All-Star Game Is Hype, Not Substance
ALSO: HOW DEAN STONE GOT ALL-STAR GAME WIN WITHOUT THROWING A PITCH
IBWAA members love to write about baseball. So much so, we've decided to create our own newsletter about it! Subscribe to Here's the Pitch to expand your love of baseball, discover new voices, and support independent writing. Original content six days a week, straight to your inbox and straight from the hearts of baseball fans.
Did you know…
Entering play Friday night, the once-moribund Baltimore Orioles have 10 straight wins and were over .500 (45-44) for the first time in July or later since 2017. The O’s have a 26-man payroll of a paltry $32 million. Eleven players on other clubs make more than the entire Orioles team and their two top-paid players make one-third of Mike Trout’s Angels salary. Even in 2005, the 2022 Baltimore payroll would have ranked next-to-last . . .
Robinson Cano may be 39 but says he can still play, proving the point with two hits and two defensive gems at second base in his Braves debut Monday night . . .
Jesse Chavez just made the first balk of his 15-year career — and it cost the Braves a run in their Wednesday debacle against the Mets . . .
Mets slugger Pete Alonso is seeking his third straight Home Run Derby crown — with its million-dollar payday — but will have formidable first-round opposition in division rival Ronald Acuna, Jr. of the Braves . . .
Wander Franco, the star Tampa Bay shortstop, will miss eight weeks after hand surgery . . .
The best active consecutive-games playing streak ended at 553 when versatile Kansas City speedster Whit Merrifield missed a game earlier this week . . .
Hard to believe this is the 30th anniversary of A League Of Their Own hitting movie theaters . . .
Speaking of female teams, the Colorado Silver Bullets — once managed by Hall of Famer Phil Niekro — played their final season 25 years ago . . .
Tyler Gilbert (Diamondbacks) and Reid Detmers (Angels) both needed more time in the minors after throwing no-hitters in the majors.
Baseball All-Star Game Needs Competition, Not Commotion
By Dan Schlossberg
Before it descended into commercial chaos, the All-Star Game used to be a big deal — a true competition between players and leagues who met only in the Midsummer Classic and World Series.
But inter-league play and an unquenchable thirst for dollars destroyed all that, with fans entrusted to vote for starting lineups and watch a home run competition that can’t hold a candle to the old one-on-one Home Run Derby, a black-and-white, interview-laced series ironically filmed at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles.
The 92nd All-Star Game is back in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers get to host for the first time in 46 years, but is accompanied by a Futures Game, celebrity softball game, red-carpet show, All-Star car caravan, and Play Ball, a centralized way of selling merchandised overpriced because it contains the All-Star logo.
If baseball truly cares about its fans, it would schedule the All-Star Game for a Sunday afternoon when its newest fans — ticket buyers of the future — can see the entire thing from start to finish. The current night game starts too late, lasts too long, and ends after most of the potential viewing audience is counting sheep.
The bigwigs in network television should realize that two-thirds of the U.S. population lives east of the Mississippi River. That means a game that runs long after 11 p.m. EDT is a game that loses its audience in increments in various time zones.
Things like inter-league play also killed interest in the All-Star Game. The leagues used to take pride in winning the game but that was before MLB merged the umpiring staffs, added inter-league games in 1997, and turned a once-competitive game into the equivalent of a spring training exhibition.
The situation will worsen next season when there will be even more inter-league games under a new schedule that is completely balanced, with every team playing every other team. Divisional and league alignments won’t matter much and that’s just wrong — bad for baseball and bad for baseball history.
On the plus side, the All-Star Game gives fans a chance to see the game’s best players in action at the same time. Getting rid of the rule that mandates representation by each of the 30 clubs would help, of course.
Unless he becomes an injury replacement, former MVP Freddie Freeman — now in his first season with the Dodgers — won’t represent his team on its home turf. But fellow first baseman C.J. Cron will because the last-place Colorado Rockies need to stake a claim to the game.
Also absent are former strikeout champion Zack Wheeler [Phillies] and fellow pitcher Kyle Wright [Braves], at last look the leading winner in the National League.
Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor, a former All-Star who didn’t make the team this year, has been out-performed this year by AL All-Star Andres Gimenez, the key man moved by the Mets to the Indians in the Lindor trade.
Sensational Seattle rookie Julio Rodriguez, a no-brainer All-Star, should be fun to watch after reaching 15 homers and 20 steals in 81 games, faster than any previous player in the history of baseball.
And ex-Dodger Corey Seager, now with the Texas Rangers, will be replacing George Springer on the roster, making him the only All-Star among the 16 players who signed nine-figure contracts during the off-season.
Covid-19 killed the 2020 All-Star Game, along with most of the season that summer, and curtailed some of the best festivities, including the lavish media brunches where writers, baseball heroes, and even uniformed mascots mingled over bagels and coffee before their daily schedules started in earnest.
I’m glad I got to go to a few before they disappeared into the dustbin of history.
I’m also glad I got to try Dodger dogs the last time I went to Chavez Ravine; not only has the ballpark concessionaire ordered peanut vendor Roger Owen to stop tossing bags to buyers but they’re now dealing with a possible All-Star Game strike.
As we said during the 99-day lockout, the only strikes in baseball should be between the white lines.
Former AP sports editor Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has covered the All-Star Game since 1972. During that half-century of Midsummer Classics, he’s seen Hank Aaron hit an All-Star homer in Atlanta and witnessed the only inside-the-park homer (Ichiro) and only grand-slam (Fred Lynn) in All-Star history. Dan’s e.mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dean Stone Won an All-Star Game Without Throwing a Pitch
Guest Column by Bob Ibach
Dean Stone was an American professional baseball player, a pitcher who appeared in 166 games over all or parts of eight Major League Baseball seasons.
The well-traveled, 6 ft 4 in, 205 lb left-hander played for the Washington Senators (1953–57), Boston Red Sox (1957), St. Louis Cardinals (1959), Houston Colt .45s (1962), Chicago White Sox (1962) and Baltimore Orioles (1963). He also played one season in Japan for the Taiyo Whales (1964).
Born in Moline, Illinois, Stone graduated from United Township High School in East Moline prior to entering baseball in 1949.
Stone had a claim to fame as was the winning pitcher of the 1954 All-Star Game, although he did it without retiring a single batter.
At Cleveland Stadium on July 19, he entered the game with two out in the top of the eighth to face Duke Snider with the American League behind, 9–8.
Red Schoendienst, the base-runner on third, tried to steal home and Stone threw him out at the plate. The A.L. then scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth and won the game, 11–9, as Virgil Trucks hurled a scoreless ninth to save it.
That's how you win a game without facing a batter. (Great way to win a barroom bet – try it sometime.)
After having pitched two minor-league no-hitters in 1952 and going 8–10 with a 3.33 ERA for the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern Association in 1953, Stone reached the big leagues.
His first appearance was in relief against the Detroit Tigers on September 13, 1953. He would go on to pitch the majority of his games (60%) in relief at the major-league level.
In 1954, his only season as an All-Star, he won a career-high 12 games, lost 10, and had an earned run average of 3.22. In his other seven years, he had a combined record of 17–29 with a 4.91 ERA.
Stone was a member of the expansion Houston Colt .45s of 1962. He pitched a three-hit shutout against the Chicago Cubs in Houston's third game (April 12), then another shutout against the Cubs one week later, giving the Colts a 5–3 record.
But he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Russ Kemmerer on June 22.
The Baltimore Orioles acquired Stone during the off-season, and he made his last major-league appearance on June 21, 1963.
Career totals include a record of 29–39 in 215 games pitched, 85 games started, 19 complete games, 5 shutouts, 52 games finished, 12 saves, and an ERA of 4.47. In 686 innings he struck out 380 and walked 373. He had a batting average of .088 in 170 at-bats with one home run.
And now you know the Stone cold truth.
Bob Ibach is a Chicago-based sports publicist who used to be the publications and public relations chief for the Cubs. His e.mail is email@example.com.
“I’m always concerned it gets watered down and becomes like the other sports where the playoffs are such a long ordeal.”
— Arizona Diamondbacks closer Mark Melancon on the expanded postseason
Confusion reigns: the top two divison winners in each league will get first-round byes in the 2022 playoffs and await the survivor of the top two wild-card qualifiers in the Division Series . . .
The Super Shortstops of the past free-agent class — Carlos Correa, Javy Baez, Marcus Semien, Trevor Story, and Corey Seager — collected a combined $885.3 million but hardly justified the expenditures . . .
Correa and Xander Bogaerts could join another class of Super Shortstops led by Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, and Andrelton Simmons . . .
Speaking of shortstops, San Diego may send Fernando Tatís back to the outfield again when he returns from a fractured left wrist . . .
Dusty Baker’s Houston Astros are hoping to land in the American League Championship Series for the sixth straight season . . .
Atlanta rookie Spencer Strider may be the hardest-throwing starter in the majors.
Know Your Editors
HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [firstname.lastname@example.org] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [email@example.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [firstname.lastname@example.org] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.