The 2014 MLB All-Star game was outstanding. It pitted some of the best young players in baseball against one another to decide home-field advantage in the World Series. The city of Minnesota did an amazing job hosting the three-day event and one of the greatest players in the modern era was celebrated as the truly amazing person that he is.
But one thing was missing. At a time when many celebrate the greats of the past, current players included, MLB forgot about one guy that helped shape the game that we see today. A guy that was among the greatest hitters in the long and heralded history of the game.
Tony Gwynn passed away at the age of 44 a month ago today after a long battle with cancer. A career .338 hitter who made 15 All-Star appearances, Gwynn embodied the throwback to an earlier era in baseball when it was common for a player to suit up for one team throughout his entire career. Mr Padre, as he was called, also represented what it meant to be a hard worker and veteran leader.
Not a single bad word could be said about Gwynn. He was a gentleman off the field, a leader on the field and a great ambassador for the sport. So why forget about him completely during the All-Star festivities? Was MLB afraid to celebrate a player who passed away due to a cancer that was caused by chewing tobacco? Did it just drop the ball and forget completely?
Because, on the surface, ignoring his life and death makes absolutely no sense. It makes no sense in a vacuum by itself. But it makes even less sense when the entire baseball world was getting on its knees to pay homage to Derek Jeter in his final All-Star game.
— MLB (@MLB) July 16, 2014
As much as we respect Jeter for the player and man he is, why couldn’t we take just a few minutes out of that parade down Yankee Street to pay our respects to a player that meant just as much to the game of baseball?
Others felt it was necessary to speak out on what has to be considered a major fail on the part of MLB.
— Dave Winfield (@DaveWinfieldHOF) July 16, 2014
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) July 16, 2014
Orioles Adam Jones writes TG19 on cap in honor of Tony Gwynn: pic.twitter.com/xRN5YFX0rO
— Uniforms Nation (@uniformsnation) July 16, 2014
Part of what makes baseball so great is its past. From The National Association of Base Ball Players during the Civil War era to the golden age of baseball midway through the 20th century, this is sport that is wrapped up so deep into its history that some of the greats of the past still seem to be haunting us when we take to Fenway Park or Wrigley Field.
The past is more a part of baseball than any other major professional sport in the world. And Tony Gwynn IS a vital part of that past. He’s one of the reasons we are here today. He’s a legend in the baseball circles and respected by even the youngest of players in the game today.
MLB should be absolutely ashamed of itself right now. There really is no other conclusion to be drawn. It’s fine and dandy to respect Jeter and his amazing career, but you cannot simply ignore the career and life of a great that passed away just a few handful of days prior to the event.
Shame on you, Bud Selig. Shame you on, Fox.
That’s my two cents.
Photo: NY Post