All-Star game since I don’t follow the sport and I don’t know the validity of their All Star weekend, but from what I’ve heard, it isn’t much better than that of the NBA.
These games use to be amazing. From Pete Rose bowling over Ray Fosse (1970), to Willie Mays’ response to how the NL could beat the AL (In the 1950’s); “What should our lineup order be”; Mays replied “Bat Roberto (Clemente) first, me 2nd and Hank (Aaron) 3rd. After that it doesn’t matter”!… From Carl Hubbell striking out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in order (1934), to Michael Jordan vs Dominique Wilkins for the slam dunk title.
These games and special skill competitions used to mean something. Pride was at stake. History was on the line. Bragging rights, me vs. you, who will steal the spotlight(?), anything you can do, I can do better! It was all there for the world to see. It was the ultimate show on the world’s greatest stage. 24 All-Stars, 50 All-Stars and 100 Pro Bowlers. Basically, the best vs. the best.
Now it is just something to fill out the league schedule. It’s nothing more than a ratings grab, revenue ploy, and a gigantic midseason party for the game’s best talent (with the exception of the NFL Pro Bowl, which is played in between the Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl).
Major League Baseball:
Baseball has the most watchable All-Star game in my opinion. It, by no means, is perfect. The Home Run (HR) Derby has become a very long commercial for Geico and other sponsors. It is very drawn out and usually filled with middling stars. The best HR hitters make occasional appearances, which is nice. However, I don’t need to spend three hours watching a glorified batting practice.
Some star players would prefer to have a midseason 3-day vacation, rather than participate in the All Star break. I can’t blame them, as it’s a long season with players reporting for spring training as early as mid-February. Their season won’t wind down until at least October (unless they qualify for postseason play). I think I would prefer a mini vacation with my wife and kids too!
Since the game takes place in midseason, pitchers and their pitching schedule(s) play a big factor in who can be used and for how many innings. Having an All Star game in midseason complicates a lot of issues, for both the All Star team managers, as well as their respective teams. Not to mention the voting process which is a separate blog topic in and of itself. I love having sub-par aging veterans voted in on their resumes alone. Cal Ripken anyone? Or injured stars who haven’t played a single game all year voted in as a starter. Ken Griffey Jr. anyone?!
National Basketball Association:
I love watching 400 points of NBA action in 48 minutes. I love watching games with no defense. A game where 3-pointers rain down more than Adam “Pacman” Jones’ one dollar bills at a “skrip” club. The game itself is actually not that bad. It’s the All-Star Weekend festivities.
I can live with a skills competition. It’s a fun watch if you have a half hour to kill. I can live with the 3-point shooting competition. It’s also a fun watch, especially if you have a favorite player in the shootout. However the dunk contest has got to go.
For one, no stars want to compete. Is it the fear of being embarrassed? Injured? Long gone are the days of Dr J., Jordan, Wilkins… And even Spud Webb! Now we are stuck watching Gerald Green, Terrence Ross and James White. What’s a James White??? All the while, on the sidelines, sits Blake Griffin, LeBron James and plenty of other note-worthy, high-flying talents. There the talent sits, shoulder bumping LeBron James, while Kevin Durant wraps his arms around Chris Paul in excitement. James Harden stands next to Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony, all wearing blazers and stylish sun glasses, or whatever their choice of “fashion” is this week. But, it’s cool. Zach Lavine won the slam dunk title. Most slam dunk entrants won’t be in the league within three years. Congratulations latest slam dunk winner, you are the current version of Jeremy Evans (2012 winner)! Even Fred Jones dislikes the players that are asked to compete in the contest! (Note: Jones won the 2004 slam dunk contest. Don’t worry if you don’t remember him. I had to look him up too!)
National Football League:
By far the worst of the three All-Star games. Why? I wouldn’t know. I’ve never watched one. I don’t like my NFL football with a touch of Arena Football League. I don’t need to watch a 63-56 football game. I don’t need to see players playing for a $25k check to pay for their weekend trip to Hawaii for themselves and 18 of their closest family and friends.
The Pro Bowl players are announced on a Thursday. By Friday, half of them have politely declined due to… Um… An unforeseen injury. Or my grandpa will be having a funeral that weekend! Here comes the substitutions. Yes, rookie Jameis Winston is an appropriate replacement for Tom Brady. Come on down Jaquizz Rodgers, Adrian Peterson has a prior engagement. You need look no further than this list to see how many players were replaced for the 2016 NFL Pro Bowl (Note: I did the math. 113 players were selected initially. 64 players were named as replacements. 14 of the 64 were players from the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, who couldn’t play due to the timing of the game. That’s 57% of the original roster that was “replaced”, due to being injury or being unavailable).
The NFL got the bright idea to move the Pro Bowl from the week following the Super Bowl to the “dead” week in between the Conference Championship and the one with the 38 minute half time show. Oh boy! Now I will watch! Sorry, Super Bowl players, You can’t play in the game, even if you had wanted to. Now next year, I will hear all about how many Pro Bowl appearances a player has made. Really? He was the 8th best QB in his conference last year. But he was a “Pro Bowler” because the first seven “called in sick”.
In closing, I wish all of the leagues would do away with their respective games. However, they won’t and that’s okay. I am just one person with an opinion. Announce the players who were the “best” that year. Give them recognition for that. Maybe even a bonus of some kind. Just please save the fans from the crap that ensues when you try to play a “real” game with these athletes who don’t seem to care about the end result. As a fan, it’s hard to swallow a roster of “all-stars”, who are either being elected because of their name recognition, or based on two months of statistics.
“And Pete Rose rounds third… Fosse has the plate blocked… The ball hits his glove… The collision… BOOM!…Fosse flies backwards”…
Gone are those days…
(Note: Originally posted on my private blog https://ourtradingcards.wordpress.com/, on February 17, 2013. Edited and posted on www.the3pointconversion.com May 3, 2016)