The rosters have been announced and there are a couple of days to go until the MLB All-Star Game. It’s a platform for baseball’s brightest stars to shine in one place, but for many, it’s also a contrived cash-grab by the league. If you fall into the latter camp, here are five reasons to get hyped about the Midsummer Classic.
5. This time it doesn’t count!
Since the All-Star Game began determining home-field advantage for the World Series back in 2003, critics have been outspoken against the experiment. This year they got what they wanted and instead of winning home-field advantage players will now share a pool of money – a little incentive for players whose teams have little chance of reaching the postseason, let alone the World Series.
4. Pageantry for pageantry’s sake
It never gets old to me, all the pomp and circumstance around the Midsummer Classic. Every year I park myself in front of the TV an hour before game time to watch a seemingly endless parade of player introductions, salutes to troops, F-16 Flyovers, bald eagle releases, a flag as big as the stadium itself and dozens of ceremonial “first” pitches. I know it’s all just window dressing, but it adds so much spectacle to the whole thing.
3. More than a game
Sure, the game itself is the main event every year, but let’s not forget about the Home Run Derby and the Legends & Celebrities Game. The Derby is mindless fun at its best. Hours and hours of players spraying sunflower seeds all over each other as the game’s best power hitters mash tater after tater. My favorite part is listening to the broadcasters strain to find new ways of describing home runs as the derby reaches its later stages. The Legends & Celebrities Game is super-underrated in my opinion. Where else can you watch Ozzie Smith, Spike Lee and Billy Crystal turn a 6-4-3 double play?
2. Express yourself!
It’s no secret that baseball’s unwritten rules of how to “play the game the right way” can lead to a stuffy on-field product. In the All-Star Game though, these rules tend to get relaxed a bit, giving the players more room to be themselves. Expect bat-flips, trash-talking and over the top reactions to be the rule, rather than the exception.
1. Baseball’s new crop of stars
These aren’t the same old All-Stars. Gone are the Big Papi’s, Carlos Beltran’s and Miguel Cabrera’s of the world. They’ve been replaced by exciting young stars making their first All-Star appearances like Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa. Even guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper who seem like old news at this point are still in the early stages of their career. For many viewers, this will be their first exposure to players outside their media market, and even with the interleague play happening on a continuous basis, many of the matchups we get to see in an All-Star Game usually only happen in fantasy baseball.
Will you be watching? What’s your favorite part of the All-Star Break?
Baseline Times MLB Contributor