MLB All-Star Game Finally Won’t Count

The MLB All-Star Game is underway as I write, and it’s the first one since 2002 that won’t decide which league’s World Series team gets home-field advantage.

About time.

Major League Baseball added that stipulation following the 2002 All-Star Game, a contest ending in a tie when both teams ran out of pitchers. Not only would this stipulation ensure that future All-Star Games crown a winner, but it also provided extra incentive to compete hard, so the thinking went.

Two major flaws: 1) Baseball players take the All-Star Game seriously no matter what. This is unlike the NHL All-Stars prior to 2016, where each one would give a half-hearted effort, if that. The final score of the 2015 NHL All-Star Game? 17-12. Seriously. An MLB All-Star Game equivalent would feature 65mph pitches, home runs every other at-bat, and a 31-24 final score. Borrrrring.

And 2) this stipulation may not reward a team that won more regular season games than the other. Last year’s Cubs won 103 regular season games, but since the American League won the 2016 All-Star Game, the 94-win Indians had home-field advantage. Yeah yeah, the Cubs won the World Series in seven games. They were forced to play four in Cleveland, however, including the final two after leaving Wrigley down 3-2 in the series. The point is that home-field advantage should be decided based on which team had the better 162-game regular season, not the performance of a group of All-Stars in July.

Thankfully Major League Baseball now recognizes this.

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Even Charles Barkley Admits NHL Playoffs Have Been Far Superior to NBA Playoffs

Charles Barkley is a former basketball player, an NBA Hall of Famer, and an NBA analyst on TNT. It seems odd, but the NHL playoffs have ostensibly been distracting him from his job. He has also given his input on air about the dullness of the NBA playoffs and, on the flip side, the intensity of the NHL playoffs.

Barkley’s comments led NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to invite him to Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Nashville Predators and the Pittsburgh Penguins, which Nashville won 4-1 in front of their boisterous home crowd. (I’ve been to a Predators game in Nashville before. The atmosphere is unlike anything you’ll ever experience at a sporting event.)

New York Daily News:

While analyzing the Western Conference semifinal — which ended in another sweep by the Golden State Warriors – Barkley said “Thank God for the NHL playoffs, that’s what I’ve been watching in the back.”

Well, Sir Charles took that knock to this season’s NBA playoffs a step further Monday night while on air during NBC’s intermission coverage of Nashville’s [Stanley Cup Final game against the Pittsburgh Penguins].

“I’m just glad to be here because the NBA playoffs have not been great, but the Stanley Cup playoffs have been amazing,” Barkley said.

And as for reprimand from the NBA, the league Barkley is paid to talk about as a prominent figure on the “NBA on TNT” crew, he’s not sweating it.

“First of all, they can’t fire me,” Barkley said. “Well, they can, but then they’ve got to pay me. That’s why I signed a long-term deal.”

There’s no question that the NBA playoffs have been boring as hell. People know it’s true; they just don’t want to admit it. Aside from the first round Clippers/Jazz series that lasted seven games, almost every other series was as entertaining as listening to someone read the phone book. This includes the later round games as well as the NBA Finals which are still in progress.

The two teams in the Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, were a combined 24-1 in the postseason’s first three rounds. Golden State leads the best-of-seven series 2-0, with both of their wins ending in blowout fashion at home. Beginning tonight, the series shifts to Cleveland for two games, with many wondering if the Cavs can even win a single game, let alone the series. The Warriors have wiped the floor with them, even though the Cavs were wiping the floor with every team they had played up until this point.

On the other hand, this NHL postseason has shown to be consistently exciting. Yes, the Penguins are in the Cup Final for the second consecutive year, but this marks the Predators’ first appearance. In the first around alone, the teams collectively played 18 overtime games—a new record for the first round. In total there have been 27 overtime games so far—one shy of tying the all-time record set in 1993.

Meanwhile, the Warriors and Cavs are meeting in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year. This is also LeBron James’ seventh consecutive NBA Finals appearance. The Warriors haven’t even lost a playoff game yet, and 47 of the 76 playoff games so far have ended in a double-digit victory. Barkley is right: This year’s NBA playoffs may stink, but nothing beats playoff hockey.

Red Sox Fans Apparently Taunt Adam Jones With Racist Remarks

But I thought Massachusetts was such a liberal, progressive state!

Bleacher Report:

“A disrespectful fan threw a bag of peanuts at me,” Jones said, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “I was called the N-word a handful of times tonight. Thanks. Pretty awesome.”

According to Nightengale, Jones said this wasn’t the first time he was on the receiving end of racism in Fenway Park.

ESPN’s Disconnect with Its Viewers

I used to be a devoted reader and watcher of ESPN. But over the past few years I’ve only used their website to check scores, and I haven’t watched a full episode of programming since the early 2010s. Despite this, I’ve been a sports fan since my youth, and I’m fully aware of just how social justice oriented ESPN has become.

Per SportsTVRatings.com, ESPN lost 422,000 viewing homes this past month. Yes, the gradual transition from traditional TV to streaming services is a factor, but the network’s increasing politicization should not be neglected either.

ESPN is also suffering financially. Sports Illustrated reports that:

ESPN will have significant cost-cutting over the next four months on its talent side (people in front of the camera or audio/digital screen). Multiple sources said ESPN has been tasked with paring tens of millions of staff salary from its payroll, including staffers many viewers and readers will recognize.

It’s obvious there’s a disconnect between ESPN and its viewers. The average sports fan, like myself, sees sports as an escape. Sports writers can spill as much ink as they’d like about how it’s wrong to “stick to sports,” but only liberal sports fans agree with this because the media is on their side.

I also recognize that conservative sports fans will always want sports writers to “stick to sports” because the media is not on their side. That’s how human nature works: we like mediums that support our view and dislike mediums that don’t. Yet if a sports outlet is alienating viewership, perhaps they should reexamine their coverage. If they don’t, then social justice crusading is obviously more important to them than ratings.