Remember when the All-Star Game meant something? I don’t either. There was a time when something impactful actually happened at these exhibitions, like the 1964 NBA All-Star Game, when the players threatened to not take the floor in the final minutes before tip-off unless a pension plan was hashed out by then-league president Walter Kennedy. Baseball used to be so enamored with its best players that it used to have two all-star games a season. As far as sports history goes, that might as well have been a Wilt Chamberlain’s harem-worth of years ago.
Baseball’s mid-summer classic was once the stuff of legends. Carl Hubbell didn’t need a telescope to strike out Ruth, Gehrig, and Foxx to get himself out of a jam. Pete Rose famously torpedoed Ray Fosse, and they’re trying to convince us that NOW it counts? How about Reggie Jackson’s home-run, the ball yet another entity leaving Detroit in warp-speed fashion. The modern version of baseball’s grand exhibition has given us rosters that coincidentally look plagiarized from the Mitchell Report or the infamous 2002 game, which was apparently played with soccer rules. A year later, MLB decided that the only way to ensure that “this time it counts” was to enable the winning league to garner home-field advantage in the World Series. I wonder if the Giants sent Matt Capps a ring, World Series share, or a Blockbuster gift certificate yet.
The NBA’s all-star bonanza has had its Magic moments (’92), but more or less, the only East versus (Delonte) West moments of any intrigue already occurred during the last offseason. If wearing sunglasses indoors or bling is your thing, then give it a watch. Prediction: East 170 West 168 (or vice versa). (Not shown: defense, interest.)