|Let's add spice to All-Star Game|
By Jim Armstrong
Special to Page 2
The hottest player in baseball isn't Albert Pujols. It's Allan Selig.
Admit it, Bud's on a roll. First he gave us the wild card, your basic stroke of genius that keeps every team but the Tigers and the Toledo Mud Hens in contention after Labor Day. Then he talked half the major metro areas in America into the notion that what ailed the local ball team wasn't lousy pitching, but inadequate fan amenities. Build a retractable roof, he said, and they will come. Give them iced cappuccino, he said, and the turnstiles will hum. And damn if it he wasn't right.
Just because he still has the sports coat he wore for his bar mitzvah doesn't mean Bud isn't phat. Sure, he looks like a mild-mannered reporter, but he dresses in a phone booth. The man is hot, I'm telling you. Not in a Heidi Klum kind of way, but hot nonetheless. I'm thinking, if GDub really wanted to find Saddam, he should put Bud in charge. The guy has a way of getting things done.
Now comes Bud's latest and greatest brainstorm. The winner of the All-Star Game, says the Decreer that Made Milwaukee Famous, gets home-field advantage in the World Series. Brilliant, simply brilliant. And you thought, given those 1950s ties of his, he was a staunch traditionalist. Not so, bro'. Beneath that vanilla veneer beats the heart of a renaissance man.
Half the writers in America love to hate Bud. But how can they criticize the guy for trying to make the All-Star Game more interesting? Oh, I forgot. It's just a meaningless exhibition game. Right. That's why everybody went off on him last year when he called it a tie. You would have thought he had invited Osama bin Laden for dinner.
Thanks to Bud, the All-Star Game not only isn't meaningless, it won't have the feel of an exhibition game. Not as much as it used to, anyway. I'm thinking, the next time Barry Bonds picks up Torii Hunter after Hunter robs him of a home run, Bonds body slams him to the ground. OK, so maybe not. But you get the point. Things are going to be different in the All-Star Game. That's different, as in better. Thanks to the man with the plan.
If anything, I'm thinking Bud should have done a Sammy. He should have tried to go the extra mile. He should have come up with a few more innovations to make the All-Star Game more interesting. Innovations like, say ...
1. Have Steve Dalkowski throw the ceremonial first pitch into the upper deck.
2. Players on the winning team get an all-expenses-paid trip to Maui. Players on the losing team get to spend two months with Jose Canseco at Club Fed.
3. Aluminum bats during BP. And hey, if you happen to mistakenly grab one out of the bat rack during the game -- totally innocently, of course -- that's OK, too. Because pitchers in the All-Star Game have to wear helmets.
4. Make the losing pitcher change his name to Mr. Marge Schott.
5. Players on the losing team must spend spring training next year in Baghdad.
6. Pitchers can charge the plate whenever they give up an extra-base hit. But, of course, no punches can be thrown. Some traditions simply must be maintained.
7. Nolan Ryan-Robin Ventura II during the seventh-inning stretch.
8. Any hitter who steps out of the box to adjust his batting gloves, tug on his wristbands and rearrange his family jewels shall be stoned with cell phones.
9. Forget this 25 or 50 grand business. Bonuses for the winning team should equal Pete Rose's average annual losses at Churchill Downs. The losers get the annual salary of the little old lady in Haiti who puts the rabbits in the balls at the factory.
10. A contest for fans to guess how many bags of chew Don Zimmer can stuff into his mouth at once.
11. The winning pitcher gets a lifetime supply of Coors Light, personally delivered by the girls.
12. Barry Bonds must go to the plate with less padding than Gilbert Brown.
13. Since the game is at Comiskey Park, or whatever the heck they call it these days, all players must wear shorts in honor of Bill Veeck.
14. Kevin Brown has to smile, even if it means getting hurt and landing on the DL again.
15. A pregame, winner-take-all base-throwing contest between Lou Piniella and Lloyd McClendon.
16. Let Tonya Harding drive the bullpen car after a coupla sixers of Old Milwaukee.
17. Put the Jimmy Piersall Rule into effect. Players must run the bases backward and foam at the mouth like Schottzie.
18. Ken Griffey, Jr. and Roberto Alomar singing a duet of "The Way We Were" on the Jumbotron.
19. Players on the winning team receive hot drivers from the same company in Tijuana that makes Sammy's bats.
20. Bag the bullpen coaches lobbing lollipops up there. Let Roger Clemens play a little chin music during the home-run contest.
Jim Armstrong, a sports columnist for the Denver Post, is a regular contributor to Page 2.