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If You Take Anything From This Article, Take This: A Scoreboard in the Shape of a Box Score
2003-02-11 09:02
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

All-Star Fever - catch it? Or douse it with antibiotics?

I'll take the fever, thanks.

On ESPN.com's MLB Insider page Monday, Jim Baker commented on the issue of how long some teams have gone since hosting an All-Star Game. The Dodgers ranked seventh, not counting recent expansion teams, having not hosted the event since 1980.

Here are the ten-most All-Star Game-deprived clubs:
Florida: Never
Arizona: Never
Tampa Bay: Never
New York Mets: 39 years
St. Louis: 37
Detroit: 32
Kansas City: 30
New York Yankees: 26
Los Angeles: 22
Montreal: 21

In an e-mail exchange we had, Jim wondered aloud how badly some cities would even want to host the All-Star Game in coming years. Last year’s 7-7 tie wouldn't have helped, pushing the event closer to the more-trouble-than-it's-worth category. I think people really overreacted to the “horror” of that game, though, and I'd hate to think that no one wants to host anymore. They'd be depriving baseball fans of a chance at a singular event that they will remember for a long time.

The thing is, sometimes you just need a catalyst to preserve some good memories, even if that catalyst itself turns out to be imperfect. I bet even many of those who went to last year's tie game will look back on it fondly, even if it's to fondly reminisce how they got cheated of a victor. I know I remember my first All-Star game pretty damn well, considering it was 22 years ago. Even though that 1980 game wasn't a classic, it's fun recalling it.

My memories of that game:

1) Ken Griffey (aka Ken Griffey Sr., as he came to be known) was the MVP. He hit a home run, and that was it, but that was all it took.

2) Jerry Reuss pitched and got the win. In fact, a lot of Dodgers were on the team, and some with shaky stats. I'm not gonna look it up, but my recollection is that Davey Lopes was voted into the starting lineup with an average near .208. These days, the Dodgers don't have the popularity to pull that off - I can't imagine they've had a starter voted in since Mike Piazza.

Here's my other Jerry Reuss story. I was at summer camp around 1979, on a sleepaway hike. We came upon an old, at least temporarily abandoned cabin. There were some old newspapers left to be used in the fireplace - including a sports section from the NL playoffs in what had to be 1974 or 1976. Jerry Reuss was in the box score, pitching for the Pirates. I was young enough to be equally fascinated that there was this old sports section here in this cabin, and that Jerry Reuss had had success even before coming to the Dodgers.

3) The Dodgers' Diamond Vision scoreboard made its official debut. Back then, it was cutting edge. Now, even though it's slightly larger, I think it's about to approach quaint. I have long had an idea about what the Dodgers - or any team - should do with their score-by-innings/lineup scoreboard, though. It should be vertical, and display a live box score, updated with each batter. It seems eminently doable, and would be a real hit, don't you think?

4) My Dad got us tickets. We got season tickets to the Dodgers in 1982, but before then, it was still a surprise to get any tickets to a game. For a game as popular as this - the first All-Star game ever in Dodger Stadium and the first in Los Angeles since 1959 - honestly, I don't know how he came through. But he did. I wonder if I'll have the same magic for my kids. Jim figured that if things go according to fairness, Dodger Stadium will get the game again in 2016. My little girl will be 13 years old then - won't that be something.

Anyway, I know it's an exhibition. I know managers and players and commissioners are very confused about what their roles should be once they arrive. But don't dismiss the All-Star Game. It's a good part of being a baseball fan.

Box-score scoreboard ... Box-score scoreboard ... Box-score scoreboard …

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