Clearing The Bases
We talked last week about players that were in the All-Star game that shouldn’t be (Pablo Sandoval, Mike Napoli and others) and also talked about players that were snubbed (AJ Pierzynski, Zack Greinke, etc). Today we are going to discuss the game itself and the changes I believe should be made to make the game better. Now the MLB All-Star game is the best of the four major sports. In football and hockey there is little to no hitting as no one is willing to risk injury for a game that doesn’t matter and in basketball defense is a foreign language. In baseball, the pitchers are still trying to get the batter out and the players for all intensive purposes the game is played the way a regular season game would be played. That being said, there are things that could be done to make the game, and the week itself, better. As always, there is no order here.
This one counts: Why does the game have to count? Because of the television ratings, that’s why. Television was hounding MLB for a way to get the ratings up as they had plummeted since the game’s hay day in the 1970s. I understand baseball is a business and needs to make as much money as possible but having one game determine home field in the seventh game of the World Series seems idiotic. Why not use the league that wins the most games during interleague play or even a novel idea of awarding the team with the best record home field advantage. Why should a wild card team that just happens to play for the league that won the All-Star game be awarded home field?
Voting system: Once MLB commissioner Bud Selig in his infinite wisdom decided that this game should count, than the fans should’ve lost the right to vote. Can’t have it both ways. I have no problems with fans voting for an exhibition game. The players they want to see should be the ones playing, but now that you made the winning league have home field advantage in the World Series, well than we have to make sure that the best players are the ones going to the game. As we saw with the ballot stuffing in San Francisco, it’s way to easy to send players to this game that don’t deserve to be there.
Every team represented: Once again, if this game is just for the fans, than it’s no big deal that you have a representative from every team, but as soon as you attach some significance to the game than only the best players should be there. What makes this rule even more pathetic is that many times a team without a true all-star doesn’t even get to send their best player, but rather a player who suits what the all-star team needs. Chase Headley isn’t all all-star but should’ve been the Padres lone representative, but because the National League wanted a reliever and not another infielder, they took Huston Street instead. A man who has spent half the first half on the disabled list and who’s prime ended years ago. The best players should go regardless of whether or not every team is represented.
Players leaving early: As you can see, most of my complaints revolve around the fact that the game now “means something”. Since it does, than shouldn’t the best players play the entire game? No more of this I’ll pitch an inning, I’ll get an at-bat, and then head off to the nearest airport to get out of Dodge. In the 70s when the ASG was played with more intensity, you didn’t see the mass substitutions that you do now. If Carl Yastremski was a starter, than Yaz might just might be there when the game was on the line in the late innings.
All Players play: Once again along the lines of players leaving early. Enough with the managers trying to make sure everyone plays. The fans want to see the best players, especially late in the game. Do you want to see the Astros’ Jose Altuve batting with the game on the line against the Rays Fernando Rodney, of course not, we want to see Joey Votto or Carlos Gonzalez, but those players will be long gone by the ninth inning.
Managers picking reserves: Why would you want to put the manager’s in this situation? No matter what he does he can’t win. Take Tony LaRussa for example. He was criticized and rightfully so for not selecting Johnny Cueto or Zach Greinke. Some people claiming there as a conspiracy by LaRussa not to take Cueto because of a brawl between the Cardinals and Reds. A brawl in which Cueto kicked the Card’s Jason LaRue in the head. Why not have the League presidents make the picks or even a consensus among general managers.
Move game to Wednesday: I love the fact that baseball now has four days off All-Star Week. Usually Thursday was a game day for some teams. Assuming this continues, than why not play the game on Wednesday, this way players who had to pitch on Sunday for the team could still participate in the All-Star game.
Start game earlier: This game really is for the kids. A chance for them to see their favorite players. Unfortunately, like the World Series, most kids will have fallen asleep well before the game is over, even though it is summertime and school is out.
Futures game: If you don’t care about the top minor leaguers than you probably don’t care about the future’s game. The game is played during the later afternoon the Sunday before the ASG. Why not move the game to Wednesday. There are no other games being played and you would have the entire sports world watching. Makes more sense than playing on a Sunday when other MLB games are being played.
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