Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Solution to All-Star No-Shows: No Game

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Solution to All-Star No-Shows: No Game

Article excerpt

There are plenty of things in life that just go together, like surf and sun, meat and potatoes, high and mighty, fishing and lies, kiss and tell. It's impossible to imagine one without the other.

And so it is disconcerting to reflect on Major League Baseball's All-Star Game of 72 hours ago. It was an All-Star Game but without most of the stars. It was salt without pepper, Mutt without Jeff.

Actually, it was a Some-Stars Game, depending on how you feel about the star power of the likes of Jeff Kent, Troy Glaus, Mike Sweeney, or Edgardo Alfonzo.

What happened is that seven of the players the fans voted to the game as starters came down with assorted ailments that they said prevented them from playing: Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Mike Piazza, and Cal Ripken Jr. Star pitchers extraordinaire Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux also declared themselves out.

It's easy to trash the players for their decisions not to play when the fans want to see them. After all, baseball has made itself hard for fans to love with all manner of questionable behavior over recent years. Among the problems: way too high ticket and food prices, owner arrogance, and player boorishness.

So for this many players to opt out is troublesome. After all, who did you prefer to see play at third for the American League, Ripken or Travis Fryman? Who did you prefer to see among the outfielders for the National League, Griffey and Bonds or Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Edmonds?

OK, the vote is in, and it's nearly unanimous.

Griffey competed in the home-run-hitting contest but not the game. Hmmm.

Pedro had something wrong that nobody understood. Hmmm.

Time out for fairness. What the players are focused on is playing well in the regular season. Those 162 games are infinitely more important than one All-Star Game. Indeed, the actual game has little importance.

Let's assume that the players are telling the truth. The fact they are looking at the big picture, as opposed to the one night in Atlanta picture, is realistic, even laudable.

Not many fans remember, for example, that in the 1950 All-Star Game, Boston's Ted Williams crashed into the scoreboard at Chicago's Comiskey Park while catching a line drive off the bat of Ralph Kiner. …

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