Midsummer Flop: MLB All-Star Events Are a Joke
The Midsummer Classic consists of three events: All-Star Sunday, the Home Run Derby, and the All-Star Game. Each event is a joke. The MLB, which is arguably the best and most successful league in the US, has by far the worst All-Star Game and related events out of the four major sports.
(Note: Some think the NFL Pro Bowl is the worst, but the NFL really can't do anything to change it. Given the rigor of the NFL season, it has to take place after the Super Bowl, and that's why it's not as popular as the NFL would hope.)
Let's begin with All-Star Sunday. This day consists of two events: the Futures Game and the Celebrity/Legends softball game.
The Futures Game is cool because it gives a lot of the fans an opportunity to watch rising stars who are currently in the minor leagues. These players will be the faces of the MLB in a few years, and it's nice that they can showcase their talents on a bigger stage than usual.
The problem with the Futures Game, however, is that it takes place on Sunday, when actual MLB games are still scheduled. So instead of fans watching the Futures Game, they are watching their favorite team playing a meaningful game.
Major League Baseball can't expect fans to watch the Futures Game while actual games are taking place. It's terribly poor scheduling on the MLB's part.
As far as the softball game goes, while it may be entertaining to watch, no one really cares.
Next, the Home Run Derby. In years past, the Home Run Derby has been pretty fun to watch, especially when players like Josh Hamilton put on unbelievable performances, as he did at Yankee Stadium in 2008.
The only problem is, the best sluggers don't always participate in the Derby.
While the players can't be blamed, since they don't want to mess up their swings, it ruins the Derby a little bit.
Plus, this year's lineup is underwhelming to say the least. I mean, Hanley Ramirez, Nick Swisher, and Chris Young? Really? Those aren't the names we usually associate with home runs.
Out of the eight HR Derby participants, the average number of home runs this season is 17. That's tied for seventh place this season.
It's disappointing that the best sluggers don't participate in the Derby. A HR Derby without the best home run hitters in the MLB is like a Slam Dunk Contest without Michael Jordan.
And while some of the better dunkers in the Dunk Contest don't participate nowadays, Nate Robinson and Dwight Howard are still more exciting to watch than this year's Derby lineup.
Lastly, the All-Star Game. I've been writing quite a bit about how I hate the All-Star Game. I hate it because it counts for home field advantage in the World Series while fan voting still exists. I hate it because of the amount of snubs each year. And I hate it because, quite frankly, I think it is boring.
In every other sport, the All-Star Game is just an exhibition game, and the best players play in the game. There's no Omar Infante's in any other sport's ASG.
While baseball commissioner Bud Selig thinks that some of the recent amendments make the All-Star Game better, the truth is, they actually make it worse.
I think there are simple solutions to these problems.
For the Futures Game, schedule it on Monday during prime time, and push the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game back a day. Since nothing goes on on the Wednesday after the ASG, it's not a problem to push everything back. Plus, pushing everything back ensures that more people can watch the Futures Game.
For the Home Run Derby, take the eight players with the greatest number of home runs this year. That ensures that the best home run hitters actually participate in the game. While there is still a chance that players back out, I think if the competition is better, each player will be more likely to participate, and prove that they are in fact the best HR hitter in the MLB.
For the All-Star Game, make it an exhibition game again, first and foremost. That way, the managers don't have to "play to win" and can showcase the best talent in the MLB instead.
Maybe the MLB should also revisit fan voting. Fan voting makes it a popularity contest, where the players that play in major markets have a better chance of starting than other deserving players who play in smaller cities.
While eliminating fan voting is less fan friendly, at least more deserving players will be named to the ASG as a result. And I would hope that, for baseball fans, the most important thing is that the best players are actually the ones playing in the All-Star Game.
Until commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball decides to make the necessary changes to the All-Star Game and its events, it will remain a joke.
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