Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Stars Were Out

I watched the MLB All-Star game Tuesday night, and... the madness continues. Maybe I shouldn't say I watched it. I had the game on, but I was busy doing other things. Other online journalists (you know, the ones who actually get paid for speaking their mind) have ranted over the current MLB All-Star format, and I have to agree with a few sentiments. But my take on it might be a little different. I'm neither a baseball purist nor some Bill Veeck (bonus points if you know who he is without looking him up). But the current all-star format leaves a lot to be desired.

First, what is the MLB All-Star Game? It's just like the home run derby. It's an exhibition between players of various teams, whose sole purpose is to generate more buzz and revenue for the league. It doesn't figure into any league statistics for the year (like when Eric Gagne blew the all-star game save, but it didn't affect his record-breaking save streak).

My biggest complaint has to be Bud Selig's silly notion that the all-star game should determine home field-advantage in the playoffs as an incentive for players to play hard in this exhibition game. Lets look at the other US pro team sports with a championship series, the NBA and NHL. Both of these leagues award home-field advantage in their best-of-seven finals to the team with the better record (or points in the NHL). Now, it is true that in the last six years, there has not been a game seven in the World Series. But why wait until after a World Series goes to a full seventh game and it does make a difference?

In the all-star game this year, the NL had Justin Upton, a right fielder, playing left field. Curtis Granderson hit a one-out drive to left, and Upton's route to the ball allowed Granderson to get to third base. After a walk, Granderson scored on a sacrifice fly to right field. Should home field advantage in the World Series be determined by a guy playing out of his normal position in an exhibition game?

I won't mention both rosters featuring (count 'em) four first basemen. Rather than expanded rosters of 33 players each (how did they even come up with that number?), why not pick the best 25 in each league, play them more than one at-bat, two innings in the field, or one inning as a pitcher, and try to win a ballgame? We should strive for quality, not quantity.

How about this: who cares if there is a tie? It's an exhibition anyway. Fans are watching to see their favorite players, the stars of the game compete. If the game goes to 14 innings, call it a tie and award a tie MVP for one player in each league. I bet after 14 innings, most of the fans will have gone home or tuned off anyway. Why? Because deep down no one really cares who wins!

It didn't always used to be like this, especially back in the 70's when Pete Rose ran over Ray Fosse. People had pride in their league, and the game meant something. But with the introduction of interleague play, the novelty of the twice-a-year AL vs. NL (all-star game and World Series) has worn off. Don't get me wrong, I do like interleague play. But it comes at the expense of things like the all-star game.

I'm not a fan of the designated hitter in regular games. But for goodness sakes, get the DH in the all-star game every year. I don't want to see Roy Halladay bat in an exhibition game.

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