Tagged: MLB

Is the All-Star Designation Losing Its Luster?

When I think of the All-Star squads, I think of the best of the best, the true “stars” of the game. I think of a very small few, my ideal team filled with MVP candidates.

I do not think of two squads that combined field 83 players.

When I heard that number while watching Sunday Night Baseball last night, I was not initially shocked by it. But then I thought about it. There are 30 teams, each with 25 players on their active rosters. That equals 750 players in Major League Baseball at any given time. 83 players out of 750 is roughly 11% of the baseball populace. That means that 11% of the players, whether they actually attend tomorrow’s game or not, can walk away from this season with the “All-Star” label.

11% may seem like a small percentage, but to me, it is still higher than what I would expect from a game that is designed to showcase the best of the best. In my opinion, Aaron Crow and Tyler Clippard are not the best of the best. I don’t even know what teams those men come from, or what position they play. And quite frankly, I don’t want to turn on my TV and see Tyler Clippard hitting or pitching or whatever he does, and have to believe that he is part of the game’s elite. But I guess when you let 11% of the whole into The Mess That Selig Made, you end up with some Aaron Crows and Tyler Clippards.

Oh well, I guess I’ll use tomorrow night as a time to watch reruns of The Office. If you get lemons, gotta make lemonade.

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What You Don’t See is What Counts

With my finals schedule never requiring me to report to school earlier than 10 (and now that I’m off for the summer since yesterday, hooray!), I’ve been watching a lot of Wimbledon. Wimbledon, for those of you not familiar with professional tennis, is the grandest and most hallowed tournament on the tennis circuit. One of the few tournaments played on grass courts, players are required to wear white outfits, play is suspended on the second Sunday, and men and women are referred to as ‘gentlemen’ and ‘ladies’. I love seeing all of these traditional customs observed, but one of Wimbledon’s greatest allures, in my opinion is the one thing you don’t see.

Sponsor signage.

In the professional sports world, as we baseball fans know all too well, everything is commercialized. Comiskey was erased long ago in favor of U.S. Cellular Field, the Mets erected their new stadium and immediately blazoned ‘Citi Field’ across the top. It’s not just stadium names that have been bought. Whenever the Yankees make a pitching change, the switch is brought to you by AT&T. Whenever a Giants’ pitcher strikes out an opposing batter, the K is sponsored by Johnsonville Sausage. (I’m sorry, but Johnsonville Sausage did not strike out that player, Tim Lincecum just did.) Assorted companies display their logos along the deck railings, restaurants and bars greet you with a logo of a food brand at their entrance.

You don’t see any of that at Wimbledon.

The stadium walls, rather than be covered with names of everything ranging from soda to toilet paper, are covered in ivy. The umpires and linesmen have no logos on their uniforms, other than that of the tournament. Oh, wait, what’s that behind Roger Federer’s head?

Is that a teeny-tiny Rolex logo? Tsk tsk, Wimbledon. How dare you put a small, subtle sponsorship logo anywhere near your pristine grounds? Who knows, you might go from that to this:

A Sports Authority logo, a Volvo sign, a W.B. Mason panel, and an F.W. Webb ad, whatever that is. And this is only one side of the stadium. Even a beautiful, old park like Fenway has succumbed to corporate pressure over the years.

Sometimes, it’s not what you see, but what you don’t see that makes a place special.

I Talk Consolidation, MLB Talks Realignment

If you scroll down to a couple of posts back, you will find a post in which I suggest that the Oakland A’s franchise be dissolved due to the team’s underperforming nature. As you could probably gather from that post, I am a fan of consolidation in MLB, but I know that the odds of that happening are about 1,000,000,000 to 1. However, I did find a news article on ESPN.com today that was of interest. MLB may not be thinking consolidation at this time, but they are thinking realignment.

Currently, the American and National Leagues are uneven, with 14 teams in the AL and 16 teams in the NL. Apparently, in current labor talks between the league and the players’ association, evening the leagues to 15 teams apiece has been frequently mentioned. An even more radical idea that has been proposed is that the leagues are even and divisions are abolished altogether, leaving the 15 teams in each league to fight for one of five league playoff spots.

As much as I advocate change in terms of consolidation, I’m not quite sure purpose what this sort of realignment would serve. No teams would be eliminated, and the current system is working relatively well. However, the idea of such a drastic change in MLB is intriguing, and I’m looking forward to seeing if this idea can gain momentum throughout the league.