Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2 comments Terence Moore Writes about How Great the MLB All-Star Game Is, Certainly Not at the Behest of His Employer

Terence Moore works for MLB.com. He has written an article about how great the All-Star Game is and how the MLB All-Star Game is still totally relevant because MLB says so. He even throws in a little bit about how great the Home Run Derby is for good measure. It's probably just coincidence that MLB.com has an article up about how great the All-Star Game is. Nothing to see here. The problem is that while Terence Moore writes about how the MLB All-Star Game is still relevant, the facts don't show that the All-Star Game has maintained the relevance Terence claims it has. So here is Terence Moore, not at all doing MLB.com's bidding by talking up the All-Star Game, telling us how the All-Star Game is relevant still, just as long as you ignore that fewer and fewer viewers are tuning into the game.

Don't give me this crap either about how there are other things to watch on television and that's why ratings are down. This is a good counter to the constant attempts to explain how baseball is dying, because baseball is really a regional sport, but the All-Star Game is not supposed to be regional. A person may not watch the Tigers and Yankees on Monday Night Baseball because they are watching something else, but the All-Star Game is supposed to be an event. I don't buy the "regionalism" excuse in this situation.

So was it LeBron James, and then the Final Vote?

Or was it the Final Vote, and then LeBron?

It was more like "Everyone talking LeBron and then a few Tweets about the Final Vote mainly involving hashtags."

Full disclosure here before I begin going through Terence Moore's insistence the All-Star Game is still relevant. I am a fan of baseball and don't watch the All-Star Game. I haven't watched it in nearly a decade and I will not, ever, ever, watch any more than a few minutes of the Home Run Derby. I've tried it before. It's by far among the most boring and overrated events involved with any sport ever. It needs to improved in so many ways (not the least of which to get the human penguin Chris Berman off the program, preferably locked in a closet with a grenade in his mouth) that I can't watch the event as it is currently shown. I don't know what kind of half-assed event allows the competitor to choose the person pitching to him and then allows an infinite number of pitches that batter can take. If you choose your pitcher, then you can't sit there for half an hour waiting on the perfect pitch. That's my stance. So I am biased in that I am a fan of baseball who is tired of the pomp and circumstance of the Home Run Derby and doesn't really care about the All-Star Game all that much. It's an exhibition game no matter how much baseball doesn't want it to be.

I don't watch any All-Star games in any sport. I think baseball's All-Star Game is the best of the major sports, but All-Star Game is a relic of a time when fans couldn't watch every single MLB player any time they wanted. You could see Babe Ruth hit! Now you can see a guy for the Yankees hit by getting the MLB Extra Innings package or tuning into any Monday/Wednesday/Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN where the Yankees appear 25 times per year. If that doesn't work for you, just pay attention to the multitude of highlights available showing that player hitting. All-Star games were once for the fans to see players they normally couldn't see play. That day has passed.

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game still matters, and it does so big time. We know this, because the Final Vote spent the last few days sprinting around the bases toward scoring the winning run among Twitter followers.

I think this may be more of a result of fans of certain players wanting that player to have the honor of participating in the All-Star Game, rather than proof the All-Star Game matters big time. More users of Twitter are younger, while those who watch the All-Star Game average to be in their 50's. These circles overlap certainly, but the Final Vote was more of a way for fans to get their favorite player in the game more than proof the All-Star game matters more than ever. So it seems there are quite a few people who voted for the final spot on the NL/AL team who probably won't end up watching the game. 

Trending? Twitter? Cyberspace? There goes another myth that baseball doesn't keep up with the times.

Young people like baseball. Baseball doesn't always keep up with the times, but it certainly is a myth that there aren't fans of baseball who are younger. No doubt.

There is Interleague Play throughout the season. There is expanded replay. There even are lights in Wrigley Field. Mostly, there isn't a reason for folks to insist the game is operating in the dark ages, not unless they choose to ignore the several million people who spent much of this week typing things into their electronic devices such as #PickRick, #VoteJUP and #TargetSale.

I'll remember this statement the next time Terence Moore claims innovations and changes in baseball are ruining the sport. The sport is in great shape and there's no way the game is operating in the dark ages, much of this to the chagrin and against the will of the so-called "Traditionalists" like Terence Moore. The game of baseball is changing and innovating despite writers like Terence Moore who dig in their heels and refuse to budge when confronted with ideas they don't like.

Those hashtag items on Twitter represented Final Vote candidates. There was a group of five players from each the National and American Leagues, and much of the universe (at least the part that was tweeting, re-tweeting or sort of thinking about it) watched those several million folks push aside thoughts of LeBron's latest decision to study, then discuss and then pick the player they wanted for the last roster spot of that player's respective league at Tuesday night's All-Star Game in Minneapolis.

I didn't see a lot of discussion about these players and why one player deserved to be on the All-Star team over another player on Twitter. Mostly there were a lot of hashtags and statements simply made about who the respective Tweeter supports for the Final Vote. There was much more discussion (that I saw at least) on LeBron and his free agency decision.

I feel like Terence Moore is translating interest in a player from a certain team making the All-Star team to also mean those people Tweeting support of that player were very interested in the All-Star game as a whole. It may be true, but the last time I checked MLB didn't even release the final Final Vote counts. Perhaps I missed it. It seems the Final Vote is just a way to get more players from a fan's favorite team into the All-Star Game.

Contrary to the whispers that have become shouts over the decades among baseball bashers, the All-Star Game still matters, all right.

The All-Star Game matters only because MLB has tied the winner of the All-Star Game to the league that gets homefield advantage in the World Series. So the game matters in that it's forced to matter, rather than settle which team gets homefield advantage in the World Series by giving it to the team that has the best record on the season. That makes more sense to me. So the game matters because it's made to matter, but viewership is declining.

Two words: Derek Jeter

(Starts screaming out of joy and eventually faints)

Officially, he is the Yankees' Captain.

Unofficially, he is the Lord Commander of All That is Right with Baseball.

Unofficially, he has been baseball's greatest ambassador inside and outside of the foul lines for most of his two decades in the Major Leagues. Come to think of it, Jeter has been more significant than that.

Definitely. He's also the Shining Example of Players Who Don't Use PED's and Would Never Dream of Benefiting from Using PED's *

*As long as you don't count the fact he's been teammates with multiple PED users and has won many games, including a few World Series, while benefiting from his teammates who have used PED's.

He is retiring after this season.


He already has been hugged in every city he has visited for the last time. So, since this is his last All-Star Game, more than a few folks will be clicking their remotes Tuesday night to view it all.

Oooooo....yeah, but Tuesday is "Shark Tank" night on CNBC and I also have started watching "House of Cards." So I'll just have to settle for watching Jeter play the 68 other games he will play in the regular season. See, I will be able to do that because it's not 1946 and his team is on television all the time. Welcome to the future.

Did I say baseball All-Star Games still matter?

Yeah, but it's true only in that it's forced to be true.

Think Jeter, and now think Cal Ripken Jr., whose farewell season was 2001, when he played his last All-Star Game in Seattle. There was two-fold drama for this noted iron man of the Orioles, and it began before the first pitch after AL shortstop Alex Rodriguez exchanged positions with Ripken at third base to bring Ripken back to his shortstop roots.

Well plus, A-Rod's steroids worked better when he was at third base. This is a scientifically accurate statement.

Jeter will become Ripken next week in his own way. I don't know when, and I don't know how.

Less insightful sentences will ever be written. Remember when this column was about the All-Star Game mattering and not about Derek Jeter? 

Let's review this sentence briefly. Jeter will become Ripken "next week" in his own way. Terence doesn't know when, despite the fact he just said it will be "next week" when this occurs. So next week (but don't ask Terence when because he doesn't know) Derek Jeter will become a white balding man who plays third base for the Baltimore Orioles. Don't ask Terence Moore how, he knows, but he's working on a really original screenplay that will elaborate more on how Derek Jeter turns into Cal Ripken.

That's because everything around the All-Star Game still matters, along with the nearly 30-year-old Home Run Derby, which is an extension of the game itself.

The Home Run Derby is like cancer on the anus of the All-Star Game. It could easily go away and many people would feel better, especially those who have to hear Chris Berman constant bellowing "Back, back, back..." fifty million times as he randomly names cities and wonders why anyone who still has their hearing hates him.

Unlike the NBA that struggles to get stars to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest during its All-Star Game Weekend, baseball has many of its premier sluggers in the 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby. They include Giancarlo Stanton and Yasiel Puig, masters of rocket shots toward the farthest black hole, and Josh Donaldson, who joins Stanton (21) with at least 20 homers already in this Year of the Pitcher.

Except the Home Run Derby takes longer than actual game of baseball, it just has Chris Berman as the commentator and lacks any other type of exciting action. Even the most exciting part of the Home Run Derby, when a ball is hit far, is interrupted by the seal-like bellowing of Applebees' favorite shill.

The Home Run Derby needs a huge re-vamp. It's way too long. Outside of Chris Berman, the length of the Home Run Derby is outrageous. Players shouldn't be able to choose their pitcher and then stand at home plate and wait for the perfect pitch to hit. You chose the pitcher, hit what he throws you.

There is the Futures Game that showcases stars to come, the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game, a concert and the Red Carpet Show before the game.

And I know fans really love the Red Carpet Show before the Home Run Derby. Who are you wearing, David Ortiz?

But it's all about the primary game, and those who contend that it doesn't matter keep confusing baseball's All-Star Game with its historically irrelevant counterparts from the other four major professional leagues in North America.

In terms of being the best All-Star game, MLB's is the best, but this is like being the fastest kid at fat camp. The Pro Bowl is the jokiest of jokes, the NBA All-Star Game is just a bunch of scoring and I know nothing about the NHL All-Star Game so I probably should avoid commenting on it like I already have. At least baseball's All-Star Game has some semblance of similarity to a real baseball game. Still, ratings have been declining and the game only matters because MLB forces it to matter.

Quick: Name your favorite Pro Bowl.

The one where the punter got blown up by some defensive player.

Elsewhere, the All-Star Games associated with the NBA and NHL resemble the Pro Bowl in that they really aren't games. It's difficult to say what they are. Not only do they rarely feature defense, they lack true offense. The same goes for any sense of strategy, enthusiasm and charisma.

Again, it's like being the fastest kid at fat camp. Yes, MLB has the best All-Star Game, though it does lose in terms of ratings to the Pro Bowl. The audience for the MLB All-Star Game is declining and this can't be ignored when speaking about it's relevance. All the hashtags and Final Vote tallies can't cover up for the fact the All-Star Game is very popular, but not as popular as it used to be. It's an important event, but only through contrived circumstances, and the novel idea of the All-Star Game lacks relevance in 2014 when fans can see the participants in the All-Star Game play baseball almost any time they would like to.

Baseball's All-Star Game has all of that, and it began with the legendary likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx during the first one in 1933. They made the whole thing magical forever. Cal Hubbell striking out five consecutive Hall of Famers. Ted Williams skipping around the bases after a game-winning homer. Pete Rose slamming through Ray Fosse at home plate for an NL victory. Reggie Jackson's rocketing a shot off a light tower at Tiger Stadium. Dave Parker making a throw for the ages from right field.

Notice what all of those highlights have in common? I'll give you a hint, Mike Trout wasn't around to see them.

There always are moments at baseball's All-Star Games, and none surpasses that impromptu tribute to Williams before the 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park. Half of New England gathered around the pitcher's mound for a group hug of the Red Sox legend. Actually, it was just current baseball legends doing the honor, but it seemed like more.

This was a nice moment. It was also a moment that didn't really have anything to do with the game being played on the field that night. What did have to do with the product on the field was Pedro Martinez striking out five of the first six batters he faced.

More importantly, the ratings for that game were 17.64 million people, which is a number the All-Star Game hasn't hit since that time. That was 15 years ago, by the way. I think this ties in well with the idea that MLB has the best All-Star game of the four major sports, but this doesn't mean the game matters now more than it used to. It's still an exhibition game, just an exhibition game with an outcome tied to the World Series.

Then came last year, when Yankees closer Mariano Rivera played his last All-Star Game along the way to retirement. He didn't know he was about to produce moist eyes throughout Citi Field in New York. He was sent to the pitcher's mound to start the eighth inning, but nobody else took the field.

He was a man alone ... with endless cheers.

That was a good moment too. The All-Star Game isn't irrelevant, it's just not the exciting, defining moment of the season that Terence Moore seems to be believe it is. Terence claims the game matters because of the Final Vote and because the game decides World Series homefield advantage. The fact the game decides the World Series is a way contrived to give the game meaning, so I don't really include that as giving the All-Star Game meaning. I also think those people on Twitter who wanted fans to vote for a certain player for the final spot on the team did so out of love for their team, not necessarily as a shining example of how much they think the All-Star Game matters.

Baseball's All-Star Game still matters for those reasons and that other one: The winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series.

And yet, this doesn't really mean the game matters in the eyes of the fans. Whether the game really matters to the general public is reflected in the ratings for the game, which reflects who was interested enough to watch the game. So the All-Star Game doesn't matter because of the insistence of tying homefield advantage into who wins the All-Star Game. It matters because fans enjoy and watch the game. By that metric, the game doesn't matter as much as it used to. Baseball isn't dying because it's a regional sport and the All-Star Game isn't dying. Pretending it still holds the relevance it used to is folly though.


Anonymous said...

Ben, tell me your thoughts on this. Isn't it ridiculous to give home field advantage in the World Series to the winning league, but at the same time every team has to be represented? Awful teams that have no worthy all-star will have players potentially determining home field advantage in the World Series. How can you say the all star game matters when the Kansas City Royals used to send guys like Mark Redman and Ken Harvey to the game? For game 7 of the World Series to be determined in even a small way by some mediocre player on a 60-win team is ludicrous. If you want the game to matter, get the best players in it, period.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I think the rule is ridiculous for sure. I think if the ASG is tied to the World Series then it needs to be the best players in each league, regardless of team. I'm not sure if one player will often make a difference in the ASG, at least in terms of a player from a crappy team who shouldn't be there, but the possibility is always there. Especially for a pitcher who makes the squad and probably doesn't deserve it.