Has Major League Baseball Finally Jumped The Shark?

For years and years, Major League Baseball’s All Star Game was just that, a game, a brief respite in the long season to give the best of America’s pastime a chance to showcase their talents in front of a national audience who, limited by the local TV coverage of the time, rarely saw stars from the other ColorRunleague. It was a chance to settle, at least for one day, who was better, Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford or Bob Gibson.
Now, continuous interleague play and round the clock (and nation) coverage of games from every team has removed much of the magic of the Mid Summer Classic, even with home field advantage in the World Series upping the ante.
The All Star Game has also grown beyond a simple nine-inning contest between the best of baseball to become a multi-day extravaganza. The Home Run Derby, the Futures Game, the interactive FanFest have all served to expand, and some would say simultaneously dilute, the focus of the occasion.
It’s no surprise that among all the ancillary activities MLB would seek to bring runners, and running, into the mix, and for several years now a 5K run has been part of the festivities.
Baseball and running are by no means strange bedfellows; a perfunctory search of the certified course database will reveal dozens of races that finish at, and often in, a ballpark, especially those of minor leagues, for whom a 5K is just one more promotion like Cap Day or Mustache Night.
The All Star Game run, by contrast, has always seemed to be a somewhat artificial, forced marriage, more of an afterthought than an integral part of the week’s festivities.
But this year, in conjunction with the game at Target Field Tuesday night, baseball might finally have come up with the running equivalent of the Home Run Derby, pure spectacle with only the slimmest connection to the sport it’s a part of.
Rather than a traditional 5K race with a baseball theme, this year’s event was a color run, one of those untimed jaunts in which colored powder is thrown on the participants at several points along the course. The attraction of this still escapes me, but for the past year or so color runs and similar events have been the explosive growth segment of the running world. And now, they’ve come to baseball’s All Star Game.
If you’re a purist who feels the designated hitter is a sign that the baseball apocalypse is nigh then this latest development may be enough to make you give up your season tickets and start following Premier League soccer instead. Personally, I’ll hope it’s like a teenager whose flourescent colored hair and nose rings are just a temporary stage to be survived before a more normal existence returns.


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