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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

From All-Star Game to some-star game

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is supposed to be an event that rewards baseball fans in a city, which, unless it’s named New York, has suffered through many, many more losing seasons than winning seasons.

The game gives fans a chance to see players play in person when it likely wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. As easy as it is to say that you can’t stand Josh Beckett or Miguel Cabrera, seeing a collection of the game’s best players on one field is something that grandparents tell grandkids about.

Somewhere in the last few weeks, that got lost in translation.

In the days of festivities leading up to the event, MLB has given Arizona baseball fans a giant middle finger, and it hasn’t been shy about doing so.

It started with player after player declining to play in this year’s All-Star Game. In a game that’s supposedly for the fans, Derek Jeter couldn’t make the trip to Phoenix just to sit in a dugout for nine innings and tip his hat to fans after he’s announced in the pre-game ceremonies?

Alex Rodriguez, though an admitted steroid user, couldn’t make the trip to reward the fans that voted him into the game, hoping to get a glimpse of their favorite player in person?

No one’s going to argue with someone who declines to play in the game because of an injury or illness. That’s what you should do — the rest of the season is far more important than an exhibition game, even if it decides home-field advantage in the World Series. But when you’re voted into the game by the fans, you should feel an obligation to at least show up.

The next in the long line of MLB screw-ups in the past few weeks, and easily the biggest one, is letting Prince Fielder pick the National League Home Run Derby participants, and then not fixing his colossal mistake of leaving Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton off of that squad.

It would be one thing if Upton wasn’t a deserving candidate or hadn’t come out and publicly stated how much he’d like to be a part of the Home Run Derby. It’d also be one thing if Upton were left off for someone like Lance Berkman, who’s having a monster season in St. Louis.

But to rob Arizona fans of seeing what may be the most talented young player in the game put on an awesome display of power in his home ballpark in front of his home fans, just so you can pick your buddy Rickie Weeks? That’s just another all-too-common example of MLB checking its common sense at the door.

And, somehow, Upton was the lone All-Star representative of perhaps the most surprising team of the season, and one that’s only three games behind the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants.

Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, J.J. Putz, David Hernandez, Miguel Montero and Stephen Drew were all deserving candidates. Of course, Montero got into the game as a replacement for injured Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco, but it shouldn’t have come to that.

Instead, Giants manager Bruce Bochy decided he would rather take Kevin Correia to the game in lieu of Kennedy or Hudson, two more young players who appear to be finding their groove.

But in the midst of all of those screw-ups, the league did get one thing right — honoring the victims of the Jan. 8 shooting while presenting the colors before Tuesday’s game.

The league also invited Daniel Hernandez, who is credited for saving the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, instead of a celebrity or contest winner.

It was one of the rare moments where sports fans and non-sports fans are as equally knowledgeable and equally disgusted about something that took place, and instead of bickering about how pointless or amazing sports are, can unite at a basic human level.

It was one of the rare moments that reminds everyone, myself included, that this is only a game — one played by grossly overpaid men, albeit ones that are frighteningly good at what they do.

And maybe by honoring the victims of that horrible event, the rest of America will see that Arizona isn’t filled to the brim with racists and gun-toting cowboys, but with people who have the same basic needs and wants as those in New York, Massachusetts or Maryland.  

So while MLB may have royally screwed Arizona baseball fans out of their one chance to have an All-Star weekend that they will remember forever, it at least managed to get something right for once.

 

— Alex Williams is the Summer Wildcat sports editor. He can be reached at

sports@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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