The MLB All-Star Game

The MLB All-Star game will happen tomorrow night.  Anyone who has been reading these rants for any period of time knows that I believe that each and every All-Star Game in each and every major sport in the US should have been cancelled retroactively for about the last 10 years.  Nothing in recent history has managed to change my mind.

The baseball All-Star Game is the best of the lot by a long shot, but it is not nearly what it used to be.  I believe the instrument of the MLB All-Star Game’s demise was the introduction and then the expansion of interleague play which began in the 1997 season.  Prior to 1997, the only time a team from the American League would play a team in the National League would be:

  • Spring Training – – so what?
  • In-season exhibition games – – even bigger “so what”?
  • World Series – – Big Deal Indeed!!!

In that scheduling regimen, one could look forward to the “best AL players” taking on the “best NL players” as a one-off major event in the All-Star Game in the middle of the season.  After all, lots of the “best players” on both teams would not be in the World Series so the All-Star Game was likely to be the only chance to see if Sandy Koufax could strike out Mickey Mantle.  Fans really looked forward to the game so much so that for a brief period around 1960, they played two All-Star games per year – – one in early July and the other at the end of July.

Fans set aside time to watch All-Star games in the past.  TV audiences for MLB All-Star Games peaked at around 16M viewers 25-30 years ago.  To give you an idea as to how the luster has come off this product, the game tomorrow will certainly not attract an audience of half that size and may struggle to have an audience a third of that size.  I am convinced that the primary reason is that fans can now see how AL players compete with NL players simply by paying attention to the normal MLB schedule as it unfolds.

I said above that the MLB All-Star Game is much better than the spectacles put on by the NFL, NBA and NHL and the reason I say that is that the MLB All-Star Game resembles very closely a real MLB game that would count in the standings.  The other three “All-Star Games” are glorified skills competitions with no defense being played.

  • In the last three NBA All-Star games, the total number of points scored in the game was 312 points or more.  [Aside: In the 2019 game, the final score was 178-164.]
  • In the Pro-Bowl snippets I have seen over the past several years, I do not recall a single hard tackle by a defender, and I have never seen nearly as many pass catchers run out of bounds in a regular season or playoff game.
  • In the NHL All-Star games, scores of 17-12 have happened.  I am nowhere near being a “hockey guru”, but I am confident that it would take quite a while for someone to find a regular season or playoff game where 29 goals were scored.

It seems that there is a parallel between the MLB All-Star Game and the NBA All-Star Game.  Both have lost some of their attractiveness in recent times so each sport tried to put together a companion attraction to spark interest.  MLB added the Home-Run Derby, and the NBA added the Three-Point Shooting Contest.  Maybe those “experiments” worked too well because my sense is that lots of fans are far more attracted to those “companion attractions” than they are to the All-Star Games themselves.

Moving on …  The MLB regular season is a little more than half over, so I want to take a moment here to summarize the status of players who have spent time on the Injured List this year and how much time has been lost to injury – – and how much the injured players have earned while not being able to play.  The good folks at provide the raw data here.

  • As of this morning, 557 players have spent a total of 23,433 days on the Injured List and those players have earned a total of $446,987,434 while on the Injured List.
  • Stephen Strasburg has earned the most money while on the Injured List.  He has been on the list for 101 days and has earned $19,145,996 while there.
  • Four players have earned $10M or more while on the Injured List.
  • One hundred and twenty-three different players have earned more than $1M while on the Injured List.
  • Fifty-seven players have been in the Injured List for the entirety of the season starting back on 4 April.
  • Six players have been on the Injured List three times during the 2022 season.
  • One player – – Mike Moustakas (Reds) – – has been on the Injured List 4 times during the 2022 season.  He is currently on the 10-day Injured List.
  • The Dodgers have had the greatest number of players put on the Injured List so far in 2022; they have put 36 different players on that list.
  • Four other teams – Cubs, Pirates, Reds and Twins – have had 25 players or more on the Injured List at some point in the 2022 season.
  • The Orioles have put the fewest number of players on the Injured List so far in 2022; they have only put 11 players there.
  • Two other teams – Braves and Blue Jays – have been similarly “uninjured” so far in 2022; they have  each put only 12 players on the Injured List.

Finally, since today has been about baseball, let me finish with this Item from Dwight Perry’s column last weekend in the Seattle Times:

“This regional qualifying score just in from Japan’s 104th National High School Baseball Championship: Chiba Gakugei 82, Wasegaku 0.

“Chiba Gakugei scored 32 in the first and 33 in the second and, all told, hit 17 homers before the 10-run ‘mercy’ rule kicked in the fifth.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



5 thoughts on “The MLB All-Star Game”

  1. Agree 1000% re: All Star games… And specific to baseball, to me the only thing worth watching is the HR contest.
    Would have thought you’d offer some comment on the MLB draft. MLB is trying so hard to make the Draft an event. The NFL has certainly capitalized on that (I actually watch the NFL draft).

    1. Chris:

      The NFL Draft can be a “thing” because lots and lots of the players who are taken were college football “stars” that are known to some degree by a wide circle of fans. Such is not the case in MLB – – and in may nears also not in the NBA if they are drafting players from overseas leagues that most Americans could not find on a map.

  2. It’s been 52 years since Pete Rose barreled over Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star game.

    1. TenaciousP:

      You will not see a play of that intensity in this year’s game. AS Rose said after the fact, “That was the winning run; I had to score. And if I had not dumped Fosse, you would never know who is is.”

  3. NHL – highest scoring game ever was 12-9 in 1985. Funny thing – it was Gretzky’s Oilers, and he didn’t get a goal! (7 assists did not stink) Record for one team is 16, in 1920 – so long ago the NHL had to beat challengers for other leagues for the Stanley Cup (yes, a non-NHL team won after this in 1925, basically the equivalent of a baseball PCL team in the 1930s playing in the world series)

    You are right about the All star game. I do not recall Koufax, but when else could you see Seaver take on Yaz, or Aaron against Palmer? The World Series? Atlanta only reached the postseason once in Hank’s career, and the Mets swept them in the 1969 NLCS. An Ernie Banks, Hall of Famer, who never saw an AL pitcher in a game that counted, because he played for the Cubs.

    (Aaron likely faced Palmer when Hank was in his 40s and with the Brewers. Not a fair comparison. Yaz’s 2 postseason years were 1967, Seaver’s rookie year, when he was good (Rookie of the year) but the Mets were not there yet, and 1975, when Tom won the Cy Young, but that was the heyday of the Big Red Machine. )

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