MLB All Star Game 2011: How to Improve the Midsummer Classic

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MLB All Star Game 2011: How to Improve the Midsummer Classic
Hunter Martin/Getty Images
You won't see Cole Hamels playing today.

The MLB All-Star Game is clearly not perfect, but like it or not, the whole concept of an All-Star game this day and age is a misnomer.

As much as baseball fans want to see the best players come together and celebrate baseball, the incentive for players in this "me" generation is lacking.

The MLB also has a rule that if you pitch the Sunday before, you can't be on the team.

This year, Cole Hamels, CC Sabathia, and Detroit's Justin Verlander cannot pitch in the All-Star game. You can't expect the Yankees to change their rotation and take a start away from Sabathis so he can pitch one or two innings in the All-Star game.

There is debate as to whether this is reasonable or not.

As for baseball, these are my "quick fixes":

 

1. Move Game to Weekend and/or Earlier in Day

Games end late at night in the East Coast on weeknights. At least it's summer and not during the school year, when there is absolutely no way kids can stay up to see the end of the game.

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Then again, people work, and not everyone wants to stay up until almost midnight when they have to be at work early the next day.

In addition, if the game starts on the West Coast, it starts around 8:30pm ET, 5:30pm PT.

The people who attended last year's game (in Anaheim) had to get there by 5:30pm on a weeknight. The same holds true this year in Phoenix. 

Therefore, the current time slot is not really good for West Coasters, who have to miss the start of the game, either. 

Put the game on a weekend, and these problems go away. 

Now, at least West Coasters get to see the end of the game, which is the best part.

By contrast, they recently moved the NFL Draft from the weekend to primetime on a weeknight (on the East Coast and when most West Coasters are still in work or traffic).

The highlight of most drafts is usually the beginning, when the highest-profile players generally are taken.

I know why the MLB doesn't want to do it: They would lose weekend series, from which they would make more money. 

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But they could always adjust the schedule to make sure teams get the extra weekend back. 

It wouldn't hurt for the game to start a little earlier, either.

They may lose some ratings initially, but if more kids can watch now, there will be more people watching in 20 years.

If the NFL can play meaningful day games, anyone can.

It's not the time of the game, it's the quality of the product. 

 

2. Game Shouldn't "Count"

It seems silly to determine home-field advantage in the World Series by the result of what is still a pretty meaningless game.

Have whichever team with the better record host the World Series, like the NBA Finals.

Sure, the results might be skewed if one league is tougher than the other, but that's just the way it goes.

Do you have a better idea?

Maybe have the league that wins the World Series get home-field advantage the next year.

I mean, if you want incentive for the All-Star game, you can always do it the old fashioned way: more cash. 

 

3. Get Rid of Every-Team-Has-to-Be-Represented Rule

I don't believe the NFL has this rule for the Pro Bowl, and I know the NBA doesn't (it's not mathematically possible).

This rule is especially lousy if the game "counts."

I would, however, insist on the host getting at least one player.

Maybe we can reduce the number of players on the team. I think it's over 30 per team now.

You try to get 30 players in a nine-inning game. 

 

4. If Game Is Tied at End of Nine Innings, Allow Re-entry

That way you don't have to save players in case the game goes extra innings.

Maybe even throw out the replacement rules and have free re-entry throughout the game.

Who cares?

That way, you don't have to save players in case the game goes into extra innings, and you don't have to worry about players (especially pitchers) playing a lot of innings, as was the case in 2008.

 

5. There Should Always Be a DH

This year, for the first time, the DH rule will be applied in an NL park.

The AL puts it on the ballot. The NL DH should be the player with the most votes of any non-starter.

I'd almost go as far as say that all the players who finish second in voting at their positions (fourth through sixth in the outfield) should get on the team.

It's the fans game—I'd rather have the fans decide who is on the team than the managers.

An aside to the criticism of fans voting for players: I keep hearing that the fans' choices are wrong and that voting for a player who is not having a good season is wrong.

The All-Star game has always been—as long as I remember—based on fan voting. All-Star voting is an OPINION. There isn't a right or wrong answer.

The fans vote, and who they want to see is who they see.

I don't care if Chase Utley was injured half of the season—I wanted to see Chase play.

People wanted to see Derek Jeter start? Fans have the right to vote for him.

I'd rather see Chase play than some second baseman I've never heard of.

Besides, the players who "deserve it" are players that had a great first halves.

What to players that play well in the second half get?

Why do players that do well in April and May "deserve" to play, but players that do well in August and September don't? 

 

6. Let Fans Vote for Starting Pitchers

If I can vote for Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to start, why can't I do the same for Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee (or CC Sabathia or Josh Beckett)?

 

7. Have Team That Wins World Series Host All-Star Game

This is a long shot.

Sure you want to spread it around, but how do you try to give players incentive to go to Kansas City in 2012? Or Arizona this year?

I can imagine the Latino players may not be too excited to go.

And of course, there is a better chance that there will be a better atmosphere at the game this way.

You don't want the Phillies hosting the 1996 MLB All-Star Game when they all sucked. You do want the Phillies hosting the 2009 version, with the fans cheering Ryan and Chase and Jimmy.

Imagine 2012 in Kansas City—without Zach Grienke, will the folks in KC even care?

I don't know if these will "fix" the game, but they might make it more interesting.

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