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David Freese and the Point of the All-Star Game


I'm keeping in mind the likelihood that most of what's kept me from doing a lot of All-Star Game arguing, over the last few years, is laziness. Moderation is mostly a good thing, but here mine is coming, in part, from a recognition that I have better things to do, like rewatch the second season of The Office. Whatever the reason, I'm not bothered, as some other people are, by David Freese making the All-Star team in particular or the Final Vote in general, with its ridiculously choreographed campaigns and hashtags.

I know why I'm being lazy, at least--it's been too long, now, since I realized that the All-Star Game was a flawed, often ridiculous way to honor baseball's best players, and I've lost the desire to lower my shoulder and charge into the same brick wall every year. Players can get into the game for a number of different reasons and in a number of different ways; they're chosen by position and team; it takes place in midseason, so we're left to permanently argue about the merits of choosing based on 81 games or 810.

This is just too much to overhaul; a "real" All-Star Game, one that took the best players and put them into consistent contact with each other for nine innings, would have almost nothing in common with the All-Star Game from which I used to try carving it.

The All-Star Game we have, the baggy one dotted with social media protuberances and cobbled together from multiple flawed methods of voting and selection, is designed to maximize entertainment. It has the biggest names, as of the night of the event; it offers fans of even the worst team a player to root for; it's combined with a home run derby and a celebrity softball game and even, as a sop to the hardest of hardcore fans, a minor league all-star game.

I think it's pretty good at this; I might hold the minority opinion, but I don't think making it a better honor would do much to make it more entertaining for me. I like the random Evan Meek appearances, I love the Home Run Derby, and I'm perfectly happy with David Freese being made an honorary regular-season star a year after destroying the postseason.

It's bad at being an honor, it's good at being entertainment, and it turns out that way, every year, because that's how it's designed. Unless baseball decides to make it a good honor--even if it's potentially less entertaining than it is now--it seems almost beside the point to get frustrated about the All-Star Game's continued failure to be something it isn't.