By: Kurt Snyder
If you asked 100 sports fans which All-Star Game is the best, I would be hard pressed to believe it would be anything but baseball.
If you tried to rank them, baseball ranks far and away the most entertaining and genuine display of the game and how it is intended to be played. The other sports don’t have that. They can’t.
Every All-Star Game except baseball must compromise their game in some way to avoid injury. So it’s a watered down version of their game, forcing the entertainment value to take a dive.
Hockey turns into a skating party with no hitting and little defense, which makes the game something other than what fans are used to seeing. Maybe hockey fans like the change of pace. Maybe they like to see their offensive stars perform in open ice, but that wouldn’t be me.
Football doesn’t even call their game an All-Star Game. It’s called the Pro Bowl maybe because they hold it at the end of the season when everyone is injured and really would rather heal their wounds than play in another football game.
Also the Pro Bowl is played before the Super Bowl, so you can’t expect any of the stars from those 2 teams to risk injury by participating. As far as the game itself? Not a lot of hitting, not a lot of emotion. Not much defense. It’s just an offensive display dominated by quarterbacks and receivers.
And the NBA? Well, do you like dunks and 3-pointers? Because that’s all you will see if you are an annual viewer of the game. Again, very little defense. Wait. Let me rephrase that. No defense. Not a lick. In fact, this year’s NBA All-Star Game was almost a race to 200 points. But again, it is not a representation or even a celebration of how the game is supposed to be played.
So what makes the MLB All-Star Game different? Well, the skills of each player are on display. It’s not just an offensive game. It’s not just a defensive game. It’s not all about pitching. It’s not about who manages their team the best. It is all of those things. You get to see big power. You get to see great offensive and defensive execution and tremendous pitching. It’s truly baseball. No compromising of the game.
Baseball’s All Stars play the game the way you see it every day. That alone is what makes it special. Sure they have fun. There are a lot of smiles and a lot of laughs, but as the game moves along, they get more and more serious. The competitive fire is evident. Home field in the World Series is on the line, but I would argue that it doesn’t enter the minds of these guys, nor is it a necessary ingredient or required source of intrigue.
Baseball stands on its own. All they need to do is play. Baseball’s big game will always be a joy to watch, more than any other sport.
But hang on for just a minute. We are not quite done here. It’s not just the players on display. No, lets not forget the beautiful ballparks. Every stadium is different adding just one more element of the game that makes it unique and more desirable.
You get to see a new one every year with all their unique dimensions and landscape. No other sport can say that. There is absolutely nothing unique about the playing surface in the other 3 major sports. Same dimensions across the board for hockey, football and basketball. The only difference is probably the size of the crowd in attendance.
Baseball is truly a celebration; a testimony to the game and how it’s meant to be played. But it’s also a showcase of one of the many unique ballparks that these players get to play in every year.
Plain and simple, this is America’s All-Star Game, in every sense of the word, standing alone with no fluff required..