Early Wednesday morning after almost five hours of baseball (not including pre-game festivities) the MLB All-Star game finally ended on a sacrifice fly by Texas Rangers SS Michael Young scoring the Minnesota Twins Justin Morneau. I was awake at the end of the game, but only because I fell asleep in the fourth inning and woke up in the seventh. Luckily I didn’t miss much. While the game was exciting to watch and it was fun seeing players get more than two at-bats, and pitch more than one inning there was still that worry that the Fox cameras would pan up to the commissioner’s box and Bud Selig would not be there. After Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir entered the game I was sure that this game would be ending in a tie. How could it not? All the players were used and unless Kazmir and Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge pitched multiple innings it would have to. Thankfully in the fifteenth Young saved us from that worry.
But things are not quite right with the Mid-Summer Classic. Every year the pundits and fans argue about its legitimacy, and whether the game even matters to the players involved. How Bud Selig can make the game better, or make us hate him even more. Sure the All-Star game has lost all of its luster from the days when guys named Williams, DiMaggio, Aaron and Mays played in them, but it still is the greatest collection of pro baseball players in the world. It should be one of the biggest spectacles of the season, and something that we get excited for.
Here are some changes I would make to the MLB All-Star Game:
1) More time off. An All-Star Week.
Have the break start on Monday, the game on Wednesday and the season resume on Friday or even Saturday. This gives players in the game an extra days break on both ends and players hurting four or five days to recover and help their teams when the season resumes. Scott Kazmir threw 100+ pitches on Sunday with that extra day AL Manager Terry Francona would have been more inclined to use Kazmir before the 15th inning. I know that if the season started again on Saturday a lot of clubs would not be happy with losing a Friday night game, but it would be better for clubs in playoff races in the long run. Also, with more time off maybe we could bring back the Old-Timers game and instead of Gaylord Perry with all the patches on his jersey we could get Rickey Henderson. Think about that.
2) Expanded Rosters.
This is a simple solution that could be fixed as easily as next year’s game. Add three players to each roster. We can call them alternates if you want, and that is what they will be. This season San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum was hospitalized on gameday, and NL Manager Clint Hurdle could not replace him so he was down a pitcher to start the game. If he had three alternate pitchers, who come to the game but might not pitch he could add one on gameday. As alternates they would sit in the dugout, or bullpen and only in extreme situations would they be used. Expanding the rosters with alternates helps the game, and doesn’t even let Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, or the fans think about ties.
3) Limit the innings.
Even with alternates though you can still run the risk of a game going over 15 innings, and as much as I don’t like the idea I think there needs to be a cap on the innings played. My first thought was 18 innings. That’s two full games. With the alternates you could stretch that a bit, but I think 18 innings is a good number. The fans might not like it, but seriously how many fans were still up at 1:45am? I saw how many fans had left Yankee Stadium. If a game goes three more innings we could be looking at another hour plus of baseball. I want to know who bought ad space at 3am for the All-Star Game, and who would even care if they woke up the next morning and found out the game was a tie? I wasn’t going to make it much longer Tuesday night, and I don’t think I was alone.
4) Get rid of World Series home field advantage.
I hate this. I actually hate this. It makes no sense. Do you think Kansas City Royals pitcher Joakim Soria cares who gets home field advantage? Maybe if he gets dealt at the deadline, but until then he could care less. It doesn’t make the game more exciting, and I’m sorry FOX it does not mean that “This One Matters” or whatever the line is. Home field advantage should be determined by the records not a game in the middle of July. This is a ploy to get people to watch the game, but ratings keep going down so that’s not the problem. Getting rid of this rule wouldn’t matter to anyone, and the only person upset would be Bud Selig.
Those are just a few of the changes I would like to see. Gone are the days when the All-Stars would play full games, and pitch more than three innings. Money is too important to the owners and the ballclubs to have them risk it on a meaningless game in July. Sure the players still seem to enjoy the game, and hanging out with guys they normally wouldn’t during the season, but the game will never be the same. Does that mean we should lose the game entirely? No. It still garners a decent audience on TV, and sell outs stadiums so the game shouldn’t go away.
Small changes should be made though to help the game and the teams. We all want to see the best go up against each other, but it is still an exhibition and with inter-league play we can see the leagues play one another a few times a season. Unless we get rid of that (which I wouldn’t want to do) and decrease rosters making it more of an actual game the All-Star Game will stay the same. The game can be fun, and in the past it has been but with each passing year it appears that the game is a pointless endeavor to generate dollars for the league and the owners. With the only people losing out being the fans.