SPORTS

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July 12, 2002

Foul Tips with Philo Davidson

Another All-Star game has come and gone, and just to underscore how meaningless this game is, it actually ended in a tie. A tie. What is this, T-ball? Soccer? The fact is, the only reasons people have to pay any attention to the All-Star events at all is to whine about how their favorite player got left off in favor of Randy Winn, because we all know how important it is to gain the honor of being named the 60th best player in the first half of the regular season, and to watch Sammy Sosa swat 500-foot dingers in the Home Run Derby, so a few years down the line they can be nostalgic for the days before steroids were banned. As far the game is concerned, the few players that actually show up just do it so they can throw a couple of innings or take a couple of at-bats (but absolutely no more) and then collect their incentive checks. It has indeed become clear that All-Star break is in desperate need of spicing up, so here, submitted for the consideration of Bud Selig, are some ideas to make the All-Star break more fan-friendly.

The Game. Obviously, the game would be better if the teams had some incentive to actually win. For instance, everybody on the losing team should have to lose a finger. That would make them want to win. Also, the option of skipping the game needs to go. It should be more like the military draft; show up or face the consequences. The players might complain, but who cares about the players? This is for the fans.

The Players. The only way to ensure that only the best players make it is by skipping the AL/NL thing and doing the teams like they're done in second grade. Joe Torre gets to be first captain, Bob Brenly gets to be second captain, they make their picks, and then it's done. They could still choose lots of their own players, but on the other hand, it's hard to wear World Series rings without any fingers.

The All-Suck Team. The only thing fans love more than honoring the great players is telling the crappy players how much they suck. To satisfy this appetite, the fans should get to vote on the 25 players in the major leagues that suck the most. That's right, the overpaid and the overweight, the iron gloves and the lead bats, the has-beens and the never-will-bes alike will have an opportunity to be shamed. Headed by the likes of Jose Lima, J.T. Snow, Jose Offerman, and pretty much the entire roster of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, they'd play an exhibition game against last year's Little League World Series champions, and another one against their grandmothers. Sure, we can see Todd Hundley fan against major league pitching all the time, but it's not every day one gets to see him whiff at a Danny Almonte fastball, or a Mrs. Almonte floater.

The Drunken Fan Contest. You know him. There's one at every game. His pregame alcohol intake would put Hideki Irabu to shame. He's the one who tells the center fielder not only that he sucks, but how much he sucks, what he sucks, and how often he sucks it, all the while pounding down cup after cup of overpriced beer. His profane rants send parents diving to shield their children's ears, and there's no stopping him, at least not until stadium security arrives. And this contest would give the best (or worst) drunken fans the chance to meet, during an All-Suck team exhibition game, for the title of Most Obnoxious Fan Ever. Points would be awarded for volume, creativity, persistence, and level of inebriation, and the winner would get a lifetime supply of beer.

The Home Run Derby for Pitchers. I'm just curious, that's all. A few of them would probably stand a good chance of beating Bonds's total of two this year. For the record, Robert Person would have won this year, in an upset over Mike Hampton.

The MLB Skills Competition. Time to steal a page from the NHL playbook. It would have some of the traditional events (speed pitch, time from home to first) with the less traditional (helmet toss, time from home to the mound). There could be a special event for managers, to test their tantrum-throwing skills. It would be our chance to see how far Lou Pinella could throw a base, if he really tried.

A New and Improved All-Star Fanfest. The All-Star Fanfest is an exhibition where fans can go to indulge themselves in all things baseball. The only problem is that it's completely outdated, mostly video batting cages, baseball cards, demonstrations of how baseballs and bats are made, and maybe a few baseball video games. It's about time they added some more interactive and modern games and displays for fans to get into, such as:

Who's on 'Roids? Using only before and after pictures, identify the players who have been taking steroids. (Hint: Try the ones whose heads have swelled up to the size of a watermelon.)

Blackmail the Municipal Government. Create winning strategies to force cities to build half-billion dollar stadiums (complete with malfunctioning retractable roofs) and win money from grateful owners.

Inside the Locker Room with Ruben Rivera. It's all about not getting caught.

Smokin' it up at Shea. One goal: Don't have a seizure.

Rafael Palmeiro's Guide to Endorsements. When you're really, really, really desperate for money.

Guess the Strike Date. The fan who guesses correctly wins a trip to that year's World Series.

Can You be a Worse Commissioner than Bud Selig? A game show for people who don't like to lose. A spin-off ofCan You be a Worse GM than Dan Duquette?

And finally

The All-Steroid Game. Yes, the game where everybody participating must be able to test positive for anabolic steroids. Hey, it's the only event on this list we're anywhere close to getting.