Monday, July 14, 2008

Joe Morgan - All-Star Game of Death

Lom Henn's favorite baseball commentator and turdmeister, Joe Morgan, puts in his two cents worth on the decline of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game.

Morgan: All-Stars of old had more fire

Joe Morgan looks at what has happened to the All-Star Game and doesn't like what he sees.

The Hall of Fame second baseman remembers when the top stars played all nine innings, when the All-Stars drew huge ratings.

Joe, your last All-Star game appearance was 29 years ago! I bet Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Jackie Robinson may have felt the same thing about your generation playing in the All-Star Game in 1979!

Not anymore.

"Part of the reason the game doesn't bring that energy is it's a different game now," he said Thursday. "Now it's considered an exhibition, whereas before it was considered life and death."

That's because it is an exhibition!!!!!!

Life or death??? That really would have been a game for the ages. I would have liked to have been there for the announcement of, "This year's MLB All-Star Game has been changed. The players on the losing team will be killed by the winning team's choice immediately following the game," and then watch the players drop a turd in their shorts. It's the MLB All-Star Game of Death!!!!!! You bet I'd tune in for that one.

Really, Joe, the decline in the All-Star Game is not due fully to the players playing the game now. I'll give you a few reasons why the decline is not due to just the players.

  • When you played, the top-ranked TV shows had ratings in the 30s. Today, the top-ranked shows are lucky to make it into the 20s. Back in the 70's, the #30 ranked show had a higher rating than this year's top show, American Idol (16.1 rating).
  • When you played, the only times the NL and AL players faced each other were in the World Series and the All-Star games. Since the inception of interleague play, we get to see teams from each league play each other roughly 18 times each year. While this has been a boon for the owners and generally regarded as a success by the average fan, many traditionalists continue to hate interleague play...but that is another story for another time.
  • Giving the winner of the All-Star Game home-field advantage in the World Series probably has not helped, but I have not heard from the players what their take is on this one.
  • The fans who elect the players to the game are mostly morons. Fans vote for their favorite player, not the most deserving player. I get that, but every year we see someone voted into the game that hasn't played all year do to an injury or is batting .125 and strikes out every other at bat. Although, the players were not any better this year in electing Jason Varitek to the 2008 All-Star AL team.
The last time the All-Star Game was at Yankee Stadium, in 1977, Morgan led off the game with a home run off Jim Palmer. A 10-time All-Star with the Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros, Morgan's National League teams were a perfect 10-0 against the American Leaguers.

The All-Star Game has seen winnings streaks for both leagues. The National League won 11 in-a-row from 1972 to 1982 and won 19 of 20 from 1963 to 1982. The American League have won 10 of the last 11 with the odd one being the tie game in '02.

What does this really have to do with Joe's rant on the decline of this game? Oh, that's right, this is Joe Morgan.

"If you had Willie Mays and those guys with the attitude that they had playing now, you'd have that same awareness," Morgan said. "I don't say the players don't play hard. I'm saying that before, Willie Mays might play the whole game. Hank Aaron might play the whole game."

Mays went the distance in 11 All-Star Games and Aaron nine, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. When Carlos Beltran went all nine innings at Pittsburgh in 2006, it marked the first time a player had started and finished an All-Star Game since Ken Griffey Jr., Brady Anderson and Ray Lankford in 1997 at Cleveland.

Yes, there are probably times where a player may earn the right to play the entire game. But as we saw in 2002, the managers for each time seem to have this desire to make sure everyone plays in the game. I'm still somewhat irritated about the 2002 game where the managers had to make sure everyone got in the game, and when the game went extra innings, they had to cop out and call a tie. I understand WHY they called the game, but it should not have been an issue as there should have been at least one additional relief pitcher for each league available. If it was still tied after 12 or 13 innings, then you can call the tie.

The players are not noted for "playing" in the All-Star Game, they are noted for being "elected" to the All-Star Game. Obviously a player would prefer to play in the game and be in the spotlight, but I don't think it needs to be a requirement.

Morgan said having the game decide which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series, an innovation that began in 2003, doesn't help."

See bullet point above.

Unless the players buy into it, it doesn't matter what you say," he said. "You can say, 'This one counts,' you can say anything you want, but the players are the ones that make the game, not the marketing."

Yes, the drive to defeat the opposing league has waned over time, but I just can't place the blame fully on the players. The game has changed, the fans have changed, the owners have changed, the money has changed (OK, yes players are still paid in dollars, but they just get many, many, many more of them), TV has changed, the internet has come about, and so on and so on. The game IS an exhibition and with 500 channels and so much more available things to do, we should not be surprised that the ratings have declined. The Home Run Derby typically out draws the All-Star Game because it is more fun to watch. I don't know what can be done to raise the ratings for the All-Star Game, but we shouldn't be surprised by what has happened.

BTW - I am shocked that I did not see "consistent" or one of its variations anywhere in the article. Although, it could have been removed by the Tribune.

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Blogger Slut Bunwalla said...

I cannot overstate my satisfaction at seeing a "game of death" tag.

July 15, 2008 at 12:48 AM  

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