Ads for the All-Star Game: A Harsh Retrospective

2006

The gist:  2006′s cream of the crop commit atrocious safety violations atop a steel structure in Pittsburgh.

This was goofy even for MLB commercials.  We’ve got beams falling, guys jumping to what we can only assume if their death, players hammering in nails with bats and balls instead of hammers.  From a steelwroker’s perspective, this commercial was a nightmare come to life.

Of course, 2006 was the advent of “This One Counts,” MLB’s attempt to make the All-Star game more watchable by giving the winning side home field advantage in the World Series.  This, of course, only matters to the six teams who are (or believes themselves to be) in contention, which seems especially unfair to the host city, considering I don’t even have to consult Wikipedia to find out if they were one of them.

But 2006 did see the Pirates tie the Indians for most times hosting the All-Star game by a single franchise!  Baseball:  Dig deep enough, and everyone’s a winner.

I know these guys aren’t actors, so I’m not looking for a resounding performance (“You’re playing yourself, but cartwheeling around at a construction site!  Okay, action.”) but the players look like they were just given a set of actions to do and the producers decided “Eh, we’ll throw it together when we think of something other than that ‘work site’ idea.”

“If they only knew” moment:  Look, its baseball legend Barry Bonds!

2007

The gist: None of this “This One Counts” crap or Ichiro mugging for the camera; we’ve got people fleeing for their lives, screaming in terror, and wanton property destruction as two trolleys full of laughing professional baseball players tear through San Francisco.

Now this is an All-Star Game commercial.

Just after the crowds of what appears to be a high school marching band scramble desperately to get out of their way, we see the NL trolley is piloted by Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who share a hearty chuckle at the notion of vehicular homicide.  Meanwhile, Roy Halladay doesn’t let signs like “Road Closed” stop him from enjoying his illegal street racing and hurls a fastball so hard the sign explodes into a million pieces.

How do you direct Roy Halladay on a set?  Does he listen?  Does he talk?  I would just be grateful he allowed me to stand near him and tell him that he should just do what feels natural; which clearly this director did not say, because Roy’s got a big ‘ol smile on his face.  Also a Blue Jays uniform.

All of this madness ends with both teams piloting their respective trolleys off a dock and into McCovey Cove, where we can only assume they all drown to death, still cackling with insanity at the sheer chaos they have unleashed on the streets of San Fran.

You’ll notice it still says “This One Counts” on screen.  Clearly a typo, this was meant to read “It Still Counts.”  Or possibly “There’s Nothing Funny About Hijacking Public Transportation.”  Both of which would have been much more accurate mantras.

As a sidenote, I didn’t see many/any Red Sox populating this one.  Didn’t they go all the way in ’07?

“If they only knew” moment: Johan Santana cockily nodding in a Twins uniform at some snarky looking Mets.  Don’t worry, soon you guys will be the best of friends!  Also, look, its baseball icon Barry Bonds!

2008

The gist:  Not only do we get a soundtrack, we get a narrator, and boy, both aspects really make you appreciate just how important the last All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium really is going to be.  Though I guess New York had to take what it could get in 2008.

It might be worth mentioning that this was also Shea Stadium’s last year in existence, and no All-Star Game was played there.

Anyways, giant mechanized fold-outs of ball players are slowly sprawling across the New York skyline, so nobody even had to ask real ball players to do any ridiculous motion capture work for this one.  Though there was no real reason to give the guys a year off in 2008, because apparently, this one apparently didn’t count.  Or if it did, nobody went out of their to inform us.

Oh!  Scratch that.  We get a glimpse dynamic duo Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, wearing suits while signing autographs for children, prompting Youtube commenters/exclamation point enthusiasts to tell us this was “The best Baseball commercial ever!!!!! New York is the best city we have the best fans we have the best baseball team, Greatness comes in navy blue pinstripes!!!!”  And you probably can’t tell, but all of the children have terminal diseases.

So, you know.  Go Yankees.

“If they only knew” moment:  This was as close to a playoff game atmosphere as they were going to get anywhere in New York.

2009

The gist: Instead of runaway trolleys like 2007, this year we got the hand of God performing mass kidnappings across the country, using the St. Louis Arch as a magnet for baseball talent.  This is not an acid trip.

We open with Ryan Howard and Derek Jeter standing next to each other at first base.  Jeter is clearly thinking about stealing, while Howard is thinking about the best method to eat Jeter whole without anyone noticing.  They are both swept away by the Arch as it heads to New York, where David Wright and Jose Reyes claw their way onboard, followed by a stop at Wrigley Field, where it seems the Arch takes off before any Cubs manage to climb on.

What I don’t get is why fans are also being pulled away from their loved ones.  Are they All-Star fans?  What does that mean?  Are they truly the best fans?  Or are they those extremely rare breed of fans who only watch the All-Star Game?  I find both notions difficult to believe, especially when they cut to that douche with the phone.  What the hell is he doing there?  Get off of my monitor.

What is it with Ichiro’s eyes?  Producers must love that he’ll shift his pupils back and forth like a cartoon character.  He did it during the Steel Mill Disaster of 2006, and they have him do it again here, as Mariano Rivera laughs in his face.  Is he known for that or something?  Is that his trademark?

Well, none of it matters, because as everybody arrives in St. Louis, Albert Pujols is standing there stoically, looking like a man prepared to defend his home with reckless, unabashed violence.  In the end, isn’t that what the All-Star Game is really about?

“If they only knew” moment:  Ryan Theriot was not an All-Star in 2009.  Hey, has anybody seen baseball mainstay Barry Bonds?

2010

The gist:  Sand invades every Major League stadium, The Mummy-style, and teleports our All-Stars to LA, where they turn out to be miniature versions of themselves and are for some reason part of a sick kid’s sand castle/god complex.

0:37: Oh yeah.  Timmy Linceum’s hitting that.

Usually, when the first thing I hear is Joe Buck’s voice, I head for the hills, because you know Tim McCarver’s most recent abortion of talking is probably right behind him.  Also, Joe Buck is a big enough douche to have been cast as “Guy with Phone” in 2009′s commercial.

How many have these have opened with Derek Jeter?  All of them?  And while I appreciate the shout outs to Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth, they are by no means connected to the Midsummer Classic this year, which makes me wonder when they actually film these ads.

“Yeah, you guys will probably have turned it around by mid-July, so why don’t we go ahead an put both of you in there?”

Also, 2010 was Ryan Howard’s turn to do some acting, and boy, I have never seen someone give falling sand a more inquisitive look.  He kind of looks like he’s suffering an allergic reaction to something and its far, far too late to call for help.

Maybe I’m reading too far into this particular 60-second advertisement, but what the hell is happening at the end?  Did we get a “Twilight Zone” style twist at the conclusion of this one?  We’re under the impression everybody’s headed to Los Angeles for some good old fashioned “This One Counts”-ing (Yeah, its back this year), but by the end, we discover that not only have both All-Star teams been shrunk down to the size of action figures, but they are being forced to play in some little kid’s sand castle.

How do we know “baseball” is even what he wants them to play?  He could be pitting them against each other like gladiators, or dropping monstrous rats in there to devour them on by one while he chortles from above.  THEY ARE PUPPETS IN HIS SICK THEATRE.

“If they only knew” moment:  You’ve got to wonder just how ridiculous the NL guys feel filming these commercials when they haven’t managed to win an All-Star game in 13 years.

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Tags: AL East Albert Pujols All-Star Game Chase Utley David Wright Derek Jeter Ichiro NL West Ryan Howard

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