Not every midsummer classic lived up to its billing. Check out the five worst MLB All-Star games in history.
5. July 15/16, 2008: AL 4, NL 3 (15 innings): An “Uggla” error-filled yawner
Lately, picking on baseball has become the “cool thing” in sports. Ever since the steroids scandals and some of Commissioner Bud Selig’s decisions, Major League Baseball rarely gets the benefit of the doubt. A sport that was once lauded as “timeless” is now looked upon as “long and boring.” Case in point: the 2008 All-Star game played in Yankee Stadium. This marathon tied the 1967 All-Star game as the longest in history by innings and set the record for length of time at four hours and 50 minutes.
Before the game was even over, pessimists were already jumping on baseball for starting the game so late. Of course, you never hear anyone complain about Monday Night Football starting late. What swayed me in the direction of including this game in the “bad” list is that it did take place over two days, which is a bit ridiculous when you think about it. Also, there were five errors in the game; three by Florida Marlins 2B Dan Uggla. What is worse than three errors? The fact that the AL scored no runs off of those errors!
4. July 13, 1993: AL 9, NL 3: Randy Johnson and John Kruk nonsense
OK, I can already hear some of you yelling, “It’s only an exhibition!” 10 years before the game “mattered,” something happened at the 1993 All-Star game at Camden Yards in Baltimore that disgraced our national pastime. In the top of the third of a one-run game, John Kruk of the Philadelphia Phillies faced Randy Johnson of the Seattle Mariners. Johnson’s first pitch, a fastball over Kruk’s head, would have made Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn of Major League proud.
Admittedly, it is rare for a left-handed batter to face a power-pitching lefty. But on the next three pitches, Kruk swung like he was attached to a bungee cord in the dugout. Despite being an exhibition, fans paid good money for a competitive sporting event, not stand-up comedy. The real travesty is that it set a precedent for more tomfoolery in later All-Star games. In ’97, Larry Walker also had a ball thrown over his head by Johnson. In response, Walker, who was not a switch hitter, turned his helmet around and hit right-handed. Click here to see the Johnson-Kruk fiasco.
3. July 9, 1946: AL 12, NL 0: The most lopsided All-Star game in MLB history
World War II was over! The United States of America was victorious! As the “greatest generation” returned home from the front and the baby boom was about to begin, baseball fans longed to see their heroes don their more traditional uniforms. How bad had baseball been? In 1945, the Chicago Cubs actually made it to the World Series! In 1946, legends such as Johnny Mize, Stan Musial, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio returned to Major League Baseball and fans could not wait to see all the stars compete together on the same field once again.
The 1946 All-Star game, played at iconic Fenway Park in Boston, had all the makings of an instant classic. Unfortunately for the National League, Bob Feller did not stay on board the USS Alabama following the war. Feller was the AL starter and he shutout the NL over his three innings pitched. The AL batters had no such troubles. By the time the blowout was over, the American League had out-hit the National League 14-3 and outscored them 12-0.
2. July 9, 1957: AL 6, NL 5: Commissioner Ford Frick seeing “Red”
One of the catchphrases used to describe All-Star games is that they “belong to the fans.” If the media expresses outrage at a non-deserving player being voted into an All-Star game, they must be reminded that the fans have every right to vote for whomever they choose. But in 1957, a voting scandal among Cincinnati Reds fans actually caused Commissioner Ford Frick to take voting away from the fans until 1970.
Through a number of devious means, Reds fans stuffed the ballot boxes and got seven Reds starters voted into the ’57 All-Star game, played in St. Louis at Sportsman’s Park. Allegedly, a local newspaper printed pre-marked ballots with Reds players already filled in. In response, Frick removed two of the Reds players and replaced them with Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Although the game was well-played with a one-run finish and six runs scored in the 9th, it still has its dark selection process as its legacy. So it belongs on this list. To read more on this game, visit “1957 All-Star Game” at baseball-almanac.com.
1. July 9, 2002: AL 7, NL 7 (11 innings): Bud’s Dud?
Although the 2002 All-Star game certainly was a disaster, the blame should not rest on the shoulders of Bud Selig. From passing tough performance-enhancing-drug (PED) penalties, to an expanded playoff system and interleague play, Bud Selig has done many good things for Major League Baseball. However, for whatever reason, he is the classic scapegoat and a lightning rod for every complaint about baseball. Although he made the decision to end the 2002 All-Star game in a tie, the real responsibility for this outcome lies at the feet of managers Bob Brenly and Joe Torre.
Through irresponsible managerial decisions, both teams used all of their available pitchers. And since the game was in extra innings, there was a fear that if the game continued, then each pitcher would risk injury. It was a no-win situation for Selig. Had he ordered the game to continue and a pitcher got hurt, he would have been criticized for not stopping the game. What made matters worse was that Selig’s own home crowd in Miller Park in Milwaukee roundly booed his decision. Regardless of whose fault it is, the 2002 All-Star is definitely the worst in MLB history.
All statistical data found at the baseball-reference web site
Other great baseball articles on associatedcontent.com.
Umpire Jim Joyce Ruins Perfect Game
Top Five Chicago Cubs Starting Pitchers since 1960
Top Five Chicago Cubs Relief Pitchers since 1970