The 10 Worst MLB All-Star Games Ever
Unless you're taking in all the chaos and numerous events of MLB's All-Star Week, there is little to draw you to whichever respective field that the All-Star Game happens to call home. Sure, there are the occasional surprises, like last year's Home Run Derby in which A's powerhouse Yoenis Cespedes became the first player left off the All-Star roster to win the crown, but for every glorious Cespedes homer that cleared over 400', there is at least double the amount of inanity. Celebrity games of which their only means of credibility is being sponsored by Taco Bell, yet another FanFest for fans who can't get enough of getting hyped about baseball, and Joe Buck's long-standing unrequited bromance with Jose Bautista, ultimately round out the week and its alleged main draw: the All-Star Game.
This year's game at Target Field marked the 85th incarnate of the best in baseball trying not to choke on a national level while taking stock of the first half of the season because, whether you watch it or not, the All-Star break is a considerable marker of a team's successes and failures. It's still also a good way to prepare yourself for the World Series by administering small doses of Joe Back as a way to hopefully grow immune to the damn near toxic effect he tends to have on a captive audience. For those of you seeking a bit more schadenfreude in your life and for those of you in the mood to relive some of your most harrowing sports grudges, read on for our list of the Ten Worst All-Star Games in MLB history.
If you want to lose fair-weather baseball fan friends, you should probably show them highlights (or lack thereof) from the 1987 All-Star Game. The type of game that is a walk, talking, but certainly not hitting stereotype of how allegedly boring baseball can be, it took until the 13th inning for any scoring to occur. Expos left fielder and game MVP Tim Raines mercifully delivered a two-run triple to put the NL on the board and, ultimately, the game away. Conversely, if you're all about pitchers' duels and the technical beauty of the sport, then this was your all-star game. The list of impeccable pitchers on either side reads like the roster of a pitching master class: the NL saw the likes of Orel Hershiser, Steve Bedrosian, and Lee Smith kicking ass and taking names and probably chewing lots of sunflower seeds. The AL, conversely, got it done with Mark Langston, Bret Saberhagen, and current Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti, (shoutout!) among many other impressive players.
The fourth ever All-Star Game marked the first National League win and perhaps the worst performance ever by the legendary Joe DiMaggio. Long before his epic 56 game hitting streak, DiMaggio was just joining the major leagues and was apparently good enough to be considered an All-Star; he was the first rookie to play in the mid-summer classic. Blame it on nerves or the fact that he was just 21 years-old (considered very young back in the beginning of baseball) but DiMaggio went 0-5, committed the only error of the game, and made another boneheaded blunder that heavily contributed to the American League's 4-3 loss.
The longest ASG outing in MLB history came to being when literally nothing occurred between the top of the ninth inning and the top of the fifteenth. Dan Uggla made three errors, the most in any mid-summer classic, but amazingly the mistakes didn't hurt the National League team. Realizing his game-ruining mistake from 2002, Commissioner Bud Selig let the boys play through a nearly five hour game that didn't wrap up until 1:38 am. It was only in the bottom of the 15th that Rangers shortstop Michael Young hit a sac fly to drive in Twins first baseman Justin Morneau and finally end a game that ultimately amounted to a battle of endurance.
Ignore the lopsided 9-3 score and focus on the thing that all baseball fans know all too well: team rivalries. Back in 1993, the World Series champion Toronto Blue Jays felt anything but ire at the newly opened Camden Yards. The Orioles and the Jays hated each other with such a fiery, illogical passion that American League and Jays manager Cito Gaston loaded up the All-Star team with as many Jays as he could and went out of his way to prevent the Orioles' Mike Mussina from pitching a single ball. Mussina, the only other Oriole on the All-Star team besides Cal Ripken, was just hitting his stride in his third season in the majors. Though his contributions would've done nothing more than preserve an AL lead that had gotten way out of hand come the sixth inning, the only thing Mussina was able to do was warm up and watch the Jays' Duane Ward close out the game. Mussina was deliberately passed up three consecutive times and fans were pissed off enough to let that moment define what otherwise was an impressive AL victory.
I'd be better off throwing up a clip of that iconic Looney Tunes short “Baseball Bugs” rather than explaining to y'all that the totally not communist Cincinnati Redlegs (okay, maybe their appendages were commies) stuffed the All-Star ballot box with marked up ballots that the Cincinnati Enquirer had fabricated and included with every Sunday newspaper to make it that much easier to catch the Redlegs at a stadium that was less than 400 miles away. 1957 marked the season after Cincinnati embraced McCarthyism and reluctantly changed their name and their logo, thus it only made sense to truly rebel and show the world what the Redlegs are all about. Add to that popular and powerful broadcaster Ruth Lyons urging the newspaper to begin printing the blemished ballots and a citywide embrace of voting Redlegs and you had seven Redlegs all-stars. Despite the controversy, the 1957 All-Star Game was actually kind of exciting and a battle until the very end when the National League mounted a valiant ninth inning rally that netted them a respectable 6-5 loss.
For Mets fans, 2013 was a break-out year that saw the team ascend from fourth place to third place in the NL East standings for the first time since 2008. Aside from that, not a lot of good came to the National League last year, especially in regards to the All-Star Game held at the Mets' Citi Field in Queens. For the first time in ASG history, the American League pitched a consecutive shutout game, one that wasn't as high scoring as 2012's 8-0 victory but was nonetheless still absolutely dominating. Citi Field also gained its largest crowd in attendance 45,186 watching a lopsided game whose frustrating unfairness they'd presumably grown accustomed to because that's the life of a Mets fan.
If I may allow some contemporary musicians to shed some light on the climate of baseball in the late '50s and early '60s: the MLB had two All-Star Games because, to quote Nelly “must be the money.” In 1961, the MLB also had its first tie game during the second game of the mid-summer classic and, to quote Milli Vanilli, you can “blame it on the rain.” Girl, you know it's true that the first tie game went all nine innings at least, resulting in a final score of 1-1. The New York Times went digging through the archives to see why, between 1959 and 1962, there would be a need for two All-Star Games and the reason was just as awesome as Willie Nelson releasing Who'll Buy My Memories? to appease the IRS: players needed money for their pensions. Thus, each second All-Star Game was played more in mind to help a league behind on its finances. 1961's second game was somewhat throwaway in that regard but at least it took care of the stars it showcased.
There is nothing more anti-climactic than an All-Star snoozefest that is so completely one-sided that by the top of the 4th inning, you're better off grabbing some ASG merchandise or a few more beers. The 50th anniversary of the mid-summer classic was sloppier than a drunken tailgate at Miller Park and the only thing the American and National Leagues seemed to truly rival each other in was errors. In fact, the game started on one thanks to a blunder by Jays pitcher Dave Stieb that got Angels center fielder and All-Star MVP Fred Lynn to first. A shockingly disappointing Atlee Hammaker (Giants, you're killing me!) proceeded to choke as hard as humanly possible in the bottom of the third giving up a homer, a triple, and two RIB singles before intentionally walking The Kid himself, Robin Yount, and finally a grand slam from Lynn. That s**t sandwich still stands as the foulest outing for an All-Star pitcher and is what ultimately spelled the NL's downfall in a game that finally – mercifully – concluded with a final score of 13-3.
Sometimes mother nature just doesn't give a shit about baseball. 1952's All-Star Game at Philadelphia's Shibe Park still stands as the only one to be called early due to rain, ending in a torrential downpour and a missed chance for the American League. Chicago Cubs outfielder Hank Sauer may have homered in the fourth for the final scoring play of the game but it was hometown hero Bobby Shantz's impressive pitching that took center stage. During the bottom of the fifth, Shantz struck out hitter after iconic hitter and would've had a chance to net five strikeouts in a row if it weren't for that pesky rain. The American League, wet rally caps and all, felt like they would've won the matchup had the weather not had other plans. The National League was plenty satisfied with a victory and a chance to dry off.
Like most Giants fans, I've been able to fairly successfully block out the entire 2002 season in my mind, save for Dusty Baker pulling Russ Ortiz in Game 6 of the World Series, ultimately signaling our downfall. That moment replays in my head the same way that the 2002 All-Star Game haunts the masses. By far the worst All-Star Game in MLB history, the tie was the second time such a travesty had occurred. What ultimately ended in a 7-7 tie started off with promise, though. The game began with much fanfare – really, the first of its kind – to highlight baseball's elder statesmen and legends, including the recently deceased Ted Williams, whose name first adorned the MVP award that year. Every single player was used by both sides in an effort to give all who were voted an All-Star a fair chance at shining on a national stage, a nod to 1993's terrible All-Star Game and yet not a single player was named MVP. Perhaps most embarrassingly for Commissioner Bud Selig, this all occurred on his home turf in his hometown of Milwaukee at the ballpark that houses the team he formerly owned.