Out Pick Nick

With the football season officially over, sports fans are scrambling for something to get them through a cold, snowy winter. This also leaves the Out Pick Nick feature scrambling for topics.

So instead of the same old pick a winner and see who gets it right routine you as readers have become accustomed to, we decided send the print version of the Free Press off in style by putting you in the driver seat.

As you may or may not have heard, the Free Press will be going exclusively online next issue.

In preparation, Matt and I thought what better way to get people excited about this historic transformation than to start up a debate and have you, our faithful followers, continue it on the new and improved Free Press website.

With NBA All-Star weekend quickly approaching, it got us to thinking: What is the best All-Star celebration in sports? And we are not just talking about the actual game itself. While it is a major component, we are looking for the total package. From the events building up to the big game, the venue, the stars that show, and the intensity of the game, what is the ultimate experience for the avid sports fan?

Once you’ve heard our take, it’s time to share yours. Log on to the Free Press website, vote on our interactive poll, add a comment and let your voice be heard. We thank you for your support and look forward to feeding your sports craving in the future as we transition onto the World Wide Web.

According to Matt:

The NBA All Star game festivities provide the fans with more options than the NFL. The NBA puts on the All Star game, Freshman-Sophomore game, Slam Dunk contest, and Skills Competition. The actual games are meaningless and it is not surprising to see scores reach upwards of 160 to 155. The game is a glorified slam dunk contest. Speaking of the Slam Dunk contest, the once famous event is now an afterthought. Long gone are the days of Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, and Spud Webb who innovated and created dunks. Unfortunately, there are only so many dunks that can be created and today’s participants simply utilize dunks from the past. The fans have seen it all before and the allure of the dunk is gone because it now makes up the entire NBA.

In the beginning days of the contest, the slam dunk was new and exciting. Today, all one has to do is watch a regular season game to see a multitude of dunks.

That leaves Major League Baseball’s All Star festivities as the only sport whose premiere game

really does mean something. After the debacle in Milwaukee, in which the game ended in a tie, the league decided to let the game carry some weight. The league that wins this All Star game wins the right to home field advantage in the World Series. Home field advantage is crucial in baseball because the team that has this right will be at home for games 1 and 2, and most importantly for games 6 and 7. MLB’s All Star game is also debatable because everyone must play and pitchers are limited to one inning. Despite these limitations, the strategy involved in this game exceeds the other sports. A manager determines a lineup and the pitching rotation.

Most importantly, the players are playing for something more. They, in essence, are playing for October. As a result, I can respect this game and the effort put forth more than any ohter sport.

According to Nick:

The NHL offers a skills competition that is fun to watch and this year introduced an interesting concept by allowing the two captains to pick the teams. While the game was full with plenty of action and actually turned out to be a pretty competitive game, does the NHL have enough gusto in America to win a popularity contest against the likes of the NFL, MLB, and NBA?

The mid-summer classic was far and away my favorite All-Star event to watch as a kid. Whether it was watching Ken Griffey Jr. outslug guys twice his size or listening to the one and only Chris Berman yell “Back, back, back, back…” the Home-Run derby never disappointed. The Legends and Celebrities softball afterward is always an entertaining time as well.

The actual game itself used to be the best as well. Every team was represented by at least one player and the managers were more concerned about getting every player in the game than actually managing to win just like all 162 other games during the regular season. Every fan got to see their star out there competing with the best in the game and for one night there were no first place teams or bottom dwellers, just men playing a kids game and kids looking up to their heroes.

The game was great until Bud Selig crumpled under pressure from media following the Milwaukee tie fiasco a few years back and decided to take the “exhibition” tag off of the game.

In a game built to stand the test of time by consistency and tradition, to put home field advantage in the World Series on the line to appease a few critics succeeded only in taking away from the fun and entertaining atmosphere of this annual spectacle. Chew on this, Jonathan Broxton saved the game for the NL to help secure home field advantage for the rival Giants who used it to bring home a championship, bizarre to say the least.

That leaves the NBA All-Star weekend. Aside from the fact that Yao’s billion plus off shore votes helps make a mockery of the election process, with multiple skills completions, Rookie- Sophomore ALL-Star game, the Slam Dunk Contest, and a game that often offers nearly 300 points, what more can you ask for in terms of entertainment? While the dunk contest has been lacking for star power in recent years, Blake Griffin promises to restore the contest back to prominence and if Mr. James can but his prima donna ego aside for one night, the contest has the ability to become must see TV once again.