“I disliked the All Star Game before it meant something (like most of my life). Now that it ‘means’ something I both hate it and think it is useless.” ~ our friend Jay
Who hates a vacation? Our friend, Jay.
Baseball is a 162-game, six-month undertaking. (Eight months, if you count spring training and if you are good enough to make it to the post-season.)
Tucked into that stretch is a four-day break that includes the All Star Game. That little baseball vacation begins Monday.
Our friend Jay is a Red Sox fan. He hates the All Star Game because it temporarily stops the “real” baseball season. But, he does have lots of very good qualities, too.
I am pretty sure that I am a baseball fan because of him. I sat next to him at the very first major league game I attended. It was some 25 years ago.
I have been pestering him with baseball questions ever since.
He always responds. Patiently. Kindly. Wisely. (If you ask him how to throw a screwball, he will provide detailed instructions. If you ask about baseball broadcasters he will rate nearly every one. The Red Sox broadcasters are ranked quite highly, incidentally.)
Jay plays. Jay watches. Jay knows a lot about baseball.
Occasionally my questions stir him up.
Like when I asked about the All Star Game.
For me, I like the mini-vacation. I like watching the All Stars (especially when five of them are Orioles). It’s a long season; I don’t begrudge the players a tiny break at this mid-way point.
But, Jay thinks …
Well, here, he’ll tell you …
Baseball is an endurance contest — 162 games in six months. And then, in the middle of that we give players (making $16 million or even a paltry $1 million) four days off to go fishing and rest up? What’s that all about?
The greatest thing about baseball is that they play every day (and sometimes twice — in what other sport do they say ‘Let’s play two’?) But, no, the All Star Game says, “We pause from this important season to bring you this unimportant game.” (And, no, having it determine home-field advantage does not mean this is for real. If it was for real Clayton Kershaw would pitch seven innings.)
The touchstones for me for baseball are the “Morning Question” – how did the Sox do last night? – and the “Afternoon Question” – who is pitching tonight? I look for the box scores in the paper every day. How many games up (or behind) are we? … All winter I wait for baseball season to start so I can go through my daily baseball rituals — and then in the middle of July they stop it.
[Former Red Sox] Manny Ramirez’s grandmother used to “die” each year at All Star time so Manny could go home to grieve with the family. My attitude is like Manny’s Granny’s – “Who cares about the All Star Game? Nothing important is happening so I might as well die again this year.”
(Jay is exaggerating … but here’s the back story on Manny. And, here.)
The best thing about baseball is that there is a game every day, so let’s play. (That is why I hate days off, rain outs, and All Star Games.)
These are just the highlights. Jaylights.
But, I’m feeling sort of bad that Jay will have to endure the next four days without baseball while the rest of us are watching the Home Run Derby (Monday) and the All Star Game (Tuesday).
So, here are some things that can pass the time until the season begins again on Friday:
1) Watch NY Giants Pitcher Carl Hubbard strike out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmy Foxx in order. It was 1934 at the Polo Grounds. It was the All Star Game. Watch it here.
Or, watch Babe Ruth hit the very first homerun in the very first All Star Game in 1933. Watch here.
2) Explore the arts. Mike Carmichael of Alexandria, Indiana has been painting a baseball – coat by coat – since 1977. The baseball now has more than 23,000 layers of paint and weighs more than 4,000 pounds. If you visit, he’ll let you paint a layer on the ball. See it here.
Perhaps the baseball in your garage is artwork in the making.
3) Learn a second language. Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth speaks fluent Spanish, allowing him to chat easily with his Latin American teammates and give interviews to the Spanish-speaking press. While most foreign-born players must learn some English to get by in the game, very few American players take the time to learn their teammates’ languages. Nate es maravilloso. Click aquí.
4) If you can’t watch baseball, play it. In Nicaragua, baseball is El Deporte Rey, the king of sports. NPR’s Only A Game recently had a story about a camp in Nicaragua that allows boys and girls a chance to slip away from the hard realities of poverty for a week of baseball. “[T]his chance to play on a real field coached by a real professional will make a beautiful memory. And even in wealthy countries, beautiful memories aren’t easy to come by.” Listen here.
Jay is my baseball guru (except for that Red Sox thing). He has a blog too. Although he only updates it when he goes to baseball camp each winter. He should keep it up year-round. Visit it here and pester him to write more.
Enjoy the All Star Game (or not). “Real” baseball resumes on Friday.
Thanks, Jackie, for raising long dormant fond memories. Both my parents were baseball fans (they first met at a kitten ball game in Sioux Falls, SD). I remember them in conversations, sometimes with heat but mostly with laughter, between themselves and with friends about many of the great players, including one Carl Hubbard.
Thank you, Gloria! I love baseball memories … thank you for sharing!
I like the All Star break. Kind of like I enjoy holidays, they help map out the year ;-)
I agree! Plus, I like having a few days off in the middle of the season to catch up with other things that have been neglected since March. I’ll be ready to go again on Friday!
I sort of agree with your buddy. While the traditionalist in me is all for the game itself, how stupid is it to have it in the middle of the season? Way to perform for half a season and be an all star! What if the player tanks the rest of the year? If the all star game were after the season were over, then players who have nothing to play for but the extra money in their contract for making the all star game would still play hard instead of phoning it in by late August.
This was especially relevent with the consideration of Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers who only got called up in June. While fans seemed excited to see him (but not excited enough to actually vote him in!), the players who were asked were much more lukewarm to the idea, saying he hadn’t earned it.
So, I think you’re on to something. Between 1959 and 1962 there were TWO annual All Star Games and I always assumed it was so one could be held at the end of the season. But, that would be too easy … I checked in alittle further only to find that the two annual All Star Games were held less than a month apart from each other! It had nothing to do with choosing All Stars and everything to do with making some more money. (Having two games would generate more money to pay into the players’ pension fund.)
I think you’re right … while I like a break in my baseball year, calling these guys All Stars when there still is a lot of season left seems a bit premature.
Living in Yankee territory, I just gotta think “what if one of them gets hurt tomorrow night?”
Injuries have happened during All Star Games. The most famous incident was when Pete Rose bowled over catcher Ray Fosse to score a run in the 1970 game. Fosse was injured and was never the same player after that. Here’s a story about the incident: http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/Cincinnati-Reds-Pete-Rose-Cleveland-Indians-Ray-Fosse-collision-home-plate-1970-All-Star-Game-070412
I saw Joe Torre interviewed last night and he went out of his way to emphasize how important it is for the All Star managers to take care of the pitchers on the roster so that no one gets hurt or thrown out of “sync.”
Even though it determines home field for the World Series (there is no advantage), I catch the highlights of the All-Star Game the next morning. I do watch the home run derby. Everyone needs a vacation, Jay, regardless of pay. Too much has changed in baseball… and not for the better. Wrigley Field (25 years of lights come 8/8/13) is adding a Jumbotron. If they touch that scoreboard, there’s going to be outcries from Sheffield and Waveland. I guess they have to block one across-the-street view to make more money while “they still sing the blues in Chicago.”
I like the purity of Wrigley Field. But, I still would like to see them consider a mascot for the team. After all … they are the CUBS! They’re tailor-made for a warm and fuzzy cute mascot.
I am going to appreciate my little break in the baseball year. Having a few days off helps me really appreciate the games when they come back. And, as I told Jay the other day … this break in the season doesn’t SHORTEN the season. You still get 162 games (or hopefully more!) … it makes the season longer. It shortens the wait between this season and next season, which will come 4 days sooner! :)
I absolutely agree that everyone needs a vacation — for baseball players that is October, November, December, January, and February (except for the lucky ones who lose their October vacation month to play in the playoff and World Series.) Oh, and another one in the middle of July.
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