by Mike Moffett
Weirs Times Columnist
San Diego just hosted the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, a.k.a. the Mid-Summer Classic. While that event’s lost some of its luster, it’s still the oldest and most special of the pro sports All-Star contests. There are always intriguing story lines—such as this year’s National League team featuring an entirely Chicago Cub starting infield.
Cubbies elected as starters included Anthony Rizzo (first base), Ben Zobrist (second base), Addison Russell (shortstop) and Kris Bryant (third base). Three other Cubs, including former BoSoxer Jon Lester, were selected as All-Stars as well. Perhaps the star-crossed Chicago Nationals are on a trajectory to win their first World Series since 1908. The Cubs have had the best record in baseball all season.
It was also cool to see six Red Sox players selected as American League All-Stars. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts and outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts were voted by fans to start in their first All-Star appearances. Forty-year-old designated hitter David Ortiz started in his 10th All-Star Game. Knuckleballer Steven Wright and closer Craig Kimbrel in San Diego as well.
Seeing all the Red Sox and Cub uniforms at the All-Star game made me think of the 2003 playoffs, when it looked like both teams would make the World Series. But the Steve Bartman incident helped doom the Cubs against the Florida Marlins while Aaron Boone’s 11th inning, Game #7 home run off of BoSox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield catapulted the New York Yankees to the World Series—where they lost to the Marlins.
The BoSox had not won a World Series since 1918, but that curse ended in 2004. Cub fans STILL await that World Series triumph that’s eluded them for 108 years. As they say, any team can have a bad century.
A 2003 Cubs/Red Sox World Series would have been particularly special, a reprise of the 1918 Classic when Babe Ruth led the BoSox to victory over Chicago. Still, a 2016 Cub-Red Sox World Series would be one for the ages as well. A Chicago-Boston Fall Classic going back and forth between Fenway Park and Wrigley Field? Could it get any better?
I’ll repeat here some sentiments from an earlier column regarding the MLB All-Star Game.
Fan ballot stuffing threatens the integrity of the game. So here’s a solution. Create a voting formula where the players vote for their peers, with those results counting for 50%, the same percentage that fan voting would account for. That way everyone is invested.
Further, fans should pay $5 for the privilege of casting one electronic ballot per e-mail address, with the proceeds going to some worthy cause or causes. If ten million fans participated, then that would mean $50 million for a charity. If a fan had two e-mail addresses and wanted to pay ten dollars to vote twice, that’s fine. More money for charity.
Next, the size of the All-Star squads should be cut back to eighteen, which was the size of the original 1933 teams. In 2009 MLB expanded the rosters to 33. That’s farcical. A smaller roster may mean that some years no Red Sox players will make the team. So be it.
Stipends for participating should depend upon winning or losing. Let the winners receive bonuses twice the size of the losers.
If any readers know MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, please forward this to him.
And … Go Cubs and BoSox!
Who is the only former Montreal Expo still in the Major Leagues? (Answer follows)
Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on July 14 include star 1960s NFL lineman Roosevelt Grier (1932) and MLB infielder Robin Ventura (1967).
“Aw, c’mon, how could he lose the ball in the sun? He’s from Mexico!”—Chicago Cub announcer Harry Caray, grousing about outfielder Jorge Orta misplaying a fly ball.
Pitcher Bartolo Colon, currently with the Mets. Besides the Expos, he’s also played for the Indians, White Sox, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, and Athletics.
Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.