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All-Star Game shows what's wrong with baseball



Published: Fri, July 12, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



At any Little League game worth its salt, running out of pitchers is not an option. When the kids who pitch have thrown as many across the plate as their arms can handle, it's time to call on a fielder, or a third baseman or even the catcher, for heaven's sake, to finish the game -- unless the weather or on an unlighted field darkness intervenes. The coaches do not get together and decide to end the game with a tie.

In baseball, you play until the game is over -- unless it's the 2002 All-Star game, when the weather was fine and the lights still illuminated Milwaukee's Miller Park

But Major League Baseball has far more important things to worry about than a baseball game, especially for one that, apparently, counts for so little. If it doesn't really matter whether the National or American League emerges victorious from the heretofore summer classic, then it probably doesn't matter much who wins any of the games -- other than the players who expect big bonuses and the owners of the most lucrative teams.

We're not suggesting that when the score was tied after 11 innings of play A-Rod, or Mike Piazza or Sammy Sosa should have been called in to risk their precious arms. But if Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig could have stretched the rules to end the game in a tie, he could have stretched the rules to bring back a pitcher who had only pitched one inning of the game.

Future plans not retroactive

Now Selig is proposing that in the future, All-Star managers wouldn't need to play the entire roster or limit pitchers to one inning, but that doesn't help the millions who stayed up late to watch the game on television, or worse, paid $175 for a ticket.

Why should the fans matter any way? They only buy the increasingly expensive tickets and eat the over-priced hot dogs and drink the over-priced beer that allow players and owners to live the lifestyles most Americans can only dream about.

Yet neither players nor owners are satisfied, each group wanting a bigger share of a diminishing pie. And if teams go down the tubes-- Selig says two are immediately at risk -- because they can't afford their payrolls and stadiums as attendance and television revenues fall off, those left standing will cluck a few platitudes before returning to their own balance sheets.

And if this year's World Series is canceled because of a threatened baseball strike, Americans can find plenty of other entertainment choices on which to spend their hard-earned cash. At the rate it's going, baseball may find itself as America's past, rather than America's pastime.




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