Leading Off

Leading Off: Does anyone care about All-Star Game?

Does anyone still care about All-Star Game?

No matter how exciting – or boring – fans thought Tuesday night’s All-Star Game in Minneapolis was, there’s no debating that the Midsummer Classic has lost much of its luster.

Growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, my friends and I wouldn’t think of missing an All-Star Game. It was a rare chance to see the game’s top stars.

Back then, as Orioles fans in Maryland, we seldom got to watch the players we read about in the newspaper, such as Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, Roberto Clemente and Ernie Banks, except on the Saturday game of the week and during the World Series. Local teams didn’t broadcast every game on TV, as they do now; mostly, we followed on radio.

Nowadays, intense baseball fans can watch or follow every game via cable packages and online/mobile apps; more casual fans can see highlights from every game on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and other nightly cable sports shows.

Fans no longer have to wait until July to see the game’s best players, as we once did.

The 1970 game in Cincinnati – where Rose collided with A’s catcher Ray Fosse at the plate to score the winning run – had a 28.5 rating (the percentage of households who watched), according to Baseball Almanac. The game had a 6.9 rating last year, and even with Derek Jeter’s final All-Star appearance, the rating for Tuesday’s game increased only to 7.0.

Interestingly, the NFL’s Pro Bowl has beaten the All-Star Game in some recent years, even though the Pro Bowl is played after the regular season, doesn’t include any players from the two Super Bowl teams and mostly resembles a touch football game. Seriously, have you watched the Pro Bowl?

Ratings for the NBA All-Star Game are almost equal to baseball’s, but the NBA game is broadcast on TNT, which reaches far fewer households than Fox. And last year, the NBA did better in the coveted adults 18-49 group than baseball, whose average viewer is 53 years old, according to Sports Business Daily.

We don’t want the All-Star Game to go away, but it needs some major changes to make it must-see TV again.

Tom Couzens


Today’s poll

Did you watch Tuesday’s All-Star Game ?

• Yes, as I do every year.

• Yes, but only a few innings before I tuned out.

• No, it’s boring.

Vote above, or go to sacbee.com/sports

Tuesday’s poll results

Do you think the 49ers’ Vernon Davis deserves a new contract?

• Yes, he deserves a raise: 20%

• No, he should honor his contract: 80%

Total votes: 153

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