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Seeing All-Stars vs. all-stars

Thanks to hundreds of satellite or cable channels and the internet, the Mid-Summer Classic is now just a quaint, old-timey title for MLB’s All-Star Game.

Personally, I can only go back to about 20 years ago when WGN started televising a few White Sox games around its 150 Cubs games. It was new and fortunate to watch three or four White Sox games a month all the way in Virginia.

Go back longer though, but not very much longer, and the All-Star Game each July really was one of a few chances to see all the great players, even for fans in a big city, let alone most of the country.

Even for fans who attended games at Fenway or Comiskey or Yankee Stadium, go way, way back to the years before interleague play, and it was an honestly big occasion to see the other league’s stars. It’s still cool to see what happens with Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Josh Hamilton, but we saw it, and in a game that counts, three weeks ago.

Now, it’s nothing to see the Yankees, White Sox, Rockies and Dodgers in one night; or just flip on Sportscenter for 10 minutes and we’ll know what Albert Pujols, Cliff Lee, Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer and Evan Longoria did last night.

I won’t start down the World Series home-field advantage path, other than as while the All-Star Game supposedly means more than ever, it’s more likely than ever that an all-star pulls a hammy right after the last game before the All-Star Break or goes up for one at-bat then come out of the game. No pitcher would dare on an upcoming 6-year/$88 million contract to pitch more than two innings in an All-Star Game.

Closer to home, but still not on TV, at least not until we get to ESPN7 or Fox Sports Southern Virginia-Plus-Extra, are all sorts of Little League, PONY and other youth leagues’ all-star tournaments during the middle of summer.

Of course the big leaguers corner the market on physical ability. As far as being entertained in those categories, that’s why I flipped back and forth to watch some of last night’s game.

Kids have the pros beat in some ways though. Southampton/Sussex’s Mustang team went 3-1 in 20 hours from Friday evening to Saturday afternoon to win and play on to the next PONY tournament. I often hear from a source close to me that for a travel softball squad, four games in two days is a slow weekend. In a six-inning game, it’s also no big deal for a player to play right field, first base, pitcher and shortstop.

With the main incentives being to play as well as you can and winning, there couldn’t possibly be any more competition or effort put into the game.

As opposed to an exhibition game, once a team’s into district, regional or state tournaments, it becomes win the tournament and go on with another week or two of the season, or finish second or lower and the season’s over for the summer.

For the All-Star Game, the real season starts back up tomorrow with all of the all-stars back in action.