The best argument for the superiority of the baseball’s All-Star Game was presented on Sunday night, nearly five months before the actual event and four days before the beginning of spring training.
That was the NBA’s All-Star Game. The NBA, NHL and NFL have their all-star games within a three week period, and though I’ve long since given up watching the Pro Bowl, I can assert with confidence that baseball’s All-Star Game most replicates the actual sport.
The Pro Bowl and NHL All-Star Game have changed their formats radically so that they don’t have any resemblance to their sport. So many NFL players declined the trip to Hawaii that Derek Carr and Tyrod Taylor were two of the six quarterbacks.
Of course, the NFL now plays it a week ahead of the Super Bowl eliminating the best players from the best teams.
In Dec. 1983, the Detroit Pistons beat the Denver Nuggets 186-184 in a triple overtime game, the most points ever scored in an NBA games.
Sunday night’s travesty featured the West scoring an unfathomable 196 points when it outscored the East’s 173.
The NBA is my second favorite sport, and I have long argued its superiority over college basketball. I’ve insisted to people that the defense played in the NBA is intense, and it’s just that the offense is so good.
Last night, the defense wasn’t there. It was as if we had a July All-Star Game where the American League beat the National League 32-29.
Do you think that would be much fun?
Only six times in 86 All-Star Games has a team scored more 10 or more runs, and despite the offensive explosion in the late 90’s and early this decade, never have more than 13 runs been scored.
Fortunately for fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers, home court advantage for the NBA Finals wasn’t at stake.
There are plenty of things I’d like to see fixed in baseball’s All-Star Game. Perhaps try the World vs. U.S. in a game. Maybe during World Baseball Classic years play the semifinal and final in lieu of the All-Star Game.
I’d like to return to a time when starting pitchers actually went three innings so that Clayton Kershaw could face every American League starter, and with 15 teams, we don’t need 33 players on a roster. It seems silly to insist that every team have a representative.
In the All-Star Game, pitchers try to get batters out, and fielders try to make excellent plays. One of the most memorable of all All-Star Game plays was Pete Rose bowling over Ray Fosse in the 1970 game.
That might not happen today, but it was an indication that the players cared.
These days, many players leave the dugout and the stadium before the end of the game, and the postgame handshake line isn’t very long.
MLB has changed with the times just like the NBA. The Home Run hitting contest is baseball’s version of the Slam Dunk show, and last year it was tightened up and improved.
But once the game comes, defense usually dominates. The two leagues haven’t combined to score more than 10 runs since 2005.
And, there are the Kobe Bryant-like farewells. Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter were greeted warmly by the fans and their peers in 2013 and 2014.
I’m not forgetting the 2001 debacle when the managers ran out of pitchers after 11 innings. If pitchers threw multiple innings, that wouldn’t happen.
In 2008, the game lasted 15 innings and six pitchers threw multiple innings. That worked out.
When there were league presidents, they often gave pep talks to their teams, telling them that the game mattered—and that was years before home field advantage was at stake.
A year from now, NBA commissioner Adam Silver might encourage some defense. Dunks and 3-point shots are great, but not constantly.
The All-Star Game has lots of intrigue. For weeks prior to the team’s announcement, fans vote and try to devise their own team. That’s much better than the NBA version where you know that LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook will make up four of the 24 spots.
Mike Trout is now a certainty to play in the game, but can you say with confidence that Andrew McCutchen and Josh Donaldson are sure things to be voted in?
Next February, I’m sure I’ll watch the NBA All-Star Game as spring training prepares to start, and I’ll hope it can be more like baseball’s.