Earlier this week, our nation paused for a few days to celebrate one of memorable passages of Summer, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. For many a baseball fan, the All-Star Game represented the high water market of that time out of school, an opportunity to stay up a little later than usual with my collection of baseball cards to watch the best childhood heroes face off against one another. The menagerie of uniforms of players who fight and claw against each other 162 games a year, come together to beat the best the other league has to offer.
As you imagine, things have changed quite a bit since I was a youngster watching this game. For the sake of nostalgia, and being completely bored, I decided to watch a few innings of the game. I was happy to see that the hometown Reds were well represented during the festivities. Devin Mesoraco nearly made an impossible play on a wild pitch; Alfredo Simon and Aroldis Chapman both pitched well. Todd Frazier made it to the finals of the Home Run Derby; certainly well deserved, yet unexpected.
Even though there were lots of great things about the game, there were a few things that stood out to me as odd and even peculiar. First off, the hats that all the players wore during the game were just curious. Most of the Major League Baseball teams have a solid color hat with the team logo prominently displayed on the front of the hat. Of all the sport fashion items, the Major League Baseball hat has to be one of the most recognizable. Many a casual fan has a hat and wear them quite often. It’s pretty easy to recognize a team by simply looking at the hat.
Major League Baseball, tried something I haven’t seen before, special hats for the All Stars. The hats were not the solid color you might expect, but the front panels of the hat had a second color. So, the traditional Reds hat with the solid red color and wishbone “C”, actually had red with the front panels black and the white wishbone “C”. If you think my description is confusing, well, that is exactly how those hats looked.
However, I understand what Major League Baseball is trying to do; they are trying to get extra money for their coffers. If they can design a new hat, they know that there will be fans that will be willing to fork over hard earned money for the new style. We all know the high costs of salaries and stadiums equate to high prices for fans, whether it be a cold beer or a new hat.
The more discouraging aspect of the game occurred during the commercials. I was struck by a commercial from Target. On one hand it made sense, the All Star Game was in Minneapolis, headquarters of Target and the game was played at Target Field. But, those commercials were selling items that shouldn’t be sold, at least sold during the All Star Game, back to school supplies.
Target was hocking backpacks, pencils, ink pens and markers, all with snappy music, bright colors, happy kids and happier parents. As I saw the advertisement, I felt sorry for all those kids that were like me about thirty years ago. The All Star Game was the heart of Summer, there were still lots of days left to play pick up baseball games, ride bicycles or swim at the pool. There was so much fun still left to have in those summer days that seemed to last forever. I knew that Summer was coming to a close once the Sunday papers were filled with Back to School flyers and the annual pilgrimage to J. C. Penney’s for a new school wardrobe that I woefully outgrew by Christmas.
I felt sorry for those kids that had to watch that advertisement. I wish I could tell all those youngsters that no matter what the television says, there is still time left to make this time of year count. There is still time to play so hard during the day, that when you go to sleep, you are so dog tired you don’t even put up a fight with mom or dad. There are still games to be played, swimming pools to jump in to and backyard creatures to explore. Hopefully those kids were looking at their baseball cards during the commercials and ignored them, just like I would have done.