Baseball players still believe there is something classic about the Midsummer Classic, which is returning to New York this season at Citi Field. They insist that, even though such exhibitions in all sports have lost some steam, there still is game left in baseball's All-Star Game.
Baseball, of course, adopted the controversial plan to give the winning league home-field advantage in the World Series.
"Well, I've never made the Pro Bowl and I've never been an All-Star in basketball, so I'd guess I'd be a little biased, but without knowing the preparation that goes into the games in other sports, I would have to say for us it means something," said David Wright, who could get the chance to be an All-Star on his home field. "You look at home-field advantage and that can be a huge advantage. It's only two teams that it ultimately matters to, but at the time of the All-Star Game, the majority of teams in baseball are still alive.
"In the All-Star Game, there's a lot of intensity. There's not people messing around, joking around. People take it seriously," he said.
Kevin Youkilis, one of four current Yankees to have been in the American League starting lineup the last time the All-Star Game was held in New York, five years ago, said, "I think it's hard for guys to get in the mentality that it's do-or-die Game 7, but I think also guys are trying. Starters are coming in throwing 97 . I've had very good experiences in All-Star Games and had a lot of fun with them."
An All-Star Game in New York certainly can be different. "Having all those great former Yankees out there was tremendous," said Wright, who played in 2008.
Youkilis, then a member of the Red Sox, said, "It was very different for me. That parade was the worst parade I've ever been through. I got more things said to me . . . But once we got to the game, it was amazing."