The Midsummer Classic

  • Share
  • Read Later

CLEVELAND: Baseball's All-Star game is the only one anybody pays attention to (quick, name who started in goal in last year's NHL game), and the only one where people remember who won. After years of almost comic futility in the midsummer classic, the American League experienced a brief Renaissance in the early '90's, winning six straight games. But for the past three years the game has once again been the Nationals' pastime, and they now lead the series 40-26-1. The usual suspects will start: Randy Johnson for the AL, Greg Maddux for the NL. Players like Ken Griffey Jr., Larry Walker and Tony Gwynn will thrill the fans even in a year where the uniqueness of the game has been diluted by interleague play. While the fans who select the starting lineups are commonly dismissed by players and reporters as know-nothings who turn the game into a popularity contest rather than a showcase for the best athletes, an informal Sports Illustrated survey showed the fans this year chose virtually the same lineups as the Major League team managers would have picked. And anyway, what do managers know? After all, Felix Jose (Felix Jose?) was a manager's All-Star pick just six years ago. Besides, quibbling about who should and shouldn't have been on the team (Paul O'Neil? What about Jay Bell? And why does half of the American League's starting lineup consist of current or former Seattle Mariners?) is a large part of the game's charm. And for the first time in five years, there's no threat of a players' strike or owner lockout looming over the game. So, for now, enjoy.