The 82nd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will take place this July in Phoenix, Arizona. The game is one of the greatest traditions in sports history and a fun event to watch every year.
Despite this, there are a few improvements that could be made to the All-Star Game and All-Star break in general.
Online ballots are great because they allow MLB to report higher vote totals. They're terrible for everything else. Online balloting allows anyone to vote as many times as they want. MLB claims there is a 25-vote limit per email address, but who actually has only one email address these days?
Another problem is that the vote total of an email address resets after a day or two and the email address doesn't even have to be real. If baseball went back to only at-the-park voting, this would make sure that casual fans didn't elect Derek Jeter as the starter for five straight years.
Baseball should also go back to having people collect the ballots, so people can't go and pick up 100 ballots, like I saw someone do at Nationals Park.
The idea that All-Star voting should start in mid-April is completely ridiculous. How can anyone make an educated decision when only 10 to 15 games have been played? Voting should be started on June 1st. That way, fans will have had 50 or so games to watch everyone perform and decide who is most deserving.
This could also ensure that non-starters aren't on the ballot because someone else won their position, like Marco Scutaro being on the ballot instead of Jed Lowrie. Teams have to submit their candidates for the All-Star game during spring training, but if the voting didn't start until June 1st, teams wouldn't have to submit their candidates until all starters had been decided.
This rule was a poor attempt to make the game more important and prevent another tie, like in the 2002 contest. The biggest problem with this rule is that a player can help out his rivals, or even hurt himself. If a player contributes to an All-Star game win, and then is traded to the eventual pennant winner in the other league, he contributed to his team not getting home-field advantage in the World Series.
Instead, home-field advantage should go to the team with the better record, and the All-Star game can decide if the two teams have identical records. This system isn't actually making teams play more competitively, which was the whole purpose of the rule, as managers still shuffled players in and out to try to get everyone a chance to play.
Baseball was made for kids, and grown-ups only screw it up.
This sums up why the game should be during the weekend. Baseball is losing popularity with younger people and the All-Star game is a great way to display the game's best players.
The problem is kids can't watch the game because it starts at 8:00 PM ET on a Tuesday night. Instead of the break being from Monday to Wednesday, it should be from Friday to Sunday.
I would like the schedule to look something like this (all times ET with PT in parentheses):
8 (5) PM: Futures Game.
1 PM (10 AM): Red Carpet Parade.
4 (1) PM: All-Star Game.
1 PM (10 AM): Celebrity and Legends Softball Game.
4 (1) PM: Home Run Derby, followed by other skills competitions (will be mentioned later).
Now the managers of the two All-Star teams decide all the backups, as well as the pitching staffs. This has led to a number of poor choices over the years, most notably the selection of Mike Williams in 2003. It's not necessarily the manager's fault, but they are working a very tough job and don't have time to analyze the entire league.
Instead, there should be a vote that includes all players and managers in the league. Everyone would be able to vote for anyone who is not on their team. This would hopefully lead to more educated decisions.
Starters for teams should still be elected by the fans. Not because they make the right decisions, but because it is, after all, a game for the fans. Hopefully in this system, there would be a healthy combination of popular and good players.
Many people have complained that a three-hour Home Run Derby is too long. Instead of the present format, there should only be two rounds.
In the first round, players will have five "outs" to hit as many home runs as possible. Afterwards, the two with the most homers will move on to Round 2 where they will have 10 outs, which will be added to their total from Round 1. Whoever has the most home runs over the two rounds will be declared the winner.
This will ensure that the player who has the best performance will always win, specifically Josh Hamilton. This will make the Derby significantly shorter, which will make it more exciting, and will allow more time for...
Ardolis Chapman would win the hardest thrower competition every year
The Home Run Derby is fun and exciting, but it only allows players to put one skill on display. MLB should add a variety of skill competitions to let players display all of their skills. These competitions could include:
Pitchers get three pitches to throw as fast as they can. The fastest average speed wins. This competition probably won't be competitive until Aroldis Chapman retires.
Longest Throw Contest
Whoever can throw the ball farthest wins.
Best Outfield Arm
Whoever can make the best throws to bases wins. Players would be graded on time to reach the base, as well as where it hits on a target.
Quickest time around the bases wins.
Players are placed in a rundown, with other competitors playing as fielders. If a player safely reaches base, he is given a 10-second bonus and the rundown is reset. Whoever has the best time wins.
A machine throws different pitches to a catcher, who has to block or catch them. One point is awarded for keeping a pitch in front of him, two for catching it.
A pitcher throws at a target with holes in it. He gets 10 throws to put as many through as possible.
Best Outfield Range
A machine shoots a variety of fly balls that a player tries to track down. Whoever reaches the most wins.
Whoever takes the fewest total pitches to throw five strikes at over 85 MPH and then hit five home runs wins.
This article was very helpful while making this slide.