The crack of the bats, the roar of the crowd; yes, the media-aggravated summer rioting season is upon us, which means baseball’s annual All-Star Game can’t be far behind. Also known as the “Midsummer Classic” or the “Tuesday Night Pretty Little Liars Pre-empter”, this contest between the stars of the American and National League teams is played on the second or third Tuesday in July, and signals the symbolic halfway point of your favorite team’s losing season. Starting players are chosen by the fans, using ballots distributed at Major League games and something called “the internet”. Managers choose the pitchers while managers and players choose the reserves, and the game of baseball itself chooses the managers, as they are the leaders of the teams from the previous season’s World Series. Once all of the sides have been picked and the leftover skinny guy with the cheap plastic glove goes home crying, the home team is chosen using the time-honored baseball tradition of grabbing a bat and moving up the handle to see who reaches the knob first. The game is the only meeting of players of both leagues during the year, aside from the World Series and interleague play, and possibly bumping into each other leaving closed-door performance-enhancing drug hearings.
It’s the Super Bo… Excuse me; the “Sensational Basin”!
Flying Cars and the Non-St. Louis Arch
The original ticket price was about $1.65, which may seem cheap today, but at the time of the Depression could have purchased a small farm consisting of two pigs and a field of dust.The game was the brainchild of Chicago sportswriter Arch “Not The St. Louis One” Ward, who, in 1933, thought it would be nifty, if not really swell and possibly even keen (remember, this was the 30’s) to feature a game played between the stars of the two current leagues. The first game was held as part of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair (Official Motto: “Believe Us; Flying Cars Will Be Here Any Day Now!”) and was a huge success, with tickets from the game selling for $19,136. In today’s money, that is; there is only one known unused ticket left, and that’s how much it sold for on auction. The original ticket price was about $1.65, which may seem cheap today, but at the time of the Depression could have purchased a small farm consisting of two pigs and a field of dust. In honor of Ward’s contribution, the “Arch Ward Trophy” is given to the All-Star Game player whose first and last name contain the exact same number of letters, while the most valuable player receives the conveniently named “Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award”, inexplicably named after Ted Williams, one of the leading British show jumping riders of the 1950s and 1960s.
The Home Run Derby
The night before the All-Star Game a Home Run Derby is held, where long ball hitters get to see if their steroid injections are paying off. Ha ha, players! Just kidding! Don’t come beat me using your freakishly huge arms! Actually, the derby is an exciting chance to see eight of your favorite fence-swingers exhibit their batting prowess, while hundreds of dedicated baseball fans pack the stands to see if they will be one of the lucky ones to take home a cherished bit of baseball history and immediately post it on eBay (**RARE** ACTUAL 2015 HOME RUN BALL MUST SEE!!!!!!!!!!). Four players from each league are tossed rubber-armed Grandma pitches by a flinching, screen-protected pitcher, and given 10 outs per at bat to see how many pitches they can hit over the fence, or, in extreme cases, into low orbit (see: “freakishly huge arms”, above). Gold balls are used after the sixth out, with money given to charity for every home run hit with them, which to me seems kind of a scam, because gold is pretty heavy and probably just breaks the bats. The winner of the derby receives a trophy which looks like pair of TV rabbit ears made from baseball bats and is named after… well, nobody just yet, probably because sponsors spent all their money paying for those gold balls.
So at this years’ All-Star break, relax and enjoy the spectacle of your favorite multi-millionaire players getting a $50,000 bonus for hitting two grounders to shortstop. And for all you pre-teen girls: relax; Pretty Little Liars will be back next week.