Helicopters - awesome!

Helicopters – awesome!

I was once like you, alternating between feelings of indifference and hostility towards baseball’s All Star Game. The hollow “this time it counts” conceit grated and the diluted pool of talent was a turn-off. I lamented the game for what it wasn’t and longed for it to be what it was when I was young – or at least how I falsely remembered it.

All of which were mistakes on my part.

The All Star game isn’t perfect but, if you just give it room to breathe and be what it is, it can be a good time and a fun annual tradition. Fun? Perish the thought!

Hey, we all agree the massive rosters and peculiar selection process robs the game of some credibility. But, when you think about it, who cares about credibility? It’s an exhibition game at its core, a showcase event for the league and its sponsors. The integrity of the athletic endevaour is all relative, anyway. There aren’t a lot of ways to half-ass a 97 mile per hour fastball.

When was the last time you cared about the legitimacy of your entertainment? More to the point: do you really need to get out of your own just to be entertained?

Does watching Matt Harvey face Mike Trout (the most exciting young pitcher and the best player in baseball, head to head!) in front of a stadium full of adoring hometown fans not entertain you?

Does the knowledge that Hiroki Kuroda should probably be in the dugout watching this instead of spending time doing…whatever Big Hirok does over the All Star break interfere with your enjoyment of Matt Harvey mowing down some of the best hitters in the game?

If so, that’s a shame.

Yeah, the broadcast is bloated and much of the experience is corny, but every so often you get to watch Cliff Lee do something awesome and distinctly Cliff Lee-ish. And then you are imbued with a sense of joy and a sense of purpose: quite simply, live more like Cliff Lee.

Then Chris Sale came in and did freaky Chris Sale stuff and it was great! Then Carlos Beltran got a hit! Rather than focus on who might not be there or who might deserve to be, think about a lineup that featured Bryce Harper hitting ninth. NINTH! That’s a lot of good baseball players all in one place.

Don’t think the level of game play is on par with an ever-important midweek battle between the Cubs and Padres? Jim Leyland deployed an infield shift against Dom Brown, he used his army of situational relievers situationally (to great effect) – he wanted it bad!

The field was lined with great players and they did their best to do cool things. Like Manny Machado making the most of his experience to introduce the uninitiated to his superlative defense.

Hey, I’m sure its more fun to spend your time immersed in the excruciating minutia of the medium-leverage reliever usage for your favorite .500 club. Perhaps you prefer fretting over the development of prospects — the bulk of which, if they’re incredibly lucky, might earn the honor of being overlooked for an All Star game — rather than sitting back and watching one of the game’s unique talents and enduring stars (media created or otherwise) sheepishly bask in the respect of his peers and fans.

Let the game be what it is and you can have a grand old time watching. Look at Miguel Cabrera, he had a grand old time playing in the game, even though he had to face Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez in the same night. This was his face after Fernandez threw the second of three straight 98 mph fastballs to the Tigers slugger.

miggy smiles lolse

All the good will the early, Matt Harvey’d part of the game earned from me persisted through the pitching changes and new player bingo of the later innings. The game moved briskly and never threatened to bore me. Not “perfect” and the deification of Mariano Rivera was a little much but, again, who cares? Fox has a job to do and bills to pay, I suppose.

But the game came in a shade over three hours and most fans went home happy. It wasn’t the perfect All Star game but it had its share of moments which are sure to live long(ish) in the memory. And, for me, that’s sort of the point. Just enjoy it, rather than scream and shout about how to fix it and what it is supposed to mean or represent.

It is a show, a show that can sometimes disappoint but, with expectations managed accordingly, can satisfy without a lot of effort. The 2013 Major League Baseball All Start Game – nothing if not satisfying. A complete success*, in other words.

* – I really, really hope Robinson Cano is okay. Enjoyable exhibitions are still just exhibitions, hopefully all players escape unscathed.