Each year I am reminded that summer is already half over by two things: Fourth of July weekend and the arrival of Major League Baseball’s All-Star game.
It’s that time of year once again as the press conference announcing the line-ups was this afternoon. As baseball fans know, the All-Star game’s starting line-up is decided by the fans through voting held in each stadium and online; however, this method has not always been used. The early years of the Midsummer classic (1935-1946) saw the managers select the teams. In 1947 the league opened up the selection duties to the fans; this method continued until 1957 when the Reds were caught stuffing the ballot boxes. The fans were not allowed to vote again until 1970 when MLB made an effort to revive the game after there were two All-Star games for a few seasons. (These double games explain how Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, & Willie Mays have 20+ ASG appearances.)
For the most part, this remained the status quo until 2002 when everything changed.
The 2002 season saw the baseball All-Stars align in Commissioner Selig’s hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Unfortunately for the man with his name on every baseball, both teams ran out of relief pitchers and the game ended in a tie after 11 innings. Fans nationwide, especially those in Miller Park, were outraged and Selig had to do something to make up for this disaster.
His ingenious decision?
Take the exhibition out of the All-Star game, make it mean something. The winner was given a prize and not a small prize, either. The winning league was given home field advantage in the World Series.
“Yeah, yeah, we know Ethan. Why does this matter??”
How can something as vital as home-field advantage be decided by teams that are decided by fans? The All-Star game has become a popularity contest. Players are not always selected by how deserving they are but rather how popular they are. Certain teams even go great lengths to have their players selected regardless of skill. Do these teams realize that they may have a better opportunity at home field advantage if they let more talented players from other teams represent their league?
If the All-Star game is going to directly impact the results of the World Series, the league’s knowledgeable players and coaches should select the teams in whole. I also believe a meaningful All-Star game should not require every team be represented. The best team possible should be sent to the All-Star game if it’s going to decide home-field advantage. If the fans want to have the All-Star game be created by the fans, then it should not have any meaning.
I do not want my team or any other team to make it to the World Series just to have it slip away due to the disadvantage of losing the All-Star game played by the league’s FAVORITE players rather than the league’s BEST players.
Other All-Star Thoughts
Am I the only one that thinks it is a sign that they have to change the format to the HR Derby nearly every year? If it was so entertaining they wouldn’t be constantly making changes. How about we add a skill competition to the mix much like the NHL does? Let’s put Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton on first base and see how fast they can run first to third. Then we could put Puig and Cespedes in centerfield and time their throws to home. While we’re at it we can have Brandon Crawford and Simmons take turns trying to throw out runners from deep in the hole. Who wouldn’t want to see Yadi and Montero take turns trying to gun out runners? “I don’t know.. sounds dangerous.” These competitions wouldn’t have to be anything more extreme than what they would do in any other regular game. The NFL took great steps toward fixing the Pro-Bowl and I think there is no reason MLB can’t fix their All-Star activities as well.
2014 All-Star Preview
For yet another year I believe that the American League’s line-up trumps what the National League is trotting out there. However, also following past trends, I believe that the National League’s pitching staff is slightly more superior. Hernandez and Wainwright completely deserve the starting roles with their statistics to this point. The Jeter story is going to be fun to watch much like Mariano last year. It will also be interesting to see how Jeter preforms as, statistically, he is one of the weakest players on either roster this year. Will the pomp & circumstance of Jeter’s farewell tour end up hurting the American League’s chances? We will see. If you want further reading I highly suggest researching veteran reliever Pat Neshek’s journey to the All-Star game in his hometown.
How do you feel about the All-Star game? Take the poll and let me know in the comments below.