In case you may not have heard, the American League beat the National League 5-3 on Tuesday night and secured home field advantage in the World Series. That wasn’t the whole story though.
Cardinals fans know full well that their two guys, Adam Wainwright and Pat Neshek, surrendered all five runs in their two innings of work. The bigger story, and one that local Fox 2 news and the National Baseball media ran with, was something concerning Wainwright and his comments after his inning of work.
Waino told a handful of reporters that he grooved a few fastballs to Derek Jeter and gave him a few pipe shots. Jeff Passan tweeted it out and the fireball came down on Waino in all directions. This came under fire with the rest of the National League fanbase and various groups of baseball diehards as a man giving away an inning to respect a retiring legend. New Yorkers fumed and started screaming about their guy getting a pass. Later on in the game, Waino literally tracked down Erin Andrews to not only take back his earlier statement but to also NOT burn the bridge he formed with the sports writers in that chat. Waino didn’t blame the media because he knows the game and the way its played.
When you say something, it can spread like a wildfire and it did. Waino is a first class individual and didn’t mean to give the impression that he was grooving juicy fastballs to Jeter(whether he did or not). A grooved fastball would only be a giveaway if Ex-Cardinal pitcher Garrett Stephenson threw it up there.
With regards to what Waino said and the aftermath, here’s my take.
This incident puts into a nutshell everything that is wrong about the All Star Game and how it counts in the game of baseball.
The All Star Game isn’t fun anymore. As a crazy mad man once told a legendary comic book hero, Why…So…Serious? Why do we have to make this midsummer classic so intense and serious? Don’t the teams play 162 games that are supposed to be serious and a handful of teams play even more serious games in the playoffs. Why is it so wrong to have one game out of the year be a fun fest for the fans and the players?
It would be state of the art class and cool if Waino stepped to the mound, held up the deuce grip on the ball and fired in a hook to see if Jeter could hit it. Imagine Craig Kimbrel telling Jose Bautista that the flame is coming towards home plate. Giancarlo Stanton stepping into the box and Felix Hernandez glaring in with a juicy heater.
The fun part of the All Star game was taken away when it started to count.
I took a few shots at Passan and other media types this morning and should have held back. Here is why. It’s not their fault. They are reporters. They report stories. Good and bad. Passan took a quote from Wainwright and put it on Twitter but said on the same account that he wished the game wouldn’t count. That’s the point. Why does the All Star game have to count?
Remember when it was both leagues meeting on a field to play one game. An exhibition game. The best players in the game on one field. When the pressure to raise the stakes on baseball caught up, Bud Selig placed this gigantic weight on the game and squeezed out all the pleasure of watching it.
It’s nice to see players on the field smiling and having some fun. The giants of the game. The fan’s team. People debate the idea of fans voting for this game because it now determines so much. The reality is fans deserve to vote for the starters in the All Star Game because they make the game great. The game simply shouldn’t count for anything other than a fun exhibition.
In the past I have stated that the game counted and everybody just has to roll with it. I have never supported the idea of it counting and if I did, I wasn’t thinking straight. The All Star Game could have been a cool sendoff to Jeter and now people will always think about the Waino grooved fastball and Passan’s reporting of it and the rest of the media running with it.
As an unofficial member of the media, I am here to report that when Bud Selig steps down as Commissioner, the first item on the docket for the new Commish should be changing the rules of the midsummer classic. Let the team with the best record in baseball determine which league gets home field in the World Series. Give it to the league with the best overall interleague record. Make it something else other than one game.
Allow the All Star Game to be the one fun game during the season. Why not? What’s wrong with that? Trust me. They will play hard. Put a group of men on a field and testosterone and pride will surface and win over any given day. The players won’t laugh it all up. They will swing hard, throw heat and make their best dive in the field. It will be intense but in a lighthearted way.
As The Joker told Batman and the population of Gotham(before trying to blow it all up), why so serious?
The perfect ending to this firestorm would be The Cardinals and Yankees meeting in the World Series and Waino getting another shot at Jeter. When it counted.
Now that would cool, serious, inspiring and a little more than just fun. That would be good old fashioned baseball.