Part of me really doesn't want to watch the All Star Game. Part of me would prefer to maintain a sort of cool, hipster, too-good-for-this level of disinterest and just say that I read about it in the papers the next day. But come on. Of course I'm going to watch it, and my reasons have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it determines home field advantage in the World Series. Are you hearing me, you MLB front-office executive weirdos? I'd watch the stupid thing even if it had zero impact on the season, just like I always used to even when it didn't.
I'm going to watch the game because at heart, I'm still that seven-year-old kid in his first year of tee-ball whose only exposure to the mythical, legendary greats of the game was sifting through the previous year's collection of Topps baseball cards. Here's a Steve Garvey. There's a Mike Schmidt. I'm hanging onto these Roger Clemens and Dwight Gooden rookie-year cards because I'm pretty sure they're going to be worth, I don't know, at least $75 in a few years, and do you understand that I could use that money to buy new cleats, a new pair of batting gloves, and maybe even a real wooden bat that looks exactly like the one Alan Trammell uses?
The men in suits who run MLB just don't get it. The underlying principle behind the All Star Game is enough of a draw to attract the fans, because it taps right into those crazy childhood notions, often discussed with friends while riding bikes and loading up with giant wads of Big League Chew: "Oh maaaan, what if you could have a team that had Don Mattingly, Wade Boggs, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Dave Winfield on it?" Then would come the debate, always conducted during the commercial breaks that interrupted the latest episode of Thundercats, as to whether Mike Scott was better than Bret Saberhagen, or whether Jose Canseco could beat up Andre Dawson.
I still remember the pure astonishment of discovering that such a thing as the All Star Game even existed. It was like Baseball Christmas, this magical, once-a-year event when all of the best of the best of the best of the freaking BEST would be on television, like, RIGHT THERE on a locally-accessible television network. It was a reason to start making X marks on the calendar and counting down the days. It was the sort of thing that made you get to mowing the lawn early, because it wasn't enough to make sure you were in front of the TV in time for the first pitch, you had to catch the opening ceremonies where they introduced the starters and -- this cannot be stressed enough -- faces formerly frozen on glossy pocket-sized cardboard suddenly became real, living, breathing persons that moved across the screen.
I may have lost some of that initial awe over the years, especially in my mid-to-late teens, but even now, as I look at the finally-announced opening lineups -- Trout, Altuve, Jones, Harper, Posey, McCutchen -- there's still some of that old excitement. Granted, I'm probably getting a bit of extra adrenaline rush in a vicarious way because I have an 11-year-old son who still finds it fun to daydream about the Ultimate Baseball Team, and who is excited to see what happens when you, for real, pit Baseball Batman against Baseball Superman and see who wins out.
So who cares about that weird all-Royals scandal? Who cares that this game actually impacts the postseason, which is the stupidest thing in the history of stupid things? It's the freaking All Star Game, man! Rip open a fresh pack of grape-flavored Big League Chew and enjoy the show.