My favorite part, along with the game itself, has always been the player introductions. I played organized baseball (and none of that T-ball shit) from the time I was five years old. Nothing was cooler to me than seeing the likes of Willie, Hammerin' Hank, Yaz, et al, trotting onto that beautiful green field in the uniforms they wore every game. Keep in mind that I grew up in an era where a baseball game on television was not an everyday thing. The Sox were on during the weekend, which was a great thrill, and there was a national game of the week and that was it. Obviously the 24 hour cable sports outlets didn't exist, nor did the internet. So your daily baseball fix was listening to the game at night on the radio, reading the write-up of the game in the paper the following morning and perusing the box scores. So you didn't get to see these players literally all the time like you do now. Maybe that's why the All Star Game was such a big deal?
I remember all those years where the American League never won and when the Red Sox weren't very good but I would always be excited for this game, root for the AL and hope our lone All Star, usually Yaz, would give us Sox fans something to cheer for. Remember, if you can, that the AL won roughly two All Star games between the time I was born in 1961 and 1982.
So I'm sitting here watching the player intros and I'm still excited to see the Red Sox announced, hope our players do well and that the AL trounces the NL yet again; but I'm also wondering why this game has lost its luster in the last few years. Is it simply the most obvious reason, that with all of the player movement it's difficult for the players and the fans to really care about winning this game?
When you watched the player intros, didn't you envision yourself in your team's uniform being introduced as an All Star? Then why is it that many of the games greatest players don't appear to care about this game anymore? Jeter's tired? Come on, man. I hate the Yankees with a seething passion but I've always respected this guy; and even though he didn't deserve to be on this year's team, he was voted in and should have humbly accepted and showed up and played.
This is still the best by far of the major sports all star games. It's played during the season when the players are sharp and the fans care; the players wear the uniforms you're familiar with, and there are still plenty of stars on parade. So why would the players rather not be there and does that sentiment in part explain why this game is not as highly anticipated by the fans as it once was?
UPDATE: Alas, the American League lost but I thought it was a well played, entertaining game -- great pitching, clutch hitting and some excellent defensive plays. I thought the Sox players acquitted themselves well, especially AGon's homer, though I'm concerned about Beckett's knee. Did you see the list of AL All Star pitchers who were not there for various reasons and or couldn't play, like Beckett and Lester? Would that have made an impact on the outcome of the game?