Why do we have All-Star games again? So the best players in their respective sports can play a half-assed pickup game with no defensive effort required? Do people even tune in to watch these things? Adding insult to, well, further insult, the NHL and NFL have conspired to have both their All-Star games take place today. With the only other alternative being to watch the Raptors *shudder* they have more or less monopolized the sports offerings on TV this evening with their two exhibition contests.
Wait, did I say the best players? I meant the best players playing in the host city and those whose teams have the biggest fan-bases. These games aren’t even representative of the best their leagues have to offer. Take the Pro Bowl, now held before the Super Bowl, which by nature excludes the top players from the two Super Bowl participants–not to mention those conference championship losers whose hearts aren’t in it anymore. Mind you, the Pro Bowl is played in the off-season for the other 30 teams, and thus players are basically trying not to get hurt. Add that to the fact that they’ve only got a week to learn a new playbook and mesh with new teammates over hot-tub luaus, and you really don’t get the best competition that the league has to offer. It’s more of a week-long Hawaiian vacation for the players–which gives them a lot more incentive to take part than when they tried holding it in the Super Bowl’s host city. I mean, does anyone wanna go to Indiana for a holiday this time of year–or anytime, for that matter? Didn’t think so…
In that regard, I kinda feel bad for the NHL stars who’ve descended upon snowy Ottawa this weekend. While the rest of their teammates kick back on the beach or spend time with family, they’ve forced to take part in a Mickey Mouse exhibition for the league’s corporate sponsors and a few of its die-hard fans. That said, the Saturday nite skills competition is a decent idea, letting the players let loose with some sick moves and wicked hard slapshots. Hell, I’d say it’s more entertaining than the game itself. I mean, did you see Chara unleash a 109-mph rocket last nite? That was sick, wicked and nasty!
On the other hand, I think the NHL’s “fantasy draft” concept is kinda lame. Ultimately, you knew that Alfredsson would take all the Sens and the Swedes, while Chara would pick his Bruins teammates–and if there were any other Slovaks in attendance, he probably got them, too. Basically, I just see this as a way for TSN to get some ratings on a Thursday nite without hockey, and for the CBC to create artificial storylines (“The Sedins on separate teams for the first time evar! OMGZ!!!!1110) for a meaningless game. It don’t impress me much.
Y’know, I think baseball actually has the right idea, not only in keeping the traditional AL-NL matchup, but in giving homefield advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the All-Star game. I mean, it’s still not a real contest when you change pitchers more often than batting gloves, but at least it gives the players something to play for during the two innings for which they actually take the field. As for the NBA, well, if I ever were to obtain tickets to an All-Star game, I’d do my damnedest to start a “Defense” chant, just for the hell of it. Whether or not anyone else joins in, I don’t think it’ll motivate the players in the slightest. ;)