Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gainer's Thursday Thrashing: All-Star Games

I remember growing up and loving the All-Star games.  What happened?  Long gone are the epic dunk contests of MJ or Vinsanity, the amazing home run derbys of Griffey or Bonds, the smooth skating of Gretzky or Lemieux, and no one ever watched the Pro Bowl.  As a child, you loved watching all the best players get together and just do what they do best.  Now, it seems childish and the players care even less.

I’ll talk about these in chronological order as they happen in 2012.  

First is the NHL.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE hockey.  It’s my favorite sport.  I love watching my Pens and catching a Blue Jackets game live.  But watching their all-star game is brutal.  High flying offense and no goalie effort = blah.  The skills competitions leave a lot to be desired because it’s not that exciting.  They’ve tried to mix it up with the players picking their own teams.  In fact, I watched for the first time in years last year because two team captains were selected and they picked their teams.  It was cool!  In my opinion, keep this unique feature alive but couple it with the Winter Classic!  It’s already the marquee event of the season, let’s make it one heck of a weekend for the sport.  It would go a long way.
I almost didn’t even bother thinking about what the NFL Pro Bowl is and has become.  Let’s face it.  Nobody watches this thing.  Only the players like it because they get a free trip to Hawaii except for last year when it was in Florida (how dumb is that?).  NFL is trying to make it relevant by squeezing it in between the Conference Championships and the Super Bowl to have football in an off weekend.  Here’s a clue NFL, you already eliminated some of the best players because usually they end up in the Super Bowl.  The skills competition is pretty cool because football drills are exciting.  Let’s just ship ‘em to Honolulu and forget the game, it’s a waste.  In fact, let’s just name the team. 
The NBA all-star game, like the previous two, is just a backyard pick-up game.  So many dunks and high flying passes it’s outrageous.  However, it’s still fun to see all the best players get together and go crazy athletic on everyone.  NBA has probably the most exciting skills competition with 3 point shooting, passing, and dunks.  Unfortunately the stars don’t participate as much as they used to.  I mean LeBron is arguably the best player in the game and he’s never been in the dunk contest.  Last time I checked, MJ won a couple.  Why?  Because he cared about the game.  Good job Blake Griffin for manning up last season.  The NBA ranks third of the 4 major sports but it’s probably the best overall all-star weekend for fun and excitement.  Get some legit participants and you got a nice weekend!
Major League Baseball, who do you think you are?  Listen, I get it.  You wanted to make the midsummer classic relevant.  But why put World Series home field advantage on the line?  The fans still vote on the starters so you aren’t even guaranteed to have the most deserving players on the field.  I would keep arguing but then I realized it’s an ALL-STAR game, it shouldn’t have a meaning.  It should be fun like the home run derby.  The home run derbys have been pretty good the past few years but I think a lot of people are still turned off by the steroid era.  The game is already pretty good because it’s hard to slack off for this game when the players only play an inning or two.  Bud Selig, you’re a joke.  Retire already and don’t make me hate you for 2 more years.  I’m ticked because my favorite Atlanta Braves are risking injury on July 10th for a game they are most likely not going to play in.  Screw that.

These obviously were just suggestions and/or my viewpoints.  However, if it was up to me, I wouldn’t have them at all.  It really only benefits the players already inflated egos and the home city that gets to host the game.  Fans still vote a lot of the starters so most guys getting the nod don’t even deserve it.  I’m all for the media getting together at the end of each season and naming the all-star teams.  Sure you lose all the fan fare and excitement but if it’s so important, how about we take it seriously?  On that note, I’d still keep the skills competitions for each because that’s where each player gets a chance to showcase his individual skill.  Just don’t play the games, you’re just wasting my and the players’ time.

Just like Happy Gilmore taught me...