Baltimore deserves and needs an All-Star Game - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Baltimore deserves and needs an All-Star Game

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

It was 26 years ago that the All-Star Game came to Baltimore for the first time since 1958.  These days, fans are wondering if they’ll ever see another one.

Last year, when commissioner Rob Manfred addressed the Baseball Writers’ Association of America before the All-Star Game in Washington, he angrily denied that there was any connection between the MASN dispute and the lack of another All-Star Game in Baltimore.

There was talk that Baltimore would get the 2016 game, but it went to San Diego instead, and Washington hadn’t had a game since baseball returned there in 2005.

Tonight’s game in Cleveland may sting particularly because the Indians last hosted it in 1997, four years after the Orioles did.

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In 1993, everyone in baseball was delighted with how the All-Star Game went. Then, the Home Run Derby and Celebrity Game were held on Monday afternoon, and the Futures Game hadn’t been thought of. The nearby Baltimore Convention Center held FanFest, and everything went swimmingly.

The nation had a great impression of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, then in its second season and of the renaissance at the Inner Harbor.

Things are much different and more troubling in Baltimore now, but that’s not why there’s not an All-Star Game. The long-running issue between Major League Baseball and MASN over rights fees for Nationals games is the reason, no matter what Manfred argues.

Next year’s game is in Dodger Stadium for the first time in 40 years, and Atlanta’s new SunTrust Park will host the All-Stars in 2021. Philadelphia has been named the game’s host in 2026, when the United States celebrates its 250th anniversary.

In theory, that leaves 2022-25 games open for Baltimore, but there is legitimate competition from other cities. The Texas Rangers, which hosted the game in 1995, will open a new park next season, and would love to show it off.

In its last season, the old Yankee Stadium was the site of the 2008 game, and New York is always a great place to host major events. It wouldn’t be a surprise for the Yankees to get an All-Star Game in the near future.

Toronto had the game in 1991, two years before Baltimore, and it would make sense to bring the game back to Canada, especially since the city, thanks to the Raptors’ recent success, is a more important one in the sports world than it was 28 years ago.

Wrigley Field had the All-Star Game in 1990, when lights were a new phenomenon, and everyone likes going there, too.

For now, the Orioles don’t have to worry about Oakland, which had an All-Star Game in 1987 or Tampa Bay, which has never had one. Until the Athletics and Rays get new facilities, there won’t be an All-Star Game there.

Baltimore makes too much sense for baseball. Oriole Park, despite diminished attendance in recent years, still is one of baseball’s jewels, and Baltimore has thousands more hotel rooms than it did in 1993.

Coincidentally, Manfred was visiting Baltimore on the night that the riots began in April 2015, causing postponement of the game between the Orioles and Chicago White Sox.

The MASN case was being litigated then, too, and no one knows when it will finally end, and if MLB will look more favorably on the Orioles.

If Manfred, who professes an ample social consciousness, wishes to punish the Orioles by not awarding Baltimore a game, he’s wrong. He’s hurting Baltimore, which given its tarnished image in recent years, can surely use the game.

Not only would it be a confidence booster for a city that badly needs it, but the many thousands of tourists who come for All-Star Week would help the beleaguered city economy.

The Orioles and any other franchise does get a temporary boost from the All-Star Game. They sell additional season-ticket plans that allow fans to buy tickets to the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby, which has become a fan favorite as well.

However, the year after the game, many of those fans don’t renew the tickets, and the benefit is temporary.

There’s no guess here about when the All-Star Game will return to Oriole Park, but Baltimore deserves and needs it. For a sport trying to appeal to a diverse audience, awarding the game to Baltimore would be a symbolic win, showing that baseball cares about the problems of urban America.

But it will probably have to await a resolution of the MASN lawsuit—and another few years for good measure.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. cb

    July 9, 2019 at 8:18 am

    It has also been said that baseball is punishing Angelos for refusing to use scabs during the 94/95 strike.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2019 at 9:10 am

      CB, we’re years past that.

      • Bancells Moustache

        July 9, 2019 at 9:47 am

        It is outrageous that Cleveland, New York and Pittsburgh have all had 2 All Star games, with Philly set to join them, since 1993. Camden Yards is billed, rightfully, as a crown jewel of baseball yet MLB sees no need to place one it’s showcase events there. There has to be something going on. I have to disagree with you on Baltimore city deserving the ASG though Rich. Baltimore city, stacking one national embarassment upon another for a while now, hardly “deserves” any sort’ve special treatment just because 30 years ago it built a gorgeous ballyard.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2019 at 9:55 am

      Bancells, because the ballpark is so great and the East Coast location ideal, it deserves one. It would be nice if MLB demonstrated some social conscience. Baltimore wasn’t crime-free in 1993, either.

    • Camden Brooks

      July 9, 2019 at 6:56 pm

      Me thinks we can place the blame squarely on The Wire. Corner boys, dead girls in a can, Marlo on the prowl.

  2. Dominate The State

    July 9, 2019 at 8:27 am

    Wasn’t the 2018 ASG in Nationals Park?

  3. DevoTion

    July 9, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Yes, we deserve an all-star game in bmore, but unless we have some all-star players on the team it would be a bit of a disappointment, the required 1 all-star player is somewhat of a stupid rule, but only having one at a home all-star game would be sad.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2019 at 10:32 am

      Devo, hopefully the Orioles will be better by the time the ASG returns.

  4. SpinMaster

    July 9, 2019 at 10:28 am

    Rich: I barely remember the 1993 ASG at Camden Yards, but I agree with you that it is far past its time to host another one. After watching last night’s “Home Run Hitting” contest, I can’t think of another location (maybe except San Fran) where there is a target in right field (the Warehouse) for the batter to aim for, and at OPCY, the ball doesn’t won”t up in the water. Alas, I don’t think Manfred will look beyond his love of the “Nationals” and DC to award the game to us.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2019 at 10:34 am

      Spin, many people believe the lure of the Home Run hitting contest began when Ken Griffey Jr. hit the warehouse on one bounce.

      I don’t think Manfred loves the Nationals. I just think he’s mad at the Orioles.

  5. ClayDal

    July 9, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Rich, when Manfred has been asked about Baltimore hosting the game, he claims that they haven’t applied. The crux of all this is the MASN dispute. Not to get into the weeds of the dispute ( Google MASN dispute) the current dispute only covers how much in TV rights fees that MASN (Orioles) owe the Nats from 2012-2016 . They haven’t even begun haggling over how much to pay from 2017-2021 the period we are in now. This could drag on for another 5-10 years. Eventually a long term solution needs to be reached. My completely amateur solution would be for the Orioles to buy out the Nats share in MASN, let the Nats sell their TV rights to Comcast (NBCSW) and either MASN can be a 100% Orioles network or they can sell MASN to Fox or ESPN. Until the dispute gets resolved, the Orioles ( and Nationals ) are in a state of limbo

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2019 at 12:17 pm

      I just hope this gets settled soon, John.

    • ClayDal

      July 9, 2019 at 12:25 pm

      When I was in 7th grade many, many years ago, they split us up in groups and had us try to settle the dispute in the Middle East. We solved all the problems in less than 20 minutes. Maybe we should send 7th graders in to negotiate.

  6. jimcarter

    July 9, 2019 at 11:07 am

    Obviously; the system is flawed. Assuming there is a system and they’re not drawing names out of a hat. So; 40 years for the Dodgers and 26 for the Orioles. I would have to wonder why it took so long for Los Angeles to get another shot. Simply rotating the responsibility is the only fair solution. If they’re going to focus on anniversaries, new stadiums and the like, then some team is always going to feel left out. Speaking of fairness; how about the fact that the next 3 named hosts are all in the National League? They should rotate league cities…every other year.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2019 at 12:20 pm

      Jim, all of the NL parks from 2015-26 are holding the All-Star Game for the first time, with the exception of Dodger Stadium. Sometimes, teams don’t need the ASG because they don’t need an economic boost. Others don’t have nice enough facilities.

      There are more older parks in the AL than the NL.

      • jimcarter

        July 9, 2019 at 3:59 pm

        A few of us are old enough to remember a time when sports venues had actual names and not sponsorships of some insurance company. I picked a random date of 1965 and scrolled forward in time. During that era, the MLB all star game transitioned between AL cities and NL cities like clockwork. Somewhere along the way (probably the 80s because that’s when things went south in America), some process that isn’t fair to anyone went into place. I still follow baseball because-compared to basketball-it has some semblance of tradition. However; the younger fans should know there WAS a recognizable pattern to the event at one time. And yes; they even once had all star games in REALLY old stadiums and fans didn’t care.

        • Rich Dubroff

          July 9, 2019 at 4:47 pm

          I remember those times, too. I began watching baseball in 1963. Thank you for commenting, Jim.

  7. Orial

    July 9, 2019 at 11:18 am

    As has been mentioned the MASN dispute is at the center of anything that’s got to do with Orioles baseball. Rich I do like your mentioning that MLB’s so called conscience( if there is any)could be of assistance to any social issues plaguing the city. There is a period of limbo with both the O’s and the city at this present time. It may be time for people of influence(please not the government anymore)to come to the forefront and layout a game plan. With Camden Yards and the O’s glorious history maybe it would be good for Manfred and Gang to throw an idea or two into it.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2019 at 12:21 pm

      That would be nice, Orial, but not counting on it.

  8. deqalt

    July 9, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    Terrific article. No doubt it’s all about this dispute. Once the Nats became the 2nd NL team in a row it was clear .

    From what I can see this dispute is about the Nats simply not liking the original deal made when they arrived. If that is the case, why would Manfred have a beef with Orioles? It’s understandable the Orioles want to follow what was agreed on. It was the only smart thing Angelos did!

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2019 at 3:39 pm

      Actually, deqalt, the Nationals were the fourth NL team in a row to get an All-Star game (2015-18).

  9. OriolesNumber1Fan

    July 9, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Orioles definitely deserve a ASG but MLB is still holding a grudge due to the MASN dispute. Why would MLB make the schedule where the O’s have to travel from home to the west coast and have to play without having a day off for travel as they did recently. They had to when Buck managed them also. My solution would be to move the Nationals back to Montreal and give back the Orioles the area they had b4 the move. All parties would win. The O’s get their tv rights and area all to themselves as it should be. And the Nats get a new tv deal and new city stadium all to themselves. As history has showed us 2 teams in the area does not support two teams wAll parties win.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2019 at 3:41 pm

      The Nationals are a successful franchise, Number 1 Fan. They’re not going anywhere, nor are the Orioles.

  10. OriolesNumber1Fan

    July 9, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    As history has showed us the area cannot support two teams. Unless they do what the NFL and NBA does with a split evenly with tv $$$ and a salary cap. I’m not holding my breath on that though.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2019 at 3:42 pm

      In 2005, the first year of the Nationals, the two teams drew a combined 5.3 million fans. If both teams are good, that can happen again.

  11. boss61

    July 9, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Hi Rich. Sorry I have been so scarce lately. I read frequently, but not owning a business has proven to be as time-consuming as owning one was. Who knew?

    I agree with you that the Baltimore sports fans are being punished for Angelos’ position in the legal battle over the Gnats and TV rights money. I also agree with others that Angelos has worn somewhat of a black-hat abound MLB pretty much throughout his ownership. MLB arbiters of discretionary niceties are in no rush to do Angelos favors, and we the fans suffer.

    You make compelling reasons for why Texas, Toronto and others may be more deserving. I think we’d need to wait until after Philly in ’26 by the sound of things. I bet its announced as soon as PA passes away, and that it occurs before 2030. Assuming the O’s have lost left for Las Vegas or someplace like that sooner. I continue to fear that eventuality.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 9, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      I have answered a few readers about these absurd Las Vegas rumors, but please forget them. MLB will not let one of its crown jewels be abandoned. If people in Las Vegas wanted a baseball team, why wouldn’t they go after the Rays who have stadium issues and would be much cheaper to buy.

      Las Vegas is a much smaller market than Baltimore and will have an NFL team soon to go along with its NHL team. Three teams in a small market doesn’t work, Mark.

      • Jim-Considine

        July 10, 2019 at 1:09 pm

        Rich,
        * After the game last night, “Cito sucks” came into mind.
        * Was there any question that John Means would not see the pitcher’s mound?
        * The Dodgers chance to host the All-Star Game has been delayed due to the squabbles of the previous owner followed by extensive
        improvements made to the stadium.
        * The MASN problem is a battle between the Lerner scion, #136 on Forbes list of the top 400 wealthy Americans vs the blue-collar
        Angelos family whose $2.1 billion in wealth which did not crack the 2018 Forbes list. I cannot imagine how long this is going to take
        to resolve. If I want to think pessimistically, I cannot imagine the franchise surviving all this. Optimistically, Mike Ellias came here
        knowing this was hanging out there and he still took the job.

  12. boss61

    July 9, 2019 at 3:51 pm

    I hope you are right, certainly. Pretty tough bell to un-ring, for those of us who remember the Colts.

  13. GSISDANNO

    July 9, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    Rob Manfred is naive to think that nobody is connecting the MASN dispute with the Orioles’not getting the All Star Game.
    If the Orioles-Nationals agreement was so one-sided, where was MLB back then? MLB approved it so why are they supporting the Nationals in the dispute

    Peter Angelos made a shrewd deal . Now they changed their minds.

    Let the Nationals go back to Montreal.

  14. whiterose

    July 9, 2019 at 10:50 pm

    moot point since lease runs out after 2021 with no sign off extention

  15. bv22

    July 10, 2019 at 9:15 am

    The whole point of the all star game is to show off the players, the teams, and the sport in general. It doesn’t make any sense that they don’t give each team equal time in the spotlight which makes it even more absurd that historic franchises like the Dodgers and Cubs haven’t hosted an all star game in decades. I think the solution would be to alternate between AL and NL teams and starting in 2027, each year one of the teams host it until all 30 have had a chance to host it, with the cycle starting all over again 30 years down the line. That way, each team gets it’s year in the spotlight, and each team knows when it’s year is coming so it and it’s host city have years to prepare to serve as host. The current setup now leaves too many teams out.

    On another note, I agree with you that Baltimore hosting an all star game would be great for it’s civic pride and psyche, and knowing that one was coming, may lead the city gov’t to make improvements to infrastructure to pretty up the city for out of town guests, and maybe even force their hand to invest time in straightening out other local problems prior to the event.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 10, 2019 at 10:32 am

      Very insightful comments, bv, but there are teams that don’t necessarily want to host the game. For the Dodgers and the Cubs, they draw well and don’t need the boost from extra season tickets bought so that people could go to the game.

      Baltimore did a great job in 1993, and the city would be shown off again if it came back.

  16. BirdsCaps

    July 11, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    Is there any good article on the MASN (MLB NATS, and O’s) dispute? Most things I read are through either Orange, Red, or anti-ANgelos colored glasses. From my understanding, it sounds as if the Nats want to renegotiate a settled contract. However, I’m not an expert, and I have only done minimal research. I’m an O’s fan, but I don’t think too much of the Angelos regeime, so I don’t really care who’s backing out of what. I would just love to know a concise summary of the inner working s working s of the dispute.

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