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Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Updated: February 19, 1:39 PM ET
Who has the best all-star game?

By Mike Philbrick
Page 2

It's impossible to ignore an all-star game.

And not just because of the break in the action in the middle of a season. There's all the unavoidable chatter about where the game is going to be, where it's going to be next, who made the team, who should have made the team, who is going to be in the (insert skill competition here), who backed out with an "injury" … the list goes on and on.

(Yes, this is supposed to be an exhibition that's essentially worthless -- but so is preseason football and most people live and die by that, so let's just move on.)

In all of this there's still one question for you: Which all-star game is the best?

All opinions on the games, the experience and whether every all-star game for every sport should always be held in Vegas will be kept to our Page 2 self, because we're finally starting to realize no one cares what we think.

Maybe you like the Pro Bowl so much you can't hear aloha without getting a little choked up. Maybe you like hockey so much you shoot pucks at your mom's china longing for the next All-Star Game.

There's a lot to consider here, so we officially ask you: Which all-star game is the best?

MLB All-Star Game
 
Major League Baseball
When: Mid-July

Where in 2007: San Francisco's AT&T Park

History: Give or take a couple ties and a break during World War II, the game has been played every year since 1933, with the National League holding the series lead 41-34. Ever since the dubious tie in 2002 (held right in commissioner Bud Selig's Miller Park) the winner of the game has determined which league has home field in the World Series.

Snub factor: Very High. The stories of who didn't make the All-Star team are often more voluminous than those who made it. Then there's the annual debate: Do you give spots to the high-profile players the people want to see or to the guy who is having a great half-season (see: Roberts, Brian, 2005).

Other than "The Game":
All-Star FanFest: Interactive fan carnival. A staple at all All-Star Games.

MLB Futures Game: Top minor league prospects are divided into two teams: the U.S. team and the World team (based on place of birth). The game is only seven innings and a pitcher can go only one inning. Past MVPs include Alfonso Soriano and Grady Sizemore.

MLB Legends-Celebrity Softball Game: As Denny Green would say, this is what we think it is.

Home Run Derby: The definitive event at the All-Star Game since the event's inception in 1985 -- but it's hard to gauge its true importance because, let's be honest, there isn't any credible sports competition that day, so the Derby gets tons of hype almost by default. Don't believe me? OK, who won the last three? Don't go to Google -- just admit you don't know.

Ticket price range on StubHub: All-Star Sunday (Futures Game and Legends-Celebrity Softball Game): Range of ticket prices to date: $49-$5,000

Workout Day and Home Run Derby: Range of ticket prices to date: $310-$10,000

All-Star Game: Range of ticket prices to date: $550-$25,000

2006 average prices, PNC Park, Pittsburgh:
All-Star Saturday: $48
Workout Day and Home Run Derby: $237
All-Star Game: $702

Uni Watch's take: The Good | The Bad | The Weird

NBA All-Star Game
 
National Basketball Association
When: Mid-February

Where in 2007: Las Vegas' Thomas & Mack Arena, home of the UNLV Runnin' Rebels -- the first game not to be held in an NBA arena.

History: With the exception of the 1998-99 lockout, the NBA All-Star Game has been played since 1951 using the current East vs. West format.

Snub factor: Medium to once-in-a-while high, depending on how many past All-Stars or star players from first-place teams are left off.

Other than "The Game": When it comes to competition, no one offers more during the All-Star break than the NBA.

NBA All-Star Jam Session: Interactive fan carnival.

All-Star Celebrity Game: Where else can you see Carrot Top posting up Reggie Bush? Hopefully nowhere.

Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam: Also known as the rookies versus sophomores game.

D-League All-Star Game: This used to be called "Damn! Why did I listen to that guy and enter the draft!?" -- but it didn't fit on the jerseys.

Slam Dunk contest: If you don't know what this is, go back to reading old issues of the Saturday Evening Post.

Skills Challenge: One of the newer elements of All-Star Saturday, it's an obstacle course that combines shooting, passing and dribbling. Dwyane Wade will be on hand to defend his title.

Three-Point Shootout: Defending champ Dirk Nowitzki carries the mantle of white NBA players past and present on Saturday night.

Shooting Stars: Take a current NBA player, the team's WNBA equivalent and add a retired player and you have your Shooting Stars team. The game is this: teams have to make shots from six different places on the court with the final shot being from halfcourt. Basically, you're battling the clock.

Ticket price range on StubHub:
ALL WEEKEND EVENTS:
NBA All-Star Jam Session: Average price $65, range $20-$89

FRIDAY EVENTS:
NBA All-Star Celebrity Game: Average price $252, range $167-$501
NBA All-Star Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam: Average price $634, range $525-$1,001

SATURDAY EVENTS:
NBA All-Star Practice: Average price: $324, range $175-$475

NBA All-Star Saturday Tickets (featuring dunk contest, skills challenge, three-point shootout, shooting stars competition): Average price $1,861, range $853-3,373

SUNDAY EVENTS:
All-Star Game: Average price $3,504, range $1,412-$16,113

Uni Watch's take:
The Good: 2000 | 2002 | 2003 | 2005 | 2006

The Bad: 1992

The Totally Weird: 1995 | 1996

Pro Bowl
 
National Football League
When: Sunday after the Super Bowl

Where in 2007: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu (home of the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football team). The game has been held there since 1980.

History: Held every year without interruption since 1951 and has been the AFC versus NFC ever since the merger with the AFL in 1970.

Snub factor: Medium. I can't believe (insert name of left tackle here) did get in! See, you don't get a lot of complaining -- that is until this year when Tom Brady was left off the AFC roster, which apparently is un-American.

Other than "The Game":
Skills competition: Organized not by the league, but by Players, Inc. -- the marketing arm of the NFLPA. Shown as a two-hour show on the NFL Network … but only a 10-minute version is played on CBS.

Split the Uprights: It's like playing HORSE in basketball, but you're spelling KICK.

The Strongest Man: How many times can you bench 225 pounds? Most reps wins.

Best Hands: Catch the ball while running through an obstacle course. Not only do you have to catch it, but you're playing against the clock as well.

The Open Field: Series of drills that test agility, footwork, endurance and athleticism. Once again, you're going against the clock.

On the Mark: QBs go to four different stations where they try and hit a target. Not only are you going for accuracy, but time.

The Fastest Man: Shocker … guys run a 40. Fastest guy is the official Fastest Man.

Legends Flag Football Game: Former players go four-on-four in your standard game of flag football.

Ticket price range on StubHub: 2007 Pro Bowl: Average price $133, range $30-$648

Uni Watch's take:
The Good | The Bad | The Really, Really Weird

NHL All-Star Game
 
National Hockey League
When: Early/mid-February

Where in 2007: American Airlines Center, home of the Dallas Stars.

History: This game has a long history filled with labor woes and the Olympic Games causing various cancellations as well as the league changing formats from time to time. Currently, it's Western Conference versus Eastern Conference, but past games have included North America versus the World (1998-2002), and competitions between NHL All-Stars and the Soviet Union (1987 and 1979).

Snub factor: Low, except when the story is about ballot box stuffing, which Rory Fitzpatrick taught us in 2007.

Other than "The Game":
YoungStars Game: Four-on-four game featuring the under-25 players.

SuperSkills Competition: Series of events in which the cumulative score awards a win to the conference with the most points.

Puck Control Relay: Take the puck, around the ice you go and pass it off to your teammate. Also an individual event as well.

Fastest Skater: Ready. Set. Go.

Hardest Shot: This is almost as easy to describe as the fastest skater.

Shooting Accuracy: Line up the puck and smack it at the targets in the net.

Shootout/In The Zone: Points awarded in three rounds of shootouts give conference team a point and the goalies' goals allowed counts toward the In The Zone competition to determine the best goalie.

One-On-One Shootout: Conducted like real shootouts, but the winning team gets three points (a little like the red-white-and-blue ball in the NBA's three-point shootout).

Ticket price range on StubHub:
NHL All-Star Game: Average price $205, range $35-$1,429

NHL All-Star SuperSkills Competition: Average price $151, range $20-$1,000

Uni Watch's take:
The Good: Part I | Part II | Part III

The Bad: Part I | Part II

The Weird: Part I | Part II

Mike Philbrick is an editor for Page 2. You can reach him at michael.w.philbrick@espn3.com