This really isn't your father's -- or even your older brother's -- All-Star Game.
Of the 66 players (yes, 66; they expanded the roster by one this year, to 33) on this year's All-Star rosters, fully two-thirds -- 44 of them -- are making either their first or second All-Star appearance. Only two players -- Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera -- have made as many as ten appearances (it'll be the 10th game for both of those longtime Yankees).
I was struck while watching the replay of the 1971 All-Star Game on the MLB Network last night at how differently the game is played in 2009. Only four pitchers from each league were used, and three starting players played the entire game. One of those was NL catcher Johnny Bench -- can you imagine the screaming from a manager today if his starting catcher was "forced" to play all nine innings in a glorified exhibition game?
There used to be more of a rivalry between leagues and that's why the game was played with more intensity back then. There haven't been league presidents in ten years and the AL and NL today are more like the AFC and NFC in football -- more like "conferences" in an overall league than actual rival leagues. Interleague play, which I like in its current format, has further diluted the rivalry.
The idea that this game should decide home-field advantage in the World Series is, to paraphrase some words that have been used here recently, "a notch above a horrific idea".
Try to enjoy the game anyway. And hope no one gets hurt, particularly Ted Lilly.
|All-Star Starting Pitchers|
|2009 - Tim Lincecum||10-2||18||18||3||2||0||0||127.2||100||37||33||4||34||149||2.33||1.05|
|2009 - Roy Halladay||10-3||17||17||3||1||0||0||123.0||118||41||39||10||17||106||2.85||1.10|
I am not sure how many comments tonight's game will generate -- so I'll post TWO overflow threads, one at 8:30 pm CDT and the second at 9:45 pm CDT.
Discuss amongst yourselves.