My brother and my sister have a standing $5 bet on the All-Star game. I’m not sure when they started the bet, but for the first number of years, through the 1970’s and 80’s, my sister would have to pay when the AL team fell short. Year after year, she would dutifully hand over a five spot to my grinning brother. Things are a bit different these days. The American League hasn’t lost since 1996, and my sister has come to count on that money as a steady form of income.

I don’t bet on the game, but I am a fan of the American League in the All Star Game – probably because of my Red Sox loyalties. Lately, with the success of both the Red Sox and the American League, I might be considered a frontrunner, but the amount of losing both did throughout my childhood makes me feel like a longsuffering fan rewarded.

This past Tuesday was this year’s installment of the All Star Game, and I jotted down some thoughts about it:

- The pre-game activities were actually entertaining. Seeing guys like Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, and Bob Gibson is a thrill for me, because I am a baseball buff. I think that Stan Musial is one of the most underrated all-time greats in baseball history.

But, I don’t think that I can just watch Lou Brock walk around in 2009 with a helmet-like jheri curl and not mention it. I did an old fashioned double-take when I saw him on the screen. Wow. That thing was just awesome. I wonder if he’s trying out for a role in Coming to America II?

- Speaking of appearances, country singer Sara Evans sang “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch. At least, I think it was Sara Evans – there is a strong possibility that it could have been a traffic cone with a great voice. The guys from “How I Met Your Mother” need to break out that Intervention banner and have a conversation with her about the spray tan. Step away from the orange.

- My traditional complaint about Major League Baseball is that the games start too late. It was the case once again last night. The pre-game started at 8pm EDT and got finished somewhere around 8:45pm. The game went quickly – there were many one-pitch at-bats and several times the announcers emphasized how quickly things were going and said things like, “…We’re in the seventh inning ALREADY.”

Yet, despite all of that, the game still ended at about 11:20pm EDT. On a Tuesday night. Honestly, the pregame stuff couldn’t have started at 7pm, or even 7:30pm? Or, if that’s too early because west coast adults are still at work, then how about having the game on a Sunday? Start it at 7pm eastern, and everyone can watch it. Kids will grow up and remember watching the All Star game, instead of how they went to bed in the 5th inning. Having an event during the weekend works for the NFL, it works for the Masters, it works for college football, and it works for NASCAR. Maybe it’s that the powers that be at MLB don’t want to be as successful as the NFL? It’s frustrating.

- There are good things and bad things about the fact that the All Star Game now determines home field advantage in the World Series. The good thing is that the players might try harder (which continues to make this by far the best All Star Game of the professional sports). The bad thing is that it takes away some things that would be good for the game, even if they are not strategically the best idea.

For example, Tim Wakefield made his first All Star Game at age 42. He is well regarded around the league as a nice guy who does quite a bit of charity work, but he doesn’t get into the game. Really? Never mind how fun it might be to see other catchers chase his knuckleball around, it is a travesty that he wasn’t allowed to pitch. Instead, Mark Buehrle of the White Sox got to pitch an inning – and Buehrle started the All Star Game in 2005. Come on.

Next, Victor Martinez of the Indians was intentionally walked. Some kid in Cleveland stays up and finally gets to see Martinez bat with the go ahead run on third base, and the pitcher throws four wide ones. That’s awful. We’re watching the game for the player competition. Even if it means that my brother loses his chance at five bucks, there should be no intentional walks in the All Star Game.