While driving home from Camp M, I was listening to Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio via satellite and caught more than an earful on the subject of players being used in Tuesday's All Star Game. What struck me as odd is how much the nature of the game has changed since I was a kid and even over the last few years.
When I was growing up, the MLB All Star Game was a must see event. Since there was no cable and the only inter-league games were preseason and the World Series, this was the only opportunity to see all the star players, especially those from the other league. However over time the novelty began to fade as soon out of market games could be seen on cable and later on the Web. Similarly, in and around 1996 the league began to play interleague games and the players became more easy to see.
As interest in the All Star Game dwindled, MLB tried a new wrinkle - the game would count. The league which won the All Star Game would get the extra home game in the World Series. Although this may have meant little to the players (since only one team from each league makes the World Series) it was more meaningful to the fans.
But as the meaning of the game has now began an upward swing, the meaning of the game to the teams seems to have dwindled. The news reports which I referred to earlier involved teams who were manipulating the roster so that their star pitchers would be ineligible to pitch. Similarly, there was a story of a manager who had purportedly contacted his league's manager and requested that his pitcher not be used in the game. Mike & Mike interpreted this last request as a statement of "we pay this guy $X million to pitch for us, if he is going to get hurt in a game, it will be in a game that counts for us."
This would have been unheard of twenty years ago and probably is still troubling to some of today's players. The All Star Game had been an event - something that a player dreamed of playing in. Now, the team was looking to deprive the selected ball player from participating in the event.
A player looking at this could be consumed with feeling how unfair it is that the player was not allowed to play in the game or even that another player took his place. But still, if this is what saves the player and allows the team to succeed, or conversely if the player is hurt in the all star game and cannot play, there was a reason that the player did or did not participate in the game.
These news reports reminded me of a story that R' Frand told last Thursday night.
R' Frand told a story about Eli Greengart who works in Yeshivas Ner Israel in Baltimore. During a shabbos sheva berachos a few weeks ago the family realized that their three year old child was missing. The family frantically looked for him and he was found in the deep end of the pool. They airlifted the child to Westchester County Medical Center and the child has b'h recovered completely.
R' Frand explained that both Eli and his wife are from Silver Spring, Maryland and that a similar drowning accident story had happened in Silver Spring 18-19 years earlier, albeit with a more troubling outcome as the child was in a coma for 17 years. Eli used to visit with the coma patient and help bathe him. Now, many years later Hashem had been performed for him.
R' Frand closed the vort by saying that it is difficult to try to correlate events and say that things happened the way that they did because of Eli's acts, but one can speculate if maybe the acts of chesed were recognized by Hashem and resulted in his child being saved.
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