The Major League Baseball All-Star game, which takes place Tuesday night in Phoenix, is an exhibition actually worth watching, primarily because of the longtime American League-National League rivalry.
Sure things have changed a bit because of interleague play, but the rivalry remains strong because the league that wins the All-Star game earns home-field advantage in the World Series.
The MLB All-Star game, which is being played for the 82nd time, has more tradition, more importance, and more entertainment value than any of its counterparts.
The NBA All-Star game can be entertaining, but it’s mostly a mediocre impression of the Harlem Globetrotters for three quarters before settling into something resembling a competitive basketball game.
The Pro Bowl? Well, the NFL discarded the final pretense of this being a serious event a couple of years ago when it excluded the players from the two best teams by moving the game to the week before the Super Bowl.
The NHL All-Star game? At least give our ice-skating friends credit for creativity, adopting a fantasy league format by having the captains of each team draft their teammates from the pool of all-stars. Creative, yes. Compelling, no.
These all-star events can best be judged by what endures from each. In baseball, how about Carl Hubbell striking out five future Hall of Famers-Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin-in a row?
How about Stan Musial turning to Yogi Berra in the bottom of the 12th inning and saying, “Let’s end this thing,” then ending it with a home run?
How about Pete Rose bowling over Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the bottom of the 12th?
And what about Alex Rodriguez moving from shortstop to third base so Cal Ripken Jr., in the farewell of a Hall of Fame career, could move to his signature position, then Ripken hitting a homer and winning MVP?
What’s the most memorable moment from an NHL All-Star game? You got me.
What’s the most memorable event from a Pro Bowl? I don’t know, maybe that Ray Guy punt that hit the now-extinct gondola in the Superdome?
The NBA? OK, so Magic Johnson returning from his HIV-induced retirement to win MVP in 1992 stands out, but that’s about it.
On top of all that, the Midsummer Classic, which annually arrives during the dog days of summer and the sports calendar, stands out even more this midsummer.
Tiger Woods is not competing in this week’s British Open because of lingering injuries. Even Woods’ absence can’t make The Open insignificant, but it’s less significant than it would be with him.
Sure the Tour de France is going on, but the only drama there doesn’t show up until the apparent winner’s drug test comes back, whenever that is.
And we still don’t know when NFL players will be allowed to show up for camp.