Overrated – All-Star games

Ned Bitters

This week’s inductee into the “Overrated Hall of Fame” is … the All-Star game.

Next Tuesday, millions of Americans will tune in to watch the Major League Baseball All-Star Game from Yankee Stadium, inducing hardons in the lite beer and fast food execs who paid beaucoup bucks to advertise their life-span-shortening blandness during the annual Summer Classic. More like Slumber Static, if you ask me. I’m betting that 90 minutes into the game, only 87 people will still be watching.

Is there a more overhyped sporting event than an all-star game? A network will promo the big game for two months, but the big game will unfailingly fail to deliver. Sure, every few years one of the games might provide a memorable moment (Mario Lemieux’s four goals in Pittsburgh … the John Kruk duck), but for the most part, the games just suck. Hell, when Pete Rose knocked the career out of Ray Fosse to score the winning run in extra innings in the 1970 All-Star game, I bet no fan in America was jumping up and down in his living room because “his” team won in such dramatic fashion. I’m betting the reaction was, “Well, that was kind of cool. Now put on Carson before he finishes his monologue.” At which point Carson gained 87 more viewers.

Hardcore sports fans should find these games more offensive than anyone. The main
reason we watch sports is for the intense, real competition between guys (yes, “guys,” because no one watches women’s sports) who hate each other for the few hours they are playing. Yet before and during all-star games, we are assaulted with images of our favorite genetic mutant millionaires smiling and gladhanding each other, no doubt comparing all-star bonuses and reminding each other not to play too goddamn hard so that no one gets hurt.

Each of the four major sports has an all-star game, and each of them sucks on a yearly basis. Let’s start with football. The NFL has always been the smartest of the Big Four pro leagues, so of course they are smart enough to barely bother trying to sell the snooze-a-rama Pro Bowl. They wisely hold it on the Sunday night after the Super Bowl, when most American males are footballed out and still nursing hangovers from the Super Bowl party at which they backhanded the wife after that horseshit kicker shanked the field goal that cost him two grand because he had 3 and 7 on his halftime block down at the Pub Lowlife.

Have you ever watched an entire Pro Bowl? Of course you haven’t. What’s that? You say you have? You’re a fucking liar. The only reason to even check in on the Pro Bowl is to see some tanned taut tits poking out of bikinis in the stands while you sit in your cold living room contemplating Monday’s drive to work through six inches of snow.

But the Pro Bowl still gets more viewers than the NHL all-star game. The set-up for pro hockey’s mid-season all-star gala changes every few years because the clueless NHL executives keep laboring under the delusion that some day televised hockey will take off in the United States. So of course, they dream up corny gimmicks that are supposed to jolt Joe 12-pack from Wichita (they grow ’em fat out there in the heartland) into seeing what a great sport hockey is, what with the unbearable tension created by having the World All-Stars play the North American All-Stars, or the East play the West, or the players with 12-inch cocks have at it with the lesser endowed superstars (sorry Mr. Ovechkin). And still, no one watches.

I’m a huge hockey fan, and I long ago stopped watching the NHL all-star game because it’s just not hockey. No one hits, and no one plays defense. If I want to see that I’ll tune in to a Cincinnati Bengals game.

The NHL also try to lure viewers with the much-ballyhooed Skills Competition, where players basically do things I could do in my driveway, save for the speedskating, which I also ignore every four years in the Winter Olympics. When the game’s over, one side wins 12-11, four goalies need post-traumatic stress therapy caused by an unchecked onslaught of shots, some already-rich superstar is given a truck for scoring six goals and all 13 viewers will wonder why they just wasted three hours of a winter Sunday afternoon.

These same lifeless ramrod viewers will waste another three hours of a winter Sunday the following week when they watch the NBA All-Star game. I’d like to crack wise about the folly of this game, but since basketball is the stupidest sport in the world, I don’t watch it. Ever. I’m not even one of the three bazillion Americans who like to say, with puffed chests, “I love college basketball, but pro basketball sucks!” All basketball sucks, and I’m sure the NBA’s All-Star game is just as pointless as the other ones.

Finally, we have the most popular of the all-star games, baseball’s mid-July extravaganza, two days of utter viewer torment, with breathless announcers trying to sell us on the entertainment value of the celebrity softball game, the old-timer’s game and – most tedious of all – the homerun contest.

If I want to watch softball – and I don’t … ever! – I’ll tune in and watch the thick-thighed titless wonders of the summer Olympics. If I want to watch baseball played by creaky, arthritic loads who can barely be bothered to bend over for a ground ball, I’ll walk down to the local sandlot and watch the pathetic pursuits of the over-40 men’s league. Or, I’ll just keep watching the Pittsburgh Pirates every night.

But nothing beats the Homerun Contest in the All Sizzle, No Steak sweepstakes. After about the fourth homerun, we pretty much get the idea, which is that some of these brainless behemoths have the ability to swat a juiced baseball, soft-tossed from a whopping 45 feet, a very long way, over and over again. One guy will do it 22 times. Another guy, the big winner, will do it 23 times. Yet bloated blowhard (and Hall of Fame of the Overrated charter member Chris Berman) still tries to charm us with his “backbackbackback” calls and his incessant yelping every time fellow fat fuck Prince Fielder hits another lobbed pitch into the bullpen. I bailed on last year’s contest after six minutes. I checked back after two hours and it was still on. And Berman was still screaming.

Finally, on Tuesday, we get to the game itself. However, before the game, we have to suffer through the annual version of “Let’s See if We Can Outdo Last Year’s Mega-Blowout-Pregame Ceremony.” One year they wheeled out a half-blind Ted Williams, and America was instructed to weep. (They had to wheel him out, as one foot was already in the grave.) Another year they paraded out the living members of baseball’s 50 Greatest Players of All Time.

I can only imagine what we’ll be assaulted with this year, since the game is being played at venerable Yankee Stadium during its final season. (If you are forced to sit through the game, here’s a drinking game you can play. Every time some cliché-addicted announcer uses the term “baseball’s cathedral,” take a nip. You’ll be pie-eyed, shitfaced drunk by the second inning.)

Since the Yankees have no shame (see: “Over Exploitation of the 9-11 Tragedy During the 2001 World Series”), they’ll probably treat us to something like this:

(Cue up the voice of legendary Yankees P.A. man Bob Shephard.)

“And now, fans, please direct your attention to the pitcher’s mound for tonight’s ceremonial First Pitch, where one of Mickey Mantle’s old whores will throw one of Lou Gehrig’s petrified diseased balls to a mummified Thurman Munson, who was exhumed especially for tonight. Mr. Munson will try to catch the legendary testicle with a catcher’s mitt made out of Marylin Monroe’s well-preserved vulva, which still has the semen stains of Yankee Clipper Joe Dimaggio. And as an added twist to the first pitch tradition, Alex Rodriguez will try to hit the pitch using not a bat but instead the petrified penis of one George Herman “Babe” Ruth. And one lucky fan will win one million dollars if A-Rod can hit the ball not on the sweet spot, but with the Babe’s herpes sore, which is still visible on the Sultan of Swat’s Bronx Slugger.”

Forty million people will see this spectacle. But only 87 will see A-Rod ground out with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Because all-star games suck.

Ned Bitters is, in fact, overrated. You can contact him at teacherslounge@hobotrashcan.com.

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