Next to the World Series my favorite event on the MLB calendar has to be the All Star Game. I fell in love with it as a kid and now as I'm rapidly approaching my 49th year on this planet; it still holds the same sway over me as it did back then. Please allow me to explain before I get to the main point of this posting.
I'm a product of the seventies. We didn't have cable TV and baseball coverage on the TV wasn't like it is today. We were lucky to have a couple of local games a week, we had Saturday afternoon nationally televised games and we also had Monday Night Baseball. The only time you got "full coverage" was during the post season. We were introduced to stars of the game not on our local team by listening to the radio, watching the local news, collecting baseball cards and reading the box scores. If the star of choice wasn't on your local team or on a team good enough to make the playoffs you didn't get to "see" him play "live" very often if even it all.
The All Star game was different. It made our baseball cards and box scores come alive. The greatest players in the game were all assembled in one place, wearing their team colors and were ready, willing and able to put on a show. The game usually occurred on or near my birthday and my family and I would gather around the TV eating pepperoni pies, chicken parms, hot dogs, Pepsi Colas and watch the game together. Those were good times and still bring a smile to my face and a tear in my eye remembering what was and won't ever be again.
I still remember the elation I felt being able to vote for my favorite players. I used to beg my pops to take me to the ballpark so I could cast my ballot. There were so many names to choose from and it was, and still is, almost impossible to vote and leave off a deserving player. I'd cast my ballot then run around looking for discarded unused ballots and vote again. When the man came around during the 7th inning to collect the ballots I would hand him several and he would wink, smile and I would feel proud at how clever I thought I was not even thinking there were thousands of kids who did the same exact thing.
Man those were good days!
Of course these ballots would lead to many a disagreement on the playground. We would argue amongst ourselves about why we made the right selection and why the others didn't. Some argued we should only vote for "our" guys while others refused to vote for any player on a team they hated. Our choices weren't always baseball only; I voted for Ted Simmons one season only because I had a Ted Simmons model blue ring Adirondack bat so of course I wanted to see him swing it. One of my buddies voted for Bert Campanaris because he thought the nickname "Campy" was cool. Kids being kids, fans being fans was what we were and to hell with what anyone thought. After all it was our game, right?
Back then campaigns to vote for a certain player didn't exist. There weren't any promos on the local telecast attempting to sway the vote they only promoted the ballot itself. It was an unwritten rule that you picked at least 2 from your own team and then pick who you liked from the rest of the ballot. The only time you ever heard a player mention it was actually at the game itself when they being interviewed and to the man they talked about how honored they were that the fans chose them over so many other deserving players.
Times sure have changed for the All Star Game since those days of my youth. The individual team uniforms have been replaced with special jerseys and thanks to the Internet you can vote up to 25 times from the comfort of your own home. The winning League gets home field advantage in the World Series and playground arguments are more than likely held not on the playground but via the Internet on social media, blogs and wherever else one can find to put in their two cents worth. Heck, even the teams are promoting their players and while I understand and accept the changes what I saw the Milwaukee Brewers do in promoting their players was something I thought I would never see and hope to never see again.
When I first saw this video here I thought it was a joke the Brewers were playing. I couldn't believe an MLB team would need to promote players having fantastic seasons by smearing the organization their rivals play for. According to the ad for the Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy it doesn't seem to matter how good a player Molina actually is he plays for the wrong team so he's persona non grata? I can see a bunch of eight year old kids making that argument but a professional baseball team?
Wouldn't it be better and more effective to just put Lucroy's stats alongside Molina's and let the fans decide? Obviously they aren't big fans of the Cardinals and I get why but what I don't get is why they feel the need to employ a cheap senseless smear campaign to promote the best hitting catcher in all of baseball especially considering you know who is currently third among NL outfielders.
This could set a very bad precedent and I hope MLB recognizes this and puts a stop to it before these marketing geniuses turn a fan favorite into nothing more than a cheap tawdry political election that will only turn the fans away in droves.
On today's Phil Naessens Show Viva El Birdos Eric Johnson and I talked about this issue, our Alex Hall joins me to talk all things A's baseball and J.A. Sherman from Welcome to Loud City joins me to talk about Kevin Durant's Twitter statements about Kawhi Leonard and other Thunder news. I'll leave the player below or you can download the program from my site here.