In June Major League Baseball teams launched their team-centric All-Star Game marketing campaigns. Last week team’s stepped up their PR as the deadline closed in Thursday night. The effort generated a single-day record 3.8 million votes. But, for all the hype and hometown pride, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is pathetic.
Major League Baseball invites you and I — the fan — to vote for players on their favorite team. Pick your All-Star team. Watch your favorite players in the 2012 All-Star Game. Why? So their favorite player can graciously decline the offer. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Fans vote because they want to see their favorite players play. In recent years, despite being voted to their respective All-Star team, more and more stars are responding with “thanks, but not thanks.”
All-Star apathy reached new heights last year as 16 players (poistion players and pitchers) were replaced. Derek Jeter was voted the starting shortstop in the American League but declined the offer claiming “fatigue.” Jose Reyes, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and Placido Polanco all declined to appear despite being voted by fans of the game as starters.
Most position players claimed injuries precluded their ability to appear. If it’s a legitimate injury, understood. Truth is, the All-Star break is an opportunity for a four-day break; a chance to spend time with family and recharge the the batteries for the second half of the season. An All Star selection is great; playing in the annual All Star Game is not important.
If today’s MLB players don’t value the All Star Game, why should fans? Why should we spend our money attending the pre-game events, buying tickets and merchandise or watch a game featuring players we didn’t vote for? Explain to a fan what the value is in voting? If a fan votes for Player A and Player A is selected to be the starter at his position, what are the chances the Player A actually appears and starts in the All-Star Game? 50/50?
Despite the final vote, the conversation about who will and will not play in the 2012 All-Star Game.
“I’ve got to pitch here before I pitch anywhere else, to be honest with you. I have to do what’s best for us and if that means, if I even make it, not pitching in the All-Star game, then so be it. It would be cool but I know we’ve got more important things going on.”
Matt Kemp, who has spent the last two weeks on the disabled list, said he’d love to play in the All Star Game. The Los Angeles Dodgers said not so fast. With the Dodgers leading the National League West, a healthy Kemp is critical to the team’s chances to make a run in October.
Give MLB credit, they’re trying everything to build excitement.
This is not your grandfather’s All-Star Game when the lead-up began and ended with the pre-game player introductions on the first an third base lines. It’s now a three-day event. The starters are now announced during a one-hour selection show. The pre-game festivities continue with interactive events and the annual Home Run Derby spectacular. On game day, Major League Baseball rolls out the red carpet — literally — when ESPN hosts the players arrival in Hollywood-like style. Then, finally, the All-Star Game.
By now, you’ve seen the “I Will Win” and “The Road to October starts here” promos reminding fans of the Game’s value. In 2003, MLB attempted to add value and incentive to play and win the annual All-Star Game. The prize: the winning league is granted home-field advantage in the World Series.
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Looking for a reason to watch? Try Joey Votto.
The Cincinnati Reds first baseman led National League All-Star voting with 4,475,180 votes. On his blog, Cincinnati Reds beat writer John Faye noted: Votto is a virtual lock … this will be Votto’s third All-Star Game but it will be the first time he’s voted in as a starter. If Votto’s lead holds he will join Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Ken Griffey Jr. as Reds who have won the overall NL vote.
That — all that — matters to Votto, who said:
“That would an enormous deal for me. It means a lot. For the fans to think I worthy of garnering so many votes is a great honor. If I win the NL vote, it will be one of the cooler things that has happened for me.”
As a baseball fan, Votto makes you want to vote. He is passionate about the game of baseball, its history and tradition. Votto is on a very short list of reasons to actually watch the game.