There were two things that basically comprised the entirety of the sports world on social media this weekend: Deflategate, and how much people hated the two All-Star games being played. At least Deflategate started as something that seemed real, so I can see how people could get hooked into that, but why all the hate against the NHL’s All-Star game and the NFL’s Pro Bowl? After all, their just exhibition games, right? Of course they are, but some folks don’t seem to understand that.
Decades ago these All-Star games were special as TV wasn’t inundated with sports 24 hours a day, and were often the only times fans could see some of these players in action. They played the games closer to as they would play any regular season or playoff game. One of the most well known highlights of Pete Rose’s career is him plowing over catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the 12th inning of the 1970 MLB All-Star game. Nothing like that would ever happen now, nor should it.
These All-Star games have turned into exhibitions so fans can see some of the current greats in their games participate in what is essentially a celebration of the sport. Three of the sports have it right in that these games should solely be about entertainment. The fourth, MLB, has decided their All-Star game will count to in determining home field advantage in the World Series. A moronic idea if you ask me, especially considering the baseball’s All-Star games were already the closest to “normal” game play as there was among the four all-star games.
Excluding baseball, there’s virtually no defense played in any of the games and that seems to annoy fans. Why? It’s great to see a goaltender make a nice save in the NHL’s game, or a blocked shot in the NBA’s, but as a whole I want to see the creativity of the offensive players in the games. We get enough defense in real games, so that’s why the All-Star games are all focusing on the offense. Heck, in the Pro Bowl there was hardly any tackling, it was mostly just soft take downs and allowing runners to move out of bounds. One play actually stopped before the runner was down and the whistle blew because there was three defenders just holding on to the ball carrier. Do you know why?
Because All-Star games aren’t real games.
I’ve only been to one pro All-Star game, and that was right here in Worcester when we were the hosts of the AHL’s All-Star Classic in 2009. I can tell you nothing about the actual game other than two WorSharks players, Derek Joslin for Team Canada and Ryan Vesce for Planet/USA, were in the starting line-ups. What I do remember is all the parties that took place around the event, including one that took place the after skills competition that years later is still talked about in AHL circles. But as for the game, most folks don’t remember anything about it except for bits and pieces that concern the players and teams they follow. It was all about the gathering and the parties.
And truthfully, why the hate about what is essentially a social event?