A Bone to Pick: All Star Games

Okay, so I’m a huge nerd and feel like I need one or more recurring segments on our blog.  This one will be called “a bone to pick” because I tend to be a hater of things in sports that quite frankly, suck.

With the NHL’s ASG a few days away, I feel the driving need to speak loudly about how wonderful it is to watch the NHL game compared to EVERY other All Star Game. 

So some background:  This originally was going to be a history of “All Star Game” article in good spirits, but the first article I read (wikipedia) about the MLB All Star Game noted the following:  “Also known as the mid-summer classic…” and I lost my shit.  What the hell is that about?  Last I checked, a classic is a game that is actually watchable over and over and over because of some big moment or milestone that is reached.  I still get butterflies watching some moments I lived through.  As a Yankee fan – and partly thanks to YES – I know that a classic is like Reggie’s 3HR game, Russell Earl Bucky “Fucking” Dent’s HR game, the Gator’s 18 K game, etc.  Not some crappy exhibition that really, really sucks to watch.  I actually sat through last year’s MLB ASG for the first time since I attended at (the real) Yankee stadium.  It was  awful to see on TV.  Being there in ’08  truthfully did make it exciting, especially with the 15 inning game that went on until 2:30 AM (and meeting Cal Ripken Jr., my idol as a kid, at the St. Regis hotel earlier in the day didn’t hurt).  It is a great event to ATTEND.  Unfortunately, Bud Selig decided to “make it count” in a shameless attempt to raise viewership.  This is a travesty to baseball.  For years fans have argued that the World Series home field advantage should switch from “alternating years.”  However, no one meant, “Hey dillweed, let’s make it the ASG that decides this.”  I seriously can’t believe that a game I hold so dear to my heart, my favorite game to play growing up, and such a long standing American tradition, is disgraced by making a game that should be about the fans and honored players (by honored I mean favorite rather than actually belonging and good, because not all fit into the “deserving” category at these things either) actually an important day in baseball.  Wouldn’t it suck to be the Royals, send 1 guy to the game every year, and then have lightning hit your entire team, giving them superpowers to win at home, actually make the world series, and find out that the fact you don’t have home field advantage is because the lineup stacked with Yankees, Red Sox, and (insert other popular AL team here) didn’t win a FUCKING EXHIBITION? 

I’m sweating from typing so fast.  It really angers me, so I’m going to move on from the MLB.  Bud, I have a bone to pick with you.  You ruined the sport since you’ve been there, and I don’t even care much anymore about turning your head to the steriod abuse that was rampant during your tenure, although I was mad at first.  Your contract extension is a joke.  I hope owners really don’t like you and it is more of “I’d rather have the evil I know than the one I don’t” at this point.  I get you’re a decent businessman, and have made owners richer, but your appreciation for the sanctity game is questionable.  I’m sorry, I will never get over this decision.  You could stop fake birth certs, rid the game of PEDs, and add a wildcard 1 playoff game to see who hits the post season, and all I will ever remember you for is the guy who decided an exhibition game should decide home field advantage.  Oh, also the guy who won’t let Pete Rose in the hall of fame, but that is another story you douche. 

OK, time to relax.  I shouldn’t let my blood pressure climb so high at 10AM.  I’m going to talk about the NFL.  The Pro Bowl may be the biggest joke of all.  Moving it to the week before the “big game” has done almost nothing for its popularity.  Other than Sean Taylor’s hit on Brian Moorman, there is no real playing in these games.  I’m at work with no access so I can’t link to it and be sure it is a good view of it, so go ahead and YouTube it, I’ll wait.  Trust me it is worth it.  How about the big sport Brian is.  His shattered bones are all over the field, and he gets up like nothing happened.  I’m sure he felt it for days though.  Anyway, what makes football for me is good defensive play and the hits.  No one wants to start next year rehabbing a torn ACL from the pro bowl.   Without it, it is simply a game of flag football.  I have played in better street games.  I can watch people play catch with receivers at a practice just as well.  Another game and another gimmick used to try to make it popular by moving it BEFORE the super bowl.  Please.  You know, I’d rather watch the QB skills challenge than the Pro Bowl – I wish they wouldn’t hide the airing of it on ESPN 8 – “The Ocho” at 5AM. 

Which brings me to my next ASG I hate.  The NBA.  First off, I haven’t truthfully liked the NBA since Patty Ewing was shooting his pretty hooks and fades and John Starks was… well missing big layups.  Not since it meant something other than “I sat near Spike Lee once at a Knicks game.”  Not since the hated Michael Jordan was dropping 55 at the garden like it was his job… well I guess it was.  I’m pretty sure current MJ can score 55 on the current Knickerbockers defense as well… what a travesty.  And 82 points the other night?  With that “talent?”  Please… call up 33.  Anyway, that is the most current I’ll get on basketball maybe ever – enjoy it if you’re a fan.  What was the question again?  Oh right, the ASG.  What I DO like about this game is the skills competition.  Unlike the home run derby, it is kind of fun to watch (at least the highlights) big dunks (which to be honest was great as a kid, not so much anymore), amazing streaks of 3 pointers, and the rookie vs. sophs game.  I dig that concept.  Unfortunately, the actual game is trash.  Not because it is meaningless, because it is basketball.  Disclaimer:  I may carry a bias.  I don’t need to see Kobe put up 30 in a defenseless All Star Game when I can watch him play the majority of teams in the league that also don’t play defense.  I am a fan of the pure sport.  Call it because I was a good defender and rebounder growing up.  Call it because my handle on the ball was often sloppy.  Call it because my jumpshot wasn’t too pretty (I held my own on the scoring end, but it just wasn’t nice looking – I am selling myself a little short though).  I like college basketball.  Two 1 seeds playing in the final four.  Or heck, anyone other than a 1 and 16 playing in the NCAA tourney – that is the game I want to watch.  The pros stink.  Their ASG is just an excuse to try to play even LESS defense.  Earn your millions guys – make the sport fun again.  Play defense.

Ah finally.  So why do I love the NHL All Star Game?  Heck, even the whole all star break.  They have a skills competition with events simply geared towards “who’s fastest?” or “who’s got the hardest shot?”  The regular season is a grind, especially as a NYR fan, I know.  At times  for the casual fan, it can be quite boring to watch.  As a fanatic, I do love the 1-0 game that ends with a 6 on 5 pulled goalie and an offensive firestorm that King Hank snuffs out before letting a single puck over the goal line against 35-40 total shots.  I love the 1-0 game that involves a 5 on 3 penalty kill executed to perfection.  I’m obviously referencing last year’s regular season win over the Wester Conference champs, the Canucks, as it was the best hockey game I think I’ve ever been to, and it ended 1-0.  But even for me, the die hard fan that loves breaking down stats and plays, can get bored watching this style of hockey on TV.  The NYR 3-0 win the other night, their last game before the break, against a much inferior team, was an eye gouger.  The Rangers simply sat back and played rope-a-dope… ALL GAME.  I love the win, but there’s not games like this is Boston.  The Bruins usually blow out inferior opponents.  Offensive games.  We simply bleed them out.  ANYWAY, my long winded loving brain even knows this is way too long winded to simply say I like the NHL All Star Game.  I’ll get to the point you can see I’m headed at.  The game is an offensive one.  There is something pretty about when highly talented players have open ice and space to work with due to the lack of contact.  It is incredibly fun to see a perfect pass right on the tape of one’s stick, or a sick breakaway move, etc.  While you may argue, people dunk and ally-oop all the time at the NBA ASG, I just think it is a waste of time.  My ugly layups count the same as your dunks with unnecessary moves before you “throw it down big man.”  They’re all pre-packaged.  The cool part about hockey is that everything can look so perfect, the pass, shot off the blade of the stick, not too high or low, and a goalie is there to rob you while having to seemingly stand on his head to do so.  While the game to me didn’t need to be changed, all of these games are dipping in popularity.  So instead of East vs. West – we get a game of pickup!  They actually draft teams as of last year.  Talk about the feel of street… I love it.

I will wrap this up.  Simply put, if you are a casual fan of the NHL, this is my plug for the ASG coming up.  The skills competition is awesome.  The pride these guys have about their talents really shines through when you see someone nail 4 targets at the corner of the net in 4 straight shots.  You try hitting one out of 5 shots, and then tell me how the hell they do it in incredible speed.  The game itself is always fun too.  It is a finally relaxed with no bad blood or dirty play – just a good spirited hockey game.  While it is nothing like the pure game I love to obsess over, it does provide the most rewarding break from any of the other 3 sports I recently bashed.  And even better… it doesn’t count for shit.

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