The lone bright spot in a dark All-Star Game. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
For years now, Red Sox fans have been able to take pride in their team's contributions to the All-Star Game. While they would benefit more than most from the frankly silly fan voting system that has once again decided Derek Jeter is worthy of starting honors over the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera--sorry, I couldn't help myself--they've also had top-class talent to send, enjoying well over their fair share of representation season after season.
This year? Not so much. This year the Sox have just the one man in David Ortiz, and for fans, not a lot of reason to watch.
This is not just a matter of bad fan voting or unjust snubs, however. Make no mistake: David Ortiz is Boston's All-Star, and he is their only All-Star. If, God forbid, Ortiz weren't here this season, Boston's mandatory representation would likely be Scott Atchison. No offense to Scott Atchison, but it's never a good sign when a team has to rely on a middle reliever for its reputation.The Sox aren't there yet, but that they're so close is upsetting.
Of course, there are other reasons to watch an All-Star Game. Teams expecting a World Series run will be interested in Home Field Advantage, for instance.
Sadly, for the Red Sox, this is also seeming less and less important.
Not to beat a dead horse, but this really hasn't been Boston's year. And while plenty of fans are still not interested in giving up the ghost just yet, there are few who would argue there's any real expectation of a World Series run.
First there's just getting to the playoffs. Certainly possible, but not easy. Trailing the likes of Detroit, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and Baltimore for the second Wild Card spot, the Sox will have to not only get hot, but get hotter than teams that are looking to improve at the deadline and make a run while they have the chance. These are teams on an upswing compared to the Red Sox, who have to see this 2012 season as the worst situation they've been in for years.
But then you have to consider what the Sox would be gambling on, because they're not after a trip to the playoffs so much as a shot at a trip to the playoffs. One that's entirely likely to feature the likes of Justin Verlander, James Shields, or Jered Weaver taking on...Jon Lester? Josh Beckett?
Vegas odds for the second half have the Red Sox as 22:1 dogs to win the World Series and 11:1 against to even make the Fall Classic. Generous odds, of course, given the nature of Las Vegas' business.
It will be nice if David Ortiz puts on a show tonight and lifts the American League to victory, but these All-Star Games take a lot of time, and David Ortiz' at bats will fill precious little. Without much faith that anything else of personal importance is riding on this game, the only draw will be the spectacle itself and the promise of high-quality matchups. That's enough for plenty of baseball fans, but looking at it only as a Red Sox fan, there's just not much appeal.