By R.D. Ferman
While enjoying dinner with my roommates during my senior year of college, I suddenly became devastated when I heard the history channel narrator mention how the navy had retired all battleships from the global fleet. “What an outrage! How could they?” I asked out loud. “Dude, they’re obsolete” my roommate quickly responded. I was beside myself. How could a naval asset and symbol of national pride dating back to the War of 1812 with the USS Constitution; continuing through the Spanish American war with the USS Maine; and the start and end of WWII with the USS Arizona and USS Missouri, respectively, become obsolete?
Well, the purpose for these massive dreadnoughts was shore bombardment to make way for an eventual landing force and ship-to-ship combat. The advent of aircraft carrier based fighter jets along with cruise missiles that could be launched from small, speedy, maneuverable submarines and destroyers all but erased the need for battleships and their huge 16 inch guns. Sentiment was no reason to continue spending tax payer money on a large crew and fuel for a vessel that was no longer practical.
In similar fashion, it is time for Major League Baseball to decommission the All-Star Game. While the annual tradition provided lasting memories for generations of baseball fans during its peak, new technologies have killed the mystique and excitement.
Growing up without cable during the 1980s in an American League market, the “Midsummer Classic” afforded me an opportunity to watch players in live action that I really only knew from what I read on the back of their baseball cards, watching ‘This Week in Baseball’, and from the rare appearance on the ABC ‘Game of the Week’. Eventually cable TV became more prevalent; ESPN aired several games a week along with daily highlight shows. Interleague play further diluted any remaining anticipation the All Star game provided. As technology continued to evolve, MLB launched its own 24 hour network and sold small fee subscriptions that permitted fans to view any and all games on a smartphone.
With fans instantly sharing highlights via social media and players interacting directly using these same modern outlets, the All-Star game no longer adds meaningful fan value. In fact, most baseball fans that I know are bummed that they are unable to watch their favorite teams play during All Star week. Sure, Yankee fans were excited when their hometown hero, Aaron Judge left the yard in this year’s contest in Washington, but most would have much rather watched him swing for the fences in a regular season game and continue their quest to rip first place in the AL East division from the hated Boston Red Sox.
MLB would be better served to cancel All-Star week festivities and allow the regular season games to continue. The league schedulers can easily work in 3 consecutive off days for each team at various points in the middle months of the season. This new arrangement will allow player rest and preserve the normal flow of the season, which would better suit the fans.
This proposal would be welcomed by most, but not an easy task to implement. Agents and the players union will demand the incentive bonuses for making the All-Star team and All-Star game MVP awards. My solution – an All-Star Series that starts shortly after the World Series and is played in markets that do not have MLB teams. This could be a golden opportunity to maintain mid-season fan interest and extend it beyond the post season celebrations. It could also serve as a tool to promote the sport internationally, similar to the old barnstorming days of the Ruth era. The series could start in Las Vegas, then move to Tokyo, then on to Mexico City, and then finish up in San Juan.
The All-Star Game served a great purpose for decades; it delivered for fans according to the technical limitations of the day. It certainly deserves a large place in the game’s history books. Fortunately, baseball fans now have the ability to follow all players, in all cities, at practically all times. So, just like the USS New Jersey, the All-Star game is obsolete. It’s time to move on!
R.D. lives in Manhattan. He loves sports, seafood, and has never smoked weed.