MLB All-Star Game 2013: The haters guide to the All-Star Game, the pointless years

Bruce Bennett

Like a zombie, the All-Star Game shambles on, not realizing it is dead.

Game 46 (1975) at Milwaukee County Stadium, Milwaukee: NL 6, AL 3

The NL took a 3-0 lead into the sixth inning, but Carl Yastrzemski, playing in the 12th of his 18 All-Star games, hit a three-run homer off of Tom Seaver to tie the game. The NL loaded the bases off of Catfish Hunter and Goose Gossage in the top of the ninth. Cubs third baseman Bill Madlock hit a two-run ground single to left field for two runs, and Pete Rose added a sacrifice fly for the final run of the inning. Mets lefty Jon Matlack pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Matlack wasn't a great pitcher for long, but he was coming off of a great 1974 season in which he pitched seven shutouts. No pitcher in this century has had more than six.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger threw out the first pitch.

Game 47 (1976) at Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia: NL 7, AL 1

In the Bicentennial year, President Gerald Ford threw out two first pitches to a smattering of desultory applause. Rookie sensation Mark "The Bird" Fidrych started and got pasted -- Yasiel Puig should be thankful he got to stay home, because spotlight turns for rookies tend not to work out very well.

Game 50 (1979) at the Kingdome, Seattle: NL 7, AL 6

Pirates right fielder Dave Parker took game MVP honors by going 1-for-3 and throwing out two runners, including Angels catcher/outfielder Brian Downing at the plate in the bottom of the eighth to preserve a 6-6 tie. The tie had come about due to a pinch-hit home run by Mets center fielder Lee Mazzilli off of the Rangers' Jim Kern. Mazzilli had an odd career, with excellent seasons from 23 to 25 and then just nothing, though he hung around as a pinch-hitter and utility player for another 10 years. He came up again in the top of the ninth and worked a bases-loaded walk off of Ron Guidry, who had been warming up approximately since the first inning and came into the game with nothing left.

Game 52 (1981) at Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland: NL 5, AL 4

With the players on strike from June 12 to July 31, the All-Star Game had been cancelled. When the dispute was settled, the game was brought back as an enticement to the fans. Cleveland Stadium was huge, seating over 72,000. Fans filled the building and seem to have come largely to express their displeasure with the returning strikers. Note the booing when the players are first announced. Listen also to the way Joe Garagiola oversells "Baseball is back!" when Indians manager Dave Garcia is introduced. In the game itself, the AL blew 1-0 and 4-2 leads thanks to Gary Carter's two home runs. Mike Schmidt added a two-run shot off of Rollie Fingers to ice the game. Bruce Sutter closed out the game for the NL. Sutter made five All-Star teams, pitched in four straight (1978-1981) and picked up two wins and two saves, throwing 6.2 scoreless innings. He allowed just two hits.

Game 53 (1982) at Olympic Stadium, Montreal: NL 4, AL 1

The National League won its 11th consecutive game. Reds shortstop Dave Concepcion got the game MVP award for hitting a two-run shot off of Boston's Dennis Eckersley in the second inning, but consider Rickey Henderson, who went 3-for-4 with a stolen base and scored the AL's only run. That was just one of a number of pieces of hardware that Henderson failed to receive during his career.

Game 54 (1983) at Comiskey Park, Chicago: AL 13, NL 3

For its 50th anniversary the All-Star Game returned to the place of its birth, a stadium the White Sox were desperate to leave. The game was all American League, with Reds righty Mario Soto (a terrific pitcher for a number of years, mostly for bad teams), Giants perennial DL candidate Atlee Hammaker, the Braves' Pascual Perez, and Cubs closer Lee Smith getting hit hard. The big blow was by Angels outfielder Fred Lynn, who hit the first-ever All-Star game grand slam off of Hammaker. Lynn made nine all-star teams and hit .300 with four home runs in 20 at-bats. This was the AL's first win in 12 games, or since 1907.

Game 55 (1984) at Candlestick Park, San Francisco: NL 3, AL 1

Pitching was the highlight of the game. In the top of the fourth, Fernando Valenzuela whiffed three future Hall of Famers, Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson, and George Brett. Mets rookie Dwight Gooden came on in the top of the fourth and got three players who weren't bound for Cooperstown, but were quite good nonetheless: Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon, and Alvin Davis. Lemon is another guy who has been more or less forgotten, but he was basically the Torii Hunter of his time. I guess we know what Torii's place in history is going to be. Appropriately, Carl Hubbell, who had struck out five Hall of Famers in a row in the 1934 game, had thrown out the first pitch.

Game 56 (1985) at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis: NL 6, AL 1

Jack Morris started and lost for the AL; no doubt he was just pitching to the score. Parenthetically, Dave Stieb, the real pitcher of the 1980s, made seven all-star teams. Morris made five. Stieb started two and went 1-1, allowing one run in 11.2 innings; Morris started three and went 0-1 with three runs allowed in 10.2 innings.

Game 57 (1986) at the Astrodome, Houston: AL 3, NL 2

Roger Clemens, not pitching to the score, hurled three perfect innings. Brewers lefty Teddy Higuera, whose arm would give out all too soon, followed with three shutout innings of his own. Pitching in relief of Dwight Gooden, Fernando Valenzuela struck out five in three one-hit innings. Gooden allowed a home run to Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker, another of those 80s greats who has just slipped between the cracks of history.

Game 58 (1987) at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum: NL 2, AL 0 (13)

An interminable game that went 12 scoreless innings before Jay Howell, who had no business being on the team that year, coughed up a two-run triple to Tim Raines. Howell had a pretty good career, perhaps with the aid of a bit of pine tar from time to time, but his presence on the team was purely as a sop to the hometown fans. Dave Winfield played all 13 innings and came up sore after, causing Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to rant ineffectually.

Game 60 (1989) at Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim: AL 5, NL 3

Former president and long-ago sportscaster Ronald Reagan made a game attempt to call part of the game with Vin Scully, which was demeaning to either Reagan, Scully, or both. Bo Jackson led off the AL part of the game with a home run off of Rick Reuschel. In the rush to canonize Jackson, Wade Boggs' home run, which immediately followed, was rapidly forgotten. That tied the game at 2-2, but the AL took the lead in the third on Jackson's RBI groundout. Bo added a stolen base that inning to become the first All-Star with a home run and a stolen base in the same game.

Game 62 (1991) at Skydome, Toronto: AL 4, NL 2

Special-category All-Star Game: First played outside the United States in a hotel that had a ballpark around it under a dome. Or something like that.

Game 63 (1992) at Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego: AL 13, NL 6

Not as close as it looks.

Game 64 (1993) at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore: AL 9, NL 3

Remembered primarily for John Kruk's less-than courageous at-bat against Randy Johnson, though Gary Sheffield, Kirby Puckett, and Roberto Alomar hit home runs.

Game 65 (1994) at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh: NL 8, AL 7 (10)

A back-and-forth game that went to extra-innings when Atlanta's Fred McGriff pinch-hit a two-run homer off of Baltimore's Lee Smith in the ninth. The game was so exciting they cancelled the rest of the season.

Game 69 (1998) at Coors Field, Denver: AL 13, NL 8

Though cable television, interleague play, and the internet were rapidly conspiring to make the All-Star game completely redundant, the game shambled on like a zombie, not knowing it was dead... The Yankees were approximately 81-0 at the time, but no member of the team made the starting lineup.

Game 70 (1999) at Fenway Park, Boston: AL 4, NL 1

The last All-Star Game. Ted Williams, old and nearly blind, was driven onto the field to make the ceremonial first pitch. There was a game after, but the real event was watching the apotheosis of Williams. He was surrounded by the greats of that moment (as we understood them) and honored by them as their king. If it didn't bring tears to your eyes, you aren't human. There was no greater expression of the game's continuity, also what it meant to be the greatest hitter of all time. After that, there was no need to play the game, or any All-Star Game, ever again. Not only will we never again see the likes of Teddy Ballgame, who though a difficult and flawed man was an American hero both on the field of play and the field of battle, but thanks to the way Major League Baseball and its players have handled the advent of chemical athletics and their aftermath, we will never again have the pure sense of admiration with which Williams could be appreciated. See, for example, Chris Davis. That being the case, why bother?

See the video below beginning at the 35-minute mark.

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