The Real Crisis in Baseball? The Uniforms.
Baseball's All-Star Game flopped. It began with pop singer Anastasia butchering the lyrics to the national anthem ("gave truth through the night …"). It ended with a 7-7 tie, after both teams ran out of fresh pitchers. And despite renaming the game's MVP award after Ted Williams, who had died the previous week, the league declined to present it. Fans responded by pelting commissioner Bud Selig with trash, forcing him to flee into one of the dugouts.
Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci wrote the best post-game column. Among his suggestions:
1) Force managers to leave starters in the game: Fans want to see the stars, not the compulsory Detroit Tiger or Tampa Bay Devil Ray stink up the park. In last week's game, Barry Bonds batted twice; Randy Winn, of the Devil Rays, batted three times. The best hurlers don't play much, either—of the last 28 All-Star starting pitchers, only one has thrown three innings.
2) Put something on the line: Verducci suggests that the winning league should get home-field advantage in the World Series.
3) Never, ever play the game in Milwaukee again: Miller Park's roof leaked during the Home Run Derby. A pre-game banquet was rained out and guests soaked because local organizers didn't bother to secure an alternate site. The post-game gala was catered with food straight from the "left-field bleachers surplus": bratwurst, potato chips, and cookies.
But no matter how much the fans whine about state of the sport, they're still watching the games. USA Today's Rudy Martzke reports that Fox's TV ratings for weekend games are up more than 12 percent over last season.
Sports police blotter: Last week the Philadelphia 76ers' Allen Iverson was charged with multiple crimes for allegedly forcing his way into an apartment and threatening the occupants with a gun. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Stephen A. Smith writes, "People who don't know Iverson will blame his travails on the arrogance of a rich kid who thinks he owns the world. Others closer to the situation—and Iverson—swear the problem is a couple of confidants who continuously convey bad advice."
Kevin McHale's weird response in the Los Angeles Times: "If Allen came to my house, he'd find out that I probably have five more guns than he has. And I'll put my marksmanship up against his any day."
Race car driver Al Unser Jr. was arrested last Tuesday with domestic battery after an alleged altercation with his girlfriend. ESPN.com's Robin Miller chides, "That freckled-faced kid who drove with such maturity and charmed everyone with his aw-shucks personality has become a lost soul of 40 whose past glories can't mask his current condition. Or the lines on his weathered face. Little Al has become a big disappointment."
Green Bay Packers draft pick Najeh Davenport was arrested last Monday for allegedly breaking into a college dorm room and defecating in a laundry basket. Davenport says the cops have the wrong man. His lawyer says Davenport must let the legal system "run its course."
The real crisis in baseball: The Village Voice's Paul Lukas laments the insidious force that's destroying baseball jerseys: the sewn-on nameplate. About half of major-league teams sew a player's name directly onto the back of his jersey. But teams like the Atlanta Braves insist on first affixing the name to a rectangular nameplate and then sewing the nameplateon. "The nameplate style is easier for clubhouse staffers to work with, but it looks like crap. Sometimes the nameplate is wrinkled or puckered, and it creates the impression of a patch, instead of a seamlessly designed garment. In short, it's the lazy man's approach, and it sullies the Braves' profile, no matter how many division titles they rack up."
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Bryan Curtis, Slate's "Middlebrow" columnist, writes for Grantland, Texas Monthly, and Newsweek. Follow him on Twitter.