Well, whoopdee dingle doo…

Am I the only one who feels the All Star Game has jumped the shark? Pounced the Porbeagle? Leapt the Lemon? Hurdled the Hammerhead?

To me, it’s the only part of the baseball season that makes me cringe as a writer/regular radio show guest. It means some assigned articles and several radio interviews discussing the game, who was included, who was left off, my feelings and opinions on it all.

Of course, it wouldn’t be nice to simply say what I’m about to write since it would really make me an even bigger wet blanket than I already am. After all, some genuinely care about it and who am I to take a whiz on their cornflakes?

I haven’t always felt this way—it’s just as the game has evolved, very little intelligent design has gone into changing the All-Star Game along with it.

(Waits for groaning to subside)

The thing is, everything the All-Star Game once provided we can get elsewhere throughout the regular season. It’s the ol’ “why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?” scenario.

Do you wish to see the best players in the other league?

We have interleague play (bad) for that—not only that, we now can watch out-of-market games almost on demand (good); we get to see the best players from the other league on a daily basis if we wish (awesome).

Plus, Bud Selig has tried to reduce the differences between the leagues—a common pool of umpires, elimination of league offices and again—interleague play. The only difference remaining is the DH.

We can’t even use the ASG to debate the DH rule since we cover that annually during the first round of interleague games and can do it again come the Fall Classic.

Further, with the introduction of free agency there is more crossover of players from one league to the other. There is no sense of league rivalry or pride anymore. Other than pitchers, players pretty much view playing in either league as no big deal.

Also, despite Selig’s attempts to create a competitive atmosphere, the ASG fails miserably. The “every team must be represented” means that only a tiny minority of players are affected by who receives home-field advantage, plus it’s only best against best for maybe three innings after which time managers try to find playing time for players like Ron Coomer, Mark Redman, Carlos Garcia, Robert Fick and Aaron Boone types.

Would I watch Roy Halladay try to shut down the best players in the NL at each position 3-4 times through the order?

Sure, that would be best against best and watching both sides adjust each time through the lineup—that’s interesting (although it would never happen for obvious reasons). However to watch lefty closers brought in sometime in the sixth inning to face a lefty reserve who is only there because of the “every team must be represented” rule—not so much.

A number of top players prefer having the extra time off to decompress from the first half rather than going to All-Star Game—if they can’t excited about it then how I can get up for it?

Home Run Derby is little more than several hours of commercials with short breaks of hitters swinging at batting practice fastballs while guys like Chris Berman try to impress us with barnyard sound effects—“back-back-back-back-bu-GAWK!!”—or otherwise try to build up some drama to keep us watching through the next block of commercials.

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The actual game announcers become little more than corporate shills and hucksters attempting to make sure that from the pregame show through the final out we’re being encouraged to buy or watch something between commercial breaks when they’re not embarrassing themselves genuflecting over some player who is there based more on his past than anything he has done of late.

It’s MLB’s annual infomercial.

Well, I hate infomercials because occasionally the TV Guide tells me there’s something really good on TV and when the time comes to tune it in, the local affiliate is going to use the three-hour time slot telling me how to dehydrate my meat (I thought the Mitchell Report took care of that), make my own beer or how to become a millionaire overnight by spamming folks’ inboxes and getting my friends and relatives to join me in the venture.

It slices, it dices, it makes julienne fries! It hit .350 in 1996! You’ll wonder how you ever got along without it. Order in the next 15 minutes and we’ll throw in at absolutely no cost an genuine autographed Derek Jeter* baseball signed in the Yankee clubhouse that Derek Jeter vacated three hours before a clubhouse attendant forged his signature on this genuine autographed Derek Jeter baseball—just send 12 easy payments of $89.95 for your free ball! We accept VISA and Mastercard.

(*Signature may not be valid—see your dealer for details)

Well, the All-Star Game is intruding on my regular season and I can’t wait for it to be over.

One last note—this year during Blue Jays’ telecasts we were encouraged to vote for our favourite Blue Jays All Stars. I wonder if Rogers Sportsnet realized that the way the Jays position players hit in the first half, a lot of fans didn’t want to vote for any of them. Sure, we wanted to see guys like Roy Halladay, Shaun Marcum or maybe Scott Downs make it, but we couldn’t vote on that, but to vote for guys who, as I wrote earlier this week…

Think about this: Eleven times in the seventh inning or later, the Jays had either second and third or bases loaded and none out—in one game when down 9-1 in the ninth they rallied for four runs.

However, in the other 10: They had bases loaded, none out seven times and came away with three runs—two on walks, one on a sac fly—and hit into three double plays. On three occasions with second and third, none out they came away with two runs—both on sac flies and went 0-for-24.

…let’s just say the only thing that a lot of us felt like voting for involved using a black pebble (that’s what Google is for).

Anyway, I’m making The Pujols Awards a monthly feature since there isn’t anywhere near the nominations to sustain it weekly. If you sent a nomination between June 20-30 could you re-send it please? Thanks to Windows Vista, it’s probably floating somewhere in the ether and I can’t extract it from there.

My God, ever hear a CPU scream? It ain’t pretty. All I can ask is—does J.P. Ricciardi moonlight at Microsoft?

If you have a nomination for the “The Pujols Award,” let us know! who deserves to be honored this week. If you wish to have your blog credited with the submission, we’ll post the link along with your candidate. Let us know why you feel he deserves an Albert, Luis, “Manny Being Manny” or “The Samson.”

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