Not appearing tonight at baseball's All-Star Game: Derek Jeter, Jose Reyes, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, C.C. Sabathia, David Price and Albert Pujols.
Injuries can't be helped, but the mid-summer classic needs to be fixed. From last night's boring home run derby to tonight's exhibition, which will inexplicably determine home-field advantage in the World Series, baseball's All-Star gala is broken.
Charged with the responsibility of trying to win the game in order to provide his league an advantage come October -- remember Games 1 and 2 were at San Francisco's AT&T Park last summer -- National League manager Bruce Bochy filled out his roster not with Pujols, but rather third catcher Miguel Montero.
And because of a quirky rule in which pitchers who started Sunday can't throw on Tuesday (even though most of them will have bullpen sessions in Phoenix), American League manager Ron Washington will be without top arms such as Hernandez and Verlander. Jered Weaver vs. Roy Halladay for a couple innings should be intriguing, and we could see fireworks from Jose Bautista-Josh Hamilton-Adrian Beltre hitting back-to-back-to-back, but baseball's star-studded classic has lost its umph.
The game is such a bother, it seems, that Jeter is skipping it out of physical and emotional exhaustion. Lame.
The machinations have even the experts confounded as I swear I heard this out of the mouth of ESPN analyst Barry Larkin
"It's all about momentum, and the NL won last year."
Now, about that -- y-a-w-n -- home run derby.
It really can't get any better than Hamilton's display a couple years ago at Yankee Stadium. And he didn't even win the contest. But after that, we're spoiled. We've seen homers. Next?
Last night was a little different and sorta cool, with homers splashing into a swimming pool of bikini-clad hotties not far from where Santa Claus tried to fetch some balls, and with ESPN following the flight of balls with colored lasers. But at its core, it's players doing the same thing over and over: hitting the ball a long way.
I thought about comparing the derby to the NBA's slam dunk contest, but it's really more akin to the 3-point shootout, isn't it?
We can only take so much of Chris Berman's "Wow! He hit that one all the way to (insert adjacent town)."
Robinson Cano, a second baseman for crying out loud, won the thing with a final-round record 12 homers off his dad's pitching. But the event lacked a marquee moment. The slam dunk competition at least tricks things up, with stunts such as Blake Griffin leaping over a car.
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Baseball needs aluminum bats, blindfolds or maybe that game where you chug a beer, put your forehead on the butt end of the bat, spin around 10 times and then try to swat a homer.
Or maybe we could just watch Jenny Finch pitch to Erin Andrews all night.
This morning we were almost talking about another major fan injury at a park, as a guy leaning over a rail to catch a homer in right field fell over but was caught by his friends just in time.
Baseball needs a fix, not another fatality.