Hola amigos. I’m sure that many of you likely didn’t notice, given the excellent job that everyone did in filling in for me (from Drew’s writing to JonBen and Matt appearing on the Getting Blanked Show), but I was away last week, traversing the American states and getting caught up in romanticizing the land of the free and glorifying the home of the brave.

U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A! Sorry, it becomes engrained in you a little bit.

However, now that I’m back, I’d like to address something that was sticking in my craw before I left and has only become a bigger shit in my cut as the event draws closer: hatred for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

I get it, fellow punk rockers, we’re all pretty cool, and we don’t have time for (or we haven’t quite adopted enough ironic detachment to sardonically enjoy) something so gimmicky as a baseball game that, let’s be honest, is ultimately meaningless and generally lacking in competitiveness.

We’re better than that. It’s all so manufactured and unoriginal that it has the distinct odour of being inauthentic. If what makes baseball great is the showdown, the conflict between batter and hitter, that foundation of excellence is far too greatly diminished in a friendly setting in which outcomes mean little. The fact that the athletes participating in the game would most likely rather be doing something else somewhere else doesn’t make things all that more appealing either.

However, here’s the thing: the All-Star Game isn’t about you. It’s a marketing vehicle for the game of baseball, for the league, the brand, for everything that Bud Selig spends time and energy promoting. It’s explicitly for the benefit of those who don’t read baseball blogs, don’t understand fielding independent pitching numbers and certainly don’t think about the game’s next exploitable market inefficiency.

It’s for kids. It’s for casual fans. It’s for the equivalent of the zombies that move around exhibition halls in search of products they probably don’t need, but feel a desire to purchase anyway. If you read Getting Blanked regularly, the MLB All-Star Game probably isn’t for you. Now, get over it. Move on, and I guarantee your life will be a happier one.

I realized this as an eleven year old.

In 1991, the All-Star game was played in Toronto at the newly built SkyDome. My mother decided to schedule our family vacation for the very same week the game was to be played, and of course, instead of doing something half way decent, wherein I might be able to watch the game from a television, we went camping. And not the type of camping where there’s a tuck shop nearby and running water steps from a camp site, our family’s version of camping involved hoisting food up in a tree so that bears wouldn’t attack us in the middle of the night.

I hated this activity to begin with, and missing the baseball All-Star game made it all the more horrible. It made absolutely no sense to me then, and still doesn’t, that “roughing it” and physical exertion should be seen as a holiday, but when you’re elven years old, you really don’t have much of a say in such matters.

So, I missed the game. I didn’t know anything about it, until on the way home from the trip, I came across a day old newspaper at a greasy spoon on an ill begotten highway and learned that Cal Ripken Jr. hit a home run. Reading about it days later, the insignificance of the game dawned on me. Even if I had sat through the three plus hours of game time, it would be every bit as meaningless as learning about the outcome at a place with laminated menus long after it had already occurred. There was no impact, no discovery caused by the game. It was a meaningless exhibition that had more to do with hype and giving the sports media something to talk about and write about just before the dog days of summer kick in.

And that’s okay. It’s not about us. I believe that sometimes we become sheltered to a degree by our Twitter feeds and the social media surroundings that we choose for ourselves. We imagine the entire world to be much like the 300 Facebook friends whose status updates we don’t roll our eyes at. This, isn’t the case though. There’s an entire continent of casual baseball fans and kids under the age of eleven, who will still see the All-Star game as a spectacle, and something worthy of their attention.

And that’s exactly its purpose: to create fans who one day realize how ridiculous and unimportant the Mid-Summer Classic truly is.

And The Rest

The worst selections in All-Star history. [Baseball Nation]

Apologies to Joe Morgan. [Baseball Prospectus]

And also, fittingly, Tim McCarver as an All-Star analyst of baseball. [Washington Examiner]

U!S!A! U!S!A! U!S!A! [MLB.com]

Things to do while waiting out the All-Star break. [Old Time Family Baseball]

New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira is better off playing a woman’s sport. Or something derisive like that. [ESPN New York]

Why the knuckleball is so hard to hit. [Washington Post]

Derek Jeter dropped a baseball. [Star-Ledger]

The sad travails of San Francisco Giants starter Tim Lincecum continue. [McCovey Chronicles]

Sure. The Miami Marlins have had a disappointing first half of the season, but they should probably still have a playing representative at the All-Star game. [The Sun Sentinel]

Thou shalt not replay close calls. [ESPN Boston]

Are the New York Yankees really not putting it together with runners in scoring position? [Baseball Musings]

Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Zach Greinke is positioned to start three games in a row. Thanks a lot, Tony La Russa. [Orlando Sentinel]

Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker is doing a lot of bristling these days. [Cincinnati.com]

Lesson learned. [MLB.com]