The All-Star Game is a staple of every major American sport. It doesn’t matter if it’s the National Basketball Association or the National Hockey League -- the purpose is about the same: Create high ratings by putting the sport’s biggest stars all on one stage. That’s not a bad premise; however, some sports just do it better than others. If you’re a sports fan, it’s not enough to just see the best players in the sport all on one playing field, it has to look like a real game, and if it counts? Hey, that’s all the better.

Major League Baseball just had it’s 82nd All-Star Game, and while the quality of this particular game is up for debate, there’s no doubt in my mind that baseball still has the best All-Star Game on the planet. I say that as a fan of every major American sport, and even some that haven’t quite made it yet (MLS, WNBA, hell yeah). Baseball quite simply puts together a baseball game that FEELS like a baseball game. The score of the last contest? 5-1; the score of the last NHL all-star game? 11-10. See my point?

The All-Star Game is supposed to be a realization of every sports fan’s fantasies, being able to see Alex Rodriguez play on the same team as Josh Hamilton, Roy Halladay to be relieved by Brian Wilson; and while all sports have that level of quality in their All-Star Games, in no league is it taken as seriously as MLB’s game. Why is that? Quite simply, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game means something; home-field advantage in the World Series for the league that wins the game. That’s something particularly important to me, as a Giants fan who saw his team sweep the two games granted them because of the National League’s All-Star Game win in 2010.

No other All-Star Game means a damn thing short of winning a Kia or a Honda or some fancy-ass Japanese car. I’m not even sure what happens in the NFL’s Pro Bowl; the game takes place the week before the Super Bowl, just in time for me to not give a shit about anything other than the Super Bowl. Besides, half the players flake out for one reason or another and the game ends up being a total shit-show; just like the NHL ASG and the NBA ASG. Baseball certainly has its’ dark or dull moments, and even this past All-Star Game wasn’t spectacular; but as a system, baseball has the best chance at success year in and year out because it gives high fan control, it means something, the players try, and the game feels like a real baseball game. That all adds up to a win for America’s past time, and a hearty loss for athletes who just want to screw around because they don’t respect their fans enough to give them a real game.

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