Now that interleague play is finally passed, it’s time for baseball fans to move on the next embarrassing chapter in the sport, the All-Star Game.
At one time the All-Star Game meant something—to the fans, the players and even the game. It was the one time of the year when most fans would get to see all the big name players on one stage, competing against each other for their respective leagues.
Now it’s just a shell of its former self, an uninteresting contest in the middle of the season when a Pirates-Padres game at 10:05 p.m. Eastern time would provide more entertainment.
There was a certain pride the players took in not only showing up and participating in the game, but in being on the winning side. All of us with knowledge of the game’s history have seen countless replays of Pete Rose barreling over Ray Fosse to win the 1970 game for the National League. Can anyone imagine Derek Jeter doing that today? Or that he’d even still be playing in the 12th inning?
I certainly can’t. For most players the All-Star Game now seems to be about little more than the photo opportunity and an extra wad of cash in the form of a bonus.
They show up, speak to the media, toss the ball around and take a couple of at-bats and head home for a short break.
Of course it’s fun to see all the big-name players on one stage, competing with and against each other like we rarely get to see all summer, but with the advancement of ESPN and the Internet it’s not a novelty anymore to see players from outside your home market.
And being that there is this inevitable desire to merge the National League and American League into a uniform unit, why bother separating them for one game?
The Midsummer Classic has lost its luster. The fans see it; the players see it; even Major League Baseball sees it, and has tried fixing the culture by awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the winner of the game.
If there were ever a more asinine decision in sports history, I’d like to know about it.
To try to put it into prospective how ridiculous awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the All-Star winner is.
Imagine this scenario: Jose Reyes, having a fabulous year, goes to the All-Star game and has a tremendous game; he wins MVP of the contest by helping the National League win its second game in a row, and thereby giving the NL Pennant winner home-field come October.
However, two weeks after the game he is dealt to the Boston Red Sox, who make it to the World Series against the defending champion San Francisco Giants. Boston leads 3-2, but heads back to Pac Bell Park (I’ll never call it anything else) for Games 6 and 7, and loses both in the spacious ballpark behind shutout pitching of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.
To make matters worse, Reyes flies out to deep left field for the final out in a one-run game, a ball that surely would have gone over the Monster in Boston.
Had Reyes not played so well in the meaningless July contest perhaps he might have been able to earn a ring by playing Games 6 and 7 at home, after he was traded.
I know that scenario is kind of far-fetched, but that was my intention, to show how far-fetched and ridiculous it is to award home-field at the most crucial time of the year for winning a meaningless game.
Why not give it to the league that wins the most spring training games?
There is a simple method to put the competitiveness back into the All-Star Game that commissioner Bud Selig and others around MLB would rather ignore.
Players, for the most part, play for one reason and one reason only: money. They all say they’d play for free because they love the game so much, but that never happens to come up at contract time does it?
So here’s what you do to get the players to actually try hard to win the game: pay them.
Pay the winners X amount of dollars (for argument’s sake say $100,000) and the losers a third of that amount. What player wouldn’t bust his rear to earn that extra $70,000?
And the kicker...
Each player must be in attendance, in uniform, in the dugout when the game ends in order to qualify for payment. You leave, you don’t get paid, simple as that.
If Major League Baseball wants to save the All-Star Game and preserve its legacy, there needs to be radical changes made to the game itself, without convoluted thinking getting in the way.
The fan vote is old and tired, and players truly deserving are often left off the rosters for bigger names having worse years.
The rosters are getting too large.
There does not need to be a representative from every team if a team does not have a qualified candidate.
Bring back the days when the All-Star Game meant something and maybe then it will become fun once again. However, I doubt Mr. Selig will look to change much about baseball, especially not for the better.