I think the general consensus was that the All-Star game last night was fairly entertaining with a close 4-3 victory by the American League. However, I thought it was terrible because it was not real baseball. Here are my biggest issues.
Fans of teams like the Yankees with dominant closers like Mariano Rivera love it when they hear their closers theme song come on and watch them trot out to slam the door on an opponent in the ninth inning. Let’s just say Jonothan Papelbon loses some of his aura when he enters the game in the seventh inning. It was also pretty boring to watch a game you know was over after six innings. Sure it was still a tie game but the AL essentially had 9 automatic outs to play with thanks to Papelbon, Joe Nathan, and Rivera, the three best closers in the game. It is not very fun to watch a game where each team has multiple pitchers in the bullpen who are essentially guaranteed to throw a scoreless frame. Part of the beauty of baseball is that anyone can beat anyone on any giving day, and the lead can change each and every inning.
This was easily the thing I enjoyed least about the game. Players were not working the count like they would in a real game, but instead swinging at the first pitch they saw. This happened for two reasons. First of all, the pitchers are so dominant that if you fell behind in the count, you were pretty much toast. The second is that especially for the reserves, you may only get one at-bat. If you are going up there knowing you might only have one shot at glory, are you going to try and draw a walk? I do not think so.
This led to some ridiculous pitch counts. All of the following pitchers threw one inning:
Mark Buehrle – Nine pitches
Zack Greinke – Ten Pitches
Edwin Jackson – FOUR pitches
Felix Hernandez – Eight pitches
Jonothan Papelbon – Ten pitches
Trevor Hoffman – Five pitches
Francisco Cordero – Nine pitches
Ryan Franklin – Nine pitches
Francisco Rodriguez – Six pitches
That is half of the game in seventy pitches. Absolutely ridiculous.
The Bengie Molina Effect
This may be an obscure reference, but some of you may know that Molina is dead last in the majors with a BB% of 1%. He would have fit right in; there was only one unintentional base on balls in the entire game! I could not find any proof, but I doubt there was a single game in the majors this year that featured one walk. Once again, this is not real baseball.
When I watch a baseball game I want to see Ty Cobb going into second with his spikes up and Pete Rose trucking Ray Fosse at the plate. In the All-Star game you’re lucky to see a guy hustle out a ground ball, let alone try to take an extra base. Carl Crawford had an opportunity to stretch for a double but settled for a single. Ichiro tried to “break-up” a double play with about the same gusto as my grandma would have. In the regular season you see Adam Wainwright taking a throw off his pitching hand to break up a double play. In the All-Star game, not so much.
I do not think I have to go into much detail here. Thirty-three players and a billion dominant pitchers; not real baseball.
Fan Voting And The Every Team Must Be Represented Rule
Fan voting has been discussed at length before, but guys like Josh Hamilton and Dustin Pedroia did not deserve to be voted in as starters, and how did 33rd man Shane Victorino get to start?
The representation rule also led to “All-Stars” like Andrew Bailey and Zach Duke. Barry Petchesky from Deadspin ran a simulation, and the NL All-Stars lost to the New York Yankees. The All-Stars also had a lower average salary than this collection All-Stars.
The Player’s Do Not Take It Seriously, At First.
The players could care less about the outcome for the first half of the game. If you look at the dugout there are hardly any guys up on the railing watching the game intently. The game only gets serious if it is close in the finals innings. In a real baseball game you have to be committed from the beginning or it will be chalked up as a loss every time.
I am sure if I thought for longer I could come up with some more reasons but there are seven for your consideration.