Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Why MLB Needs To Change The All Star Game

When Bud Selig first announced the All Star game would determine home field advantage in the World Series I thought it was a good idea.  I thought it would bring more intensity and a sense of purpose to the game and the players would be forced to take it seriously.  After all, home field can be critical to winning a seven game series and if one league is more dominant than another the results would keep things honest.  Several years later I've had a change of heart.

The All Star game shouldn't determine who has home field advantage in the World Series.  The game is an exhibition that rewards stellar play for the first half of the season.  It is not an accurate barometer of who the best team is.  The team with the best record should have the opportunity to host a game seven if necessary.  It is unfair to project what league has the better team based on a group that the fans vote for and the manager is not 100% familiar with.

In addition, the desired result hasn't been met.  The players don't take the game anymore seriously than before.  Players that become All Stars, but don't play for a team in playoff contention don't have the same motivation as players from say Baltimore, Detroit, San Francisco, or Cincinnati.  Plus the manager is compelled to make sure everyone gets playing time while being cognizant of injuries and undue wear and tear on the participants.  Both teams are stacked with immense talent, but the big names usually aren't in the line up when the game is decided.

I do think the All Star game needs some additional skills events however.  I'd like to see something that shows off the strength and accuracy of an outfielder's arm.  I'd like to see something that displays the range of the league's premiere infielders.  I'd like to see if hitters can swing at only odd numbered baseballs like Barry Bonds used to do in his off season training regiment (He actually swung at odd numbered golf balls if you can believe that).

  In the end the experiment was cute for a minute, but over time we see the flaws in the system and going forward MLB should change the rule and go back to the way things used to be.  Most Players will only go all out for the team that's paying their salary and for teammates that have their back 162 games a year.  A one game exhibition is not enough motivation for that.  The All Star game should be a reward for the popular players that keep the game relevant to the fans, not home field advantage in the World Series.

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