Greg Hoard
Greg Hoard

Born in Indiana and educated in Georgia, Greg Hoard came to Cincinnati in the winter of 1979 as a columnist for the Cincinnati Post sports department, and joined the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1984 as the beat writer for the Cincinnati Reds.  He has received numerous awards for his work. In 1990, he left journalism for television. Hoard worked for WLWT-TV from 1990 through 1993 as sports director and spent 12 years as sports director at WXIX-TV. His written work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Baseball America, Baseball Digest and NFL Game Day. He has appeared on ESPN and NBC’s The Today Show. Greg is the author of three books: Joe, Rounding Home and Heading for Home; Gary Burbank, Voices in My Head; and, most recently, Hannan’s Way, An Unlikely Trek Through Life. He is currently working on a baseball memoir, parts of which he will share here.


As a frustrated and discouraged life-long baseball fan, I say let’s save the so-called baseball fan of today from himself and preserve the All-Star Game by allowing the most knowledgeable to determine who starts, and who makes the team.

(Ed. Note:  With all-star voting in full measure we’ll re-present an interesting read from Greg Hoard originally published prior to the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati.  It drew a lot of reader response then – so why not again?  Enjoy.

CINCINNATI — What do you say? Let’s just go ahead and abandon all sanity – every smidgen of reason and respect – when it comes to the All-Star Game.

Let’s turn it over to the loons, lunatics, dipsticks and dunderheads who are already storming the doors of a baseball tradition and threatening to turn it into just another MTV Music Awards show.

Heck yeah. Bring on the dancing girls, the dancing bears.

Cirque Du Soleil, you’re up.

Janet Jackson, bust a move.

Lady Gaga you’re singing the anthem, and, hey, Christopher Walken you’re playing third for the National League in the fifth inning; Nick Nolte you got short for the Americans in the sixth.

And after all this, let’s send Rob Manfred the new commissioner out there and he can tell us how the game has meaning, meaning. Yeah, the winner gets home field advantage during the World Series, and don’t worry, folks, we’re trying to dress-up that dinosaur, too.

Is this nonsense that far fetched, hardly?

Baseball is doing everything it can to make the Mid-Summer Classic, formerly the showcase for the best in baseball to play and win for pride, little more than another “show,” more spotlights than highlights, just another extravaganza.

You shouldn’t – and probably don’t – need me to tell you any of this. I credit you, the readers, at least the vast majority, as reasonably intelligent folks who want to cling to some vestige of tradition and the best of the best. I can’t imagine that baseball requires a modern version of costume jewelry – in all its elements – to remain significant, but I say that knowing full-well that “significance” is now synonymous with ratings.

Memento from the very first All-Star game, played in 1933 at Chicago's Comiskey Park.

Memento from the very first All-Star game, played in 1933 at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.

Today, we stand ever so close to wrecking what has been a special event since 1933, when the Junior and Senior circuits first met at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.

Voting is now exclusively online and we know the shenanigans that can lead to. Until Monday (June 29th), the Kansas City Royals had the starting player at seven of eight positions, a pure injustice to people like Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis, Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, Toronto’s Josh Donaldson and the O’s Manny Machado.

The absurdity is that each individual can vote up to 35 times. So let’s say you are the guy in Piqua or Washington Courthouse, who is serious about baseball, who actually took the time to study the ballot and vote for the most deserving players. But you only have time to vote once. Well, guess what? You don’t count. You’re out-weighed by one wild-eyed nimrod who wears his Marlins pajamas to bed every night and sleeps with a Giancarlo Stanton bobble-head and a lap-top.

There’s even a means by which a voter can call up their favorite team and automatically vote for every starter on the team.

Brunsbanner150x150-01So, let’s save the so-called baseball fan of today from himself and preserve the All-Star Game by returning the vote to the players, managers and coaches. Allow the most knowledgeable to determine who starts and who makes the team. Eliminate bias as much as you can.

Let’s make selection a source of pride. Let’s honor the best of the best once a year and let’s make it about that and nothing else.

There are those today who contend that the All-Star Game does have meaning and more than it ever has because former Commissioner Bud Selig decreed that the winning team has home field advantage in the World Series.

What a ludicrous assertion?

“Please,” Pete Rose said, recently. “We can sit here for the next five or six minutes and come up with maybe a handful of teams that have a chance to make it to the World Series. So for the guys on those teams who are in the All-Star Game, sure it matters. But how about all those other guys on the other teams. What do they care?”

And beyond that, let’s say your team wins 120 games during the regular season, the most in your league, but because your league dropped the All-Star Game, you get punished. You get to play Game 7 on the road.

This is a train on the way to a wreck, and it needs to be saved before it’s too late.

Hoard_inset1123Still, I will watch. I will watch because it’s tradition. It’s the Mid-Summer Classic and for the most part, the players who deserve to be on the team will be on the team.

But I will not involve myself in the trappings. My son just told me ESPN is doing the Home Run Derby with all its new rules once again. This should be a bounteous affair given the way balls flee from GABP.

So, I guess this also means that once again we get to listen to Chris Berman bark, “Back, Back, Back, Back!”

Saints preserve us.

PressProsMagazine. com.