MLB: The MVP of All-Star Games

Mark ZellContributor IJuly 6, 2012

The MLB All-Star Game returns to Kansas City on July 10.
The MLB All-Star Game returns to Kansas City on July 10.

We all have those moments we count as our earliest childhood memories. We may have vague recollections or mental images of events prior to these, but everyone seems to have one or two significant points from early in life which stand out above the rest.

For me, that specific memory involved watching my first baseball game from start to finish—the 1973 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. My father attended the game in our hometown of Kansas City at Royals (now Kauffman) Stadium, and I very clearly remember watching the game then staying up waiting for him to come home.

Since then, I have watched at least a good portion of every MLB All-Star Game. Next week’s Midsummer Classic, ironically hosted again in Kansas City, will mark my own personal 40th All-Star Game.

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is viewed by many, if not most, as the best of the four major sports' all-star events. I strongly concur with that sentiment.  

While the NBA All-Star Game is generally entertaining, it is strictly an offensive explosion with little-to-no defense even being feigned. While many of us enjoy the slam dunks and behind-the-back passes, the game has become purely an exhibition of offense and not a clear reflection of what constitutes “good basketball.”

Watching the NFL All-Pro Game is about as interesting as watching paint dry or grass grow. The players from the Super Bowl teams (presumably some of the best players in the league) do not participate, and those who do take part in the game are far more interested in avoiding injury than playing well, much less winning.

I am not much of an NHL fan, and several hockey diehards have told me that their All-Star Game is a great event. Unfortunately, the NHL simply lacks the fanbase and viewership of the other three major sports leagues, and for the purposes of our discussion, I do not believe its all-star event is truly on the same level—apologies to hockey fans everywhere. 

The MLB All-Star Game, in my mind at least, has established itself as the premier major sports all-star event, but in its current state, it is far from perfect.

First off, the “power that be” (singular), MLB commissioner Bud Selig, should address the issue of player selection. Currently, fan vote only determines the starting position players for the American and National Leagues. If the game is truly for the fans, then they should be allowed to select all the players—including reserves and pitchers—they would most like to see compete.

As a result of an extremely gimmicky change made in 2003, the winning league in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game receives home-field advantage in the World Series. This is the height of unfairness.

Why should players not participating in the World Series have any effect on its outcome? Please, Mr. Selig, either alternate home-field advantage between the AL and NL or allow the team with the better record to play four games in their own ballpark.

Finally, to reiterate my earlier sentiments that this entire event is for the fans of the game, let’s allow the fans to vote for the home run derby participants.   

Currently, the respective AL and NL “captains” select their sluggers for the home run derby competition. This can only result in favoritism, either overt or subconscious. I don’t believe there is truly any way for a player to be subjective in his evaluation and selection of other players.

While a few changes might have a positive impact on the game and related events, I stand by my statement that the MLB All-Star Game stands head and shoulders above any other all-star sporting event.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the game. I know I will for the 40th-straight year.