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Senior Baseball Columnist

Want to keep MLB All-Star Game as a meaningful event? Don't tweet it


Brandon Phillips might enjoy tweeting during the ASG, but not everyone is embracing the idea. (US Presswire)  
Brandon Phillips might enjoy tweeting during the ASG, but not everyone is embracing the idea. (US Presswire)  

Hashtag: #Enough.

I'm changing dugouts, switching sides, calling a failed experiment for what it is.

I renounce my support for World Series home-field advantage being attached to the All-Star Game.

Twitter did it.

Not that I don't see value in Twitter. I do. Especially when Ozzie Guillen is at the control. For some reason, I love knowing that he loves shopping at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I was so sad when Guillen de-Twitter-ed. (Is that a word? It should be a word.)

Not that I'm anti social media. I'm on Facebook. I see its value. It allows us to learn things about our kids we'd never learn in a million years during dinner-table conversations ("So what about this party Friday night?" "I dunno." "Will Hannah's parents be home?" "I dunno." "Does Hannah even have parents, or did she hatch from a giant Slurpee cup?" "I dunno.").

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But, Twitter and Facebook as a part of the All-Star Game?

This is where I part ways with its attachment to the World Series.

At this point, why not just have the home-plate umpire text ball and strike calls after each pitch a week from Tuesday in Kansas City? Just add barbecue sauce and unicycles and the circus will be complete.

In case you missed the memo, here it is: Major league baseball is setting up computer stations near the dugouts and is encouraging players to Tweet and Facebook upon exiting the game.

The idea came from Arizona last summer, when players were allowed to tweet during the Home Run Derby, and baseball deemed it a smash hit.

Too much time in the desert without enough water, and now look what happens.

"At its core, baseball is a social activity, so it's natural that social media has become such a huge part of how fans enjoy the game today," Tim Brosnan, an MLB executive vice-president, said in a statement several days ago. "This initiative will bring fans closer than ever to their favorite players, resulting in what will no doubt be the most 'social' event in baseball history."

The whole "This Time It Counts" thing?

The effort to make the All-Star Game serious and meaningful?

Sorry, but you can't have it both ways. If you're going to tie this game to the ultimate competition, the World Series, then you absolutely can't treat this game as a 140-character mid-summer dip in the pool.

Here's the thing: A whole lot of people have hated the idea of attaching the World Series home-field prize to the All-Star Game ever since Commissioner Bud Selig introduced it within hours after the waterlogged fiasco that was the All-Star Game tie in Milwaukee in 2002.

Not me. Maybe I was in the minority, but I never saw a good reason why the All-Star Game had to be a meaningless exhibition in the first place.

It's always been, by far, the best All-Star game of any sport.

There is absolutely no reason why it shouldn't continue to be the best, if handled properly.

Which is why I was with Selig from the beginning on this. The All-Star Game does not have to be a meaningless exhibition. But that's what it was on its way toward becoming by the time of the Milwaukee disaster.

Because Orioles fans at the 1993 game in Camden Yards boxed Cito Gaston's ears with boos when he left Baltimore's Mike Mussina warming in the bullpen and never used him, subsequent managers turned the game into an adult version of one of the worst aspects of today's youth sports: Everybody plays.

Time was, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio played all nine innings at the All-Star Game (Williams did so in 1941, the year he hit .406).

In today's touchy-feely world, Williams would get his prerequisite two All-Star at-bats and then Skip would send Mario Mendoza up to bat for him in the fifth.

That's what I thought we'd be getting away from when Selig unilaterally attempted to re-inject the All-Star Game with meaning by decreeing that the winning league would get World Series home-field advantage. Good for him, I thought. People often criticize Selig for being too wishy-washy, or too slow to move. Well, he wasn't in this case, and I've always applauded him for it.

It absolutely was worth the effort to make -- or keep -- the All-Star Game relevant.

Now, this.

Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips is an All-Star player and, for my money, an All-Star Tweeter (@DatDudeBP). Dat Dude is drop-dead hilarious. But he leaves the game in, say, the sixth inning, and now maybe instead of picking up a subtle infielder shift and passing it on to an NL teammate, he's not even watching the game. He's locked in at some computer screen.

Extreme example, yes. Guys often aren't watching the game once they depart, anyway. They're socializing, or leaving the park early to catch a flight.

But at least there was a movement to return the All-Star Game to a serious competition.

This completely undermines that.

Bottom line is, if you're going to link something to a championship event, then it's all got to be treated -- not tweeted -- as a championship event. And not as simply another link to click.

Put this on Facebook: Baseball, at this point, should just return to each league getting World Series home-field advantage in alternate years and be done with the myth of "This Time It Counts." I'd tweet that, but it's too many characters.


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