Changes in the sport and society at large have made the mid-summer classic less and less relevant
Tonight is Major League Baseball's All-Star Game.
Let's set aside, I suppose, those players who are honored by the designation and who actually show up without pleading injury or other commitments—and the far larger number of non-All-Stars who get to enjoy a mini-vacation in the midst of the season's six months of games and travel. And also, at least in theory, the teams that will eventually win the American and National League pennants but who are unknown and unknowable of course at the moment—the teams that eventually make it to this fall's World Series where home field advantage will be determined by the league that won tonight's game. But it's hard to care about something that will only matter more than three months from now and that may not affect you at all.
But for the fans? It just doesn't seem to matter—as falling television ratings show—down by two thirds since the late 1960s and by half over the last 15 years alone—more than attest. And trying to make the game mean something by introducing the home field advantage payoff for the winning league in 2003 has clearly failed to stem that continuing decline. Last year's game attracted two million fewer viewers than the one in 2002—the infamous game that then acting commissioner Bud Selig called a tie when the teams ran out of players in extra innings.