Sunday, January 31, 2010

Weekend Sports Edition: When The All Star Game Mattered

Miami has the good fortune of hosting, in the span of eight days, the NFL's most meaningful and meaningless games. The latter of course is the Pro Bowl, an event that is now on par with professional wrestling in the sincerity department. I would not be surprised to see an open bar on the sidelines hosted by Hooters. Perhaps for good measure, we could throw in mulligans for plays that need to be done over for dramatic effect. That the Pro Bowl is a joke is almost universally accepted, or at least should be. All sports all star games are now rigged gimmicks used to promote the product the way commercials are used as props for whatever merchandise is being hawked. In fact, we have reached a point where the tail is now wagging the dog: all star games are no longer competitive events but commercials for the league that is sponsoring them. But, alas, it was not always so. I remember all too well the 1970 baseball all star game. Pete Rose came barreling into home plate where Ray Fosse, the Indian catcher, was waiting for him, ball in glove. Rose ran over him as if he were an 18 wheeler crushing a VW bug at 80 mph. It was not a pretty scene. Rose made no apologies nor should he have. The thinking was if you are not going to play the game to win, why bother showing up. Say what you want about Rose. I would be the first to say that he was one of the biggest jerks ever to play professional sports and that covers a lot of territory. But he had a drive that is all too rare in today's athletes. In fact, the so called all star game is symbolic of what ails all professional sports: the pampered athlete who no longer has to worry about danger. In 1967, I believe Red Auerbach was ejected from the all star game for arguing with the refs. Imagine that happening today!

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