|Who Watches the All-Star Game Anyway? Should the game be worth something?||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on January 15, 2003
One of the reasons many of us dislike the the All Star Game is that it means nothing and that the fans choose the players. Because of this, a huge number of poor choices have been made over the years. Sentimental favorites and well known names have often been given spots which should have been given to players who truly deserved them because of their gloves and bats. It's one of the factors which cheapens any meaning of the game.
Another factor which makes the game nothing more than a side show is the 'everyone must be used' attitude. It's the biggest reason that last year, we had to endure the second tie in All Star Game history. Managers don’t manage the game the same way that they would in a game which counted.
Because of this many of us, myself included, turn off the television for the entire All Star break. Selig’s suggestion that the All Star Game decide the league who plays initial World Series host, has been bouncing around for years and has been a topic of debate on many a sports radio show. Still, it's a pretty damn good idea.
Why is it a good one? Well the truth is that the system of alternating which league hosts is also pretty damn random. Unlike football our championships are not played at a neutral site, nor like in others sports are teams rewarded by home field (or court, or ice) advantage because of their record. Theoretically a team could win every game they played over an entire season, and have no chance of starting the World Series at home. That defies logic.
Baseball’s system for determining home field advantage right now has neither logic or reason behind it, its simply arbitrary. So why not add something to the All Star Game, by putting home field advantage on the line. The managers who won the league championships the previous year manage the squad, and both of them are hoping to repeat. It has been a rarity since the mid 80’s that league champions were out of the race at the All Star Break, so the managers would both be gunning for something important to their team. This means they will play to win.
Critics have said this would push the managers to risk injury to stars who played for other or competing teams, primarily pitchers, but that is a criticism of any type of All Star Game play. If you need to protect the pitchers, put a inning limit in place. More likely what it would mean is that players who don't deserve to be there would only get to start the game, then be promptly replaced by more credible position players - since the manager has incentive to win.
Making this change will actually create a game which means something. Fans who now can’t stand the All Star Game, might actually turn it on and watch - because it might have a bearing on their teams chance to win. In addition the game might no longer be seen as a disruption of the “real” baseball season. The biggest advantage is that it would take away some of the circus atmosphere and really be an All Star Game, played well, and played to win.