Wednesday, July 14, 2010

All Star Game

For the first time in years, I watched the All Star Game last night, from beginning to end.

As a kid, the All Star Game was the highlight of my summer. If I had a little league game scheduled the night of the All Star Game I, along with the rest of my teammates, would eagerly race home in time for the first inning. I was allowed to stay up late to watch the entire game. It was just one of those little magical things that I remember from my childhood summers along with snowballs and lightning bugs.

Before the Internet and pay cable allowed fans to follow other teams more closely, the All Star Game was pretty much the only time I was able to see stars from other teams play, especially ones in the National League. It was a chance to see the players who's baseball cards I collected and who's stickers I coveted to fill out my baseball sticker books.

And when I was a teenager in the 90's, when the Orioles hosted an All Star Game in 1993 and regularly had good teams and star players, like Cal Ripken, the All Star Game was even more magical. I anticipated Ripken's and other O's players at bats. And I was proud to be an Orioles fan.

Most important, it was a chance to celebrate baseball, the game I grew up playing. Players played the game with smiles on their faces and it was a chance to just have fun.

But somewhere along the line, the All Star Game became less magical to me. I realized it was nothing but an exhibition game with no meaning. Interleague play killed intrigue of the AL vs the NL. And as the Orioles sank from one of the best teams in baseball to one of the worst, I became a jaded baseball fan...not just a jaded O's fan.

So when last night rolled around, I said "what the hell. I can record the game and fast forward through the prolonged introductions and commercials." And so I did.

The Orioles only representative was Ty Wigginton, who probably won't even be an Oriole next season, and he didn't even get a chance to bat in the game. But I still enjoyed a night of baseball when I could feel like a kid again and the players played the game with smiles on their faces and tipped their caps toward each other in the batter's box.

The game itself was a well-pitched affair, with the NL winning their first All Star Game since 1996. And while I think the winning team earns home field advantage in the World Series is silly, I do think making the game mean something is kinda cool.

But in the end, the game didn't matter. I just enjoyed watching baseball again without any jaded feelings from being a long-suffering Orioles fan.

For that alone, it was worth it.

No comments: