All-Star Game: Baseball at its Best

July 13, 1993

It's a close call whether the All-Star Game or the World Series quickens the pulse more among dyed-in-the-wool baseball fans. The All-Star Game counts for nothing; the World Series counts for everything. But there's more real baseball talent on the field in the All-Star Game, even this year when the American League squad is overpopulated (unfairly) with last year's champions, and a few genuine all-stars are unhappily taking the day off. No one will quibble if this year's Series is played here in Camden Yards, but until then Maryland fans can revel in the best of inter-league baseball.

When three baseball greats throw out the first ball this evening, the national pastime will shine its brightest. For once the setting lives up to the event: Oriole Park at Camden Yards is everyone's choice as the all-star ballpark. Baseball mania reigns in the area around the ballpark, all the way to the Inner Harbor. Record numbers of fans have flocked to FanFest and a variety of outdoor activities. Much of the hoopla was orchestrated by major league baseball, but state, city and Orioles officials deserve credit for what an immensely successful six-day festival attracting tens of thousands of local fans. Can there still be any doubt about the drawing power of a first-class sports event here? National Football League officials take note.

It wouldn't be the All-Star Game without an argument over who's here and who isn't. Organized baseball has vacillated over the decades between letting the fans pick the starters and leaving it to the pros. This year provides convincing evidence that neither one is perfect. The fans didn't pick either of the American League's hottest catchers, Mickey Tettleton or Chris Hoiles, to start, but manager Cito Gaston didn't, either. Instead he brought seven of his own Toronto players, depriving some deserving Orioles, i.e., Greg Olson, of the extra thrill of playing before a hometown crowd.

For once this year baseball's leadership will convene without bemoaning the state of the sport -- or, as most of them think of it, the business. There will be no clouds on the horizon tonight, literally or figuratively. No quarreling over a commissioner. No fiddling with alignments. No monkeying with playoff schedules. No fretting over players' salaries. This is a day for celebrating all that is best in the national pastime: its most talented players in its premier ballpark before a cross-section of its most devoted fans in a city gone baseball-crazy.

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