By Ray Boyd
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Tuesday night’s MLB All Star game had plenty of meaningful moments. The majority of those moments had to do with Derek Jeter who was ceremoniously playing in his 14th and final MLB All Star Game.
One of those special moments was Jeter’s leadoff double off Cardinal’s ace Adam Wainwright. That all too perfect hit was Jeter’s way of saying goodbye to professional baseball on a stage that garnered the attention of all sports fans around the country.
That moment was quickly clouded with controversy and regret. Wainwright spoke with reporters following the hit and said ““I was going to give him a couple of pipe shots. I didn’t know he was going to hit a double, though, or I might have changed my mind. I thought he’d line a single to right, or maybe a ground ball.”
In our social media driven world, Wainwright was immediately called out on social media for the claim and during an in-game interview Wainwright said that his words were poorly picked and that he did not mean what he said.
It is a shame that Derek Jeter had his night clouded by this controversy and the back and forth about whether or not to believe Wainwright. However, the blame being placed on Wainwright in this situation is not fair.
The finger is being pointed in the wrong direction. Wainwright is not the one to blame. Major League Baseball caused the controversy that ruined Jeter’s moment.
We all know that the MLB made the decision in 2003 to make the All-Star Game the determining factor in deciding the team that gets home-field advantage in the World Series.
That decision took the game away from being what it is supposed to be, which is a pure exhibition. How can you truly call it an All-Star ‘Break’ when the players are being asked to play in a game that could determine the fate of who wins the World Series?
In the last 28 years, 23 of the teams that won the World Series had home field advantage. Luckily for Phillies fans, the 2008 Phillies were one of the few exceptions. No team has accomplished that since them.
We can argue over whether or not Bud Selig and the league made the right decision in making the game count for something. Whether the move was right or not, Major League Baseball has executed it completely wrong and that is how incidents like last night’s happened.
The league’s stance towards the game is quite confusing. Several aspects of the event point to it being a pure exhibition.
Every team is represented in the game. If you want to put together a team that is made up of the best players from each league, there in no way should be a representative from every team.
There is an unwritten rule to play everyone. In a meaningful game, players like Mike Trout wouldn’t come out after a few innings despite hitting the cover off the ball early in the game. It’s hard not to feel bad for the players and the managers. There is a veil of unneeded pressure that reigns over a game that should be a reward and a break from the grind of the season.
What incentive does a player on a last place team have to go out and give his best in the All-Star Game? It is an idealist mindset to think that that player is going to be motivated to help out a team that actually has a chance to go to the World Series.
What Wainwright did would not have been wrong at all if the MLB All-Star Game was an exhibition like it should be.
If Selig wants the game to have meaning, there should be no rule for representatives from every team, the fans should not be allowed to vote for the players, there should be no pitchers there on mandated pitch counts from their team and there should be no ceremonious pauses to honor players for their careers. The irony in all of this is that if they insist on the game having meaning, players like Jeter shouldn’t be on the team. The team should purely be the best players with the best current numbers.
The exhibition side of things is what is missing from the Midsummer Classic. What happened last night happened because of a league that is confused about what they want their All-Star Game to be. It would have been a purely special moment if the whole thing was just for fun as it should be.
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