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“I don’t know if I’d make it. I think I’d slip, ankle, flip, next thing you know,” Giants closer Brian Wilson said, “I can’t pitch.”

The All-Star game wasn’t always like that. Guys used to treat the game as an honor instead of worrying about getting hurt. The highlights from past games running wall to wall on ESPN proved that. How many times did you see the Pete Rose collision at the plate with Ray Fosse in the 1970 contest? And what are the chances you’ll ever see anything like it in an All-Star game again?

The guess here is never. There’s no need to romanticize the good old days. We like to think the players competed for pride, but even back then, it was about money. The problem, though, is that there’s so much more money on the line these days that the likelihood of any player in any All-Star game would step outside his comfort zone is practically nil.

And it’s not just baseball. The NFL’s Pro Bowl is a glorified flag-football contest and even the NBA and NHL versions, which are entertaining enough as displays of offensive firepower, offer so little defense and intensity that calling them honest games stretches the truth.

So go ahead, Bud, make a statement. Either make attendance at the game mandatory, or just make the midsummer break a vacation. If it ever deserved the label “classic,” it’s anything but that these days.


Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at) Follow him at