The National League thrashed the American League in Kansas City Tuesday night, 8-0.
This means at least one player in the visiting dugout at Kauffman Stadium helped his team’s eventual cause in the forthcoming World Series while at least one other may have unwittingly given a boost to an arch-rival.
It’s times like these when those who have a penchant for pucks over any other sport have to roll their eyes and tell another league, in this case Major League Baseball, “I love you and respect you, but…”
Even before the MLB solved one problem while creating another, namely averting All-Star Game ties by allowing it to influence the playoffs, there were other reasons why its midseason exhibition didn’t measure up with that of the NHL.
Those reasons still exist, but should be easy enough to fix.
If baseball were to follow the NHL’s lead in each of the following four departments, the annual AL-NL tilt would be much easier to sit through from start to finish. It might even open the door to more novel All-Star matchups a la the NHL’s defunct North America-World card or its current fantasy draft format.
Although school is out in July, not every adult of every profession has time off through the duration of the summer.
There are thus countless baseball buffs who are going through yet another regular work week as you read this. They all had to choose between self-imposed sleep deprivation and turning in well before the final out, which occurred more than a quarter after 11 in the eastern time zone.
So why does the MLB believe that a Monday evening is the best time to hold the Home Run Derby and Tuesday its All-Star Game?
The NHL has the right idea with the skills competition being held on a Saturday night, followed by the All-Star Game on a Sunday afternoon. Year-round, people simply have collectively fewer commitments on the weekend and are thus more likely to make time for televised sporting events.
If baseball wants to assure itself more viewers who will tune in and more who will stick around to the end, it can start by having the derby on a Friday night and the game at any time after noon on Saturday.
The first night of the MLB All-Star break would be much more intriguing if more than just slugging skills were showcased. Why not have the heavy hitters go only one round apiece, then have some top pitchers in a fastest fastball contest, then a base-stealing contest and so on?
At least there is a way to get all of hockey’s All-Stars involved on both days of the on-ice festivities.
The selected representatives of the American and National League all wear uniforms that are, well, uniform and indicative of their league.
Or, at least, they wear them when only a handful are actually doing something while the rest are spectators.
For some reason, those AL and NL jerseys are worn during the Home Run Derby, yet the next night everyone makes the actual All-Star Game look like a ragtag event.
Is this The Sandlot or a serious game? Well, actually, that brings us to the last point.
Why would anyone, as hinted in a previous slide, be especially keen on staying up for the conclusion of the MLB All-Star Game, sleep be darned?
Because for a full decade now, home-field advantage in the World Series has been on the line and decided a good three months before we even know who has won each pennant.
Granted, only twice under this format (2004 and 2011) has the participant with the better record been forced to play the first two World Series games on the road. Nonetheless, the most commonsensical approach of basing home-field distribution on regular-season records was due to arrive in baseball long ago, kind of like instant replay.
The NHL has its own problem with divisional “champions” sometimes claiming an unearned third seed and hosting a mathematically better sixth seed in Game 7 of the first round. But at least hockey has never forgotten that the All-Star Game and all of its surrounding events are supposed to be a relaxed, energizing midseason diversion from intense competition.