I’ve made it known for years now that my favorite All-Star game of the four major sports is the one Major League Baseball puts on.
It’s the only showcase that resembles the actual sport.
The NBA and NHL All-Star games are flamboyant offensive displays that completely shun defense.
And the NFL? Well, I don’t even know what kind of circus it’s putting on nowadays but the last time I watched a Pro Bowl the ball was snapped and all the offensive and defensive lineman simple stood up and faced each other with little or no contact at all.
Baseball is different. It’s the game you see during the regular season. The defense isn’t going to take the night off. The pitchers aren’t going through the motions when all the cameras are on them as the toil on the mound. The hitters don’t want to be embarrassed when they step up to the plate on a national stage.
This year, though, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred made a change to the fabric of the game that drew my ire. Actually, he changed the “fabric,” as in he made the All-Stars, for the first time, wear uniforms designed for each league instead of those of the teams they represent.
That was one of the visuals of the MLB All-Star game that I always loved. Each player wore his team’s uniform. When a player from your local city came up to bat, he was sporting that team’s colors, its design.
That gave fans a little extra pride in their hometown player when he got in the game.
So when the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani stepped to the plate in the top of the first inning and hit a grounder that the second baseman made a nice play on to throw him out, it took me a couple seconds to realize, oh, yeah, that was the Pirates’ Adam Frazier.
The camera zoomed in on Frazier and there he was in this strangely designed white uniform with vertical letters on the side of the front and a blue Pirates “P” in the middle of it.
To me it was a horrible optic. There were many who just felt the uniforms were poorly designed but to me that didn’t matter at all, it could’ve been the nicest looking duds a baseball player ever put on.
Here’s the point.
There is no blue in the Pirates color scheme, they’re black & gold and when they have two players in the starting lineup I want to see “Pirates” across their chest in that distinct black lettering with gold trim.
Say what you want about the Pirates — yes, they had the third-worst record in baseball at the break — they’re still Pittsburgh’s team and when their best players are on the national stage I want all who are watching to know that these are our Pirates.
It’s not just the Bucs, though. I always thoroughly enjoyed watching all the players in all their different uniforms line the dugout, mingling with each other, giving high-fives to each other.
That was the one uniform advantage the MBL All-Star game had over the other sports. Of course you couldn’t do that in an NBA, NHL or NFL all-star game because it would create chaos.
Baseball was unique in its variety of uniforms and that made it special in that way.
Frazier made another nice play on a rocket shot off the bat of game MVP Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to throw him out. He also singled in his first at bat. Pittsburgh teammate Bryan Reynolds almost blasted a home run but the Yankees’ Aaron Judge hauled it in. Both Pirates grounded out in their second at bat.
Each time I watched them, though, I smirked at those ridiculous uniforms.
It wasn’t just the Pirates, though. You couldn’t distinguish any of the players really, they all blended together in the dugout, the NL in all white and the AL in all blue.
The reason for all this, obviously, is money.
You may already have an Ohtani Angels uniform so him wearing that at the All-Star game does nothing for the MLB pocketbook, but, hey, look at this one-of-a-kind, special blue 2021 All-Star edition Ohtani baseball top! Get out your credit card!
I still enjoyed watching the All-Star game and will always believe its the best of the four sports. It just didn’t have the same feel to it with those uniforms.
I think back to Dave Parker wearing that banana-colored Pirates uniform in 1979 while unleashing his cannon throw home that saved the game for the National League. Love them or hate them, they were unique and they were definitely Pittsburgh at that time, and to me, that’s a great memory.
Here’s hoping this 2021 uniform fiasco was a one-time deal and Manfred and the MLB goes back to the way it was in 2022.