What Baseball has Going for Itself

The NFL and NBA are both currently in a lockout setting the stage for Major League Baseball to be the premier sport to talk about in America today. In a time where the biggest football story is how anti-romantic Roy Williams is for mailing in a proposal to a former Miss Texas, baseball has a chance to be what everyone is talking about from July all the way through October. The major story about the NBA is how the lockout will affect the 2011-2012 basketball season, or if there will even be a season next year. With the all-star game just around the corner, Major League Baseball will be the most talked about spectacle across the sporting world, and the only things that prevent that would be a Brett Favre comeback, or LeBron James taking his talents anywhere else.

Major League Baseball's all-star game has the biggest impact on the season more than any other major sport, because it determines who will hold home-field advantage in the World Series between the American League and the National League. The All Star game is where players the average sports fan may never have heard of can become house hold names such as Texas Rangers' outfielder Josh Hamilton who became a fan favorite across the country on his record setting first two rounds of the home-run derby. No one even remembers that Hamilton failed to win the Derby, but was by far the biggest story of the night. An event such as the Home Run Derby is great every year, and is viewed just as much as the actual All Star game. Not only is the derby fun for everyone, but it never seems to lose its glory, because love to see home runs and could probably watch them again and again to see where the player is going to hit and how far, and if they will hit enough to remain in contention. In comparison to the NBA's slam dunk contest I would argue that the home run derby is more entertaining. The derby features stars from multiple teams who people have known for a few years like the Prince Fielder and David Ortiz, and the players that currently lead the league in the category of home runs like one Jose Bautista. Basketball, on the other hand, does not have the same star power in its slam dunk contest, and is losing its lust among viewers. The biggest star in the dunk contest last year was Blake Griffin, who carried the load as far as star power goes for the slam dunk contest, and there was no question that he would end up the victor of the competition. Even if he didn't, people would still remember him dunking over a Kia and scaring the life out of the entire Clipper front office that he would injure himself. Baseball has the star power across the board and is non-stop entertainment with story line after story line for the hitter and even the pitcher. Also, in the derby, players can only hit 10 non home runs until they are finished with their at bat for their round, whereas in the slam dunk contest players have upwards to 5 minutes to complete one single dunk. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing Dwight Howard fly through the air with a superman cape on to throw the ball in the rim, but the slam dunk contest has become more and more about props, while the home run derby is still a competition to see who can hit the ball into the cheap seats over and over and over. Players don't make a name for themselves in the slam dunk contest, but they do in the home run derby. Josh Hamilton made a name for himself by finishing second, does anyone remember DeMar DeRozan? He finished second behind Nate Robinson in 2010 in one of the most boring slam dunk competitions I've ever seen. With the derby around the corner, and baseball in the spotlight, this derby has the chance to be the most viewed of all time and be the most talked about thing for a while.

The best thing about the MLB All Star Game is that players are picked by the fans and by the players. So if the fans only pick off of what they know, the players are there to make sure those who are most deserving of an all star selection are able to achieve that. Now, it is still about the fans, because they are able to pick the starters for both teams, but they do not hold all the power like they do in the NBA. Remember that Yao Ming was selected to the all star game in the NBA this past year. Yao didn't played 5 games last year and was still selected as an all star. There has to be someone much more deserving of an all star spot than him. In fact I'll go ahead and name you the all star team for whenever basketball starts up again. The East will be LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, and one other player. The West will consist of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and two others. May I add, that not only was Yao as an all star last year, but was voted in as a started. That would be close to the equivalent of Brandon Webb being voted in to start the All Star game for the American League even though he hasn't played a Major League Baseball game in over two years now. Baseball does it right in allowing the fans to hold power, but not all the power in determining who starts and plays in the All Star game, and fans of baseball tend to know who is having the better year and is deserving of the nomination. Do names still mean something in baseball? Of course they do. Four Yankees will be starting for the American League, and Derek Jeter is the starting shortstop. For the most part though, fans do get it right, and the game remains to be interesting year after year.

Why is it so interesting? The players actually have something to play for, a chance for home field advantage in the World Series. Also, players actually try in this game unlike the NBA and NFL where players are just happier to go out to Hawaii or just want to mess around. The NBA All Star game in unrealistic as to what the NBA game really is. The Larry O'Brien Trophy was won by a team who got down and played defense this past year. Whereas the All Star game looks like Mike D'Antoni is coaching both sides considering games go well over 220 points in combined scoring. Little defense is played, and near the end of the game players just seem disinterested. Baseball's All Star game consists of the best defenders against the best hitters in a duel that multiple times has gone deep into extra innings. I don't ever recall there being an NBA All Star game go into overtime. The players want to win, and it is rarely ever a blow out either way.

So while the NBA and NFL are stuck in labor disputes over whether the players or owners deserve more of the millions of billions of dollars each one receives, Major League Baseball looks to be the standard in sports right now. With the spectacle of the All Star game approaching, baseball will be in the limelight, and depending on how far these labor disputes stretch, baseball may be the only thing people have to talk about.

-Colby

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