By Paul DiSclafani:
Remember when the All Star game was fun?
Before the days of ESPN and the MLB network, you never got to see the stars of baseball every day. Heck, there was a time when not all of the Mets and Yankees games were on TV. You needed magazines like Sports Illustrated to see what some of these other guys looked like. And other than “This Week In Baseball”, you rarely got to “see” the greats play.
As a Mets fan, getting a chance to see your guys in an All Star game, being introduced before the game and standing on the baseline with all the other greats was real Must See TV. There was a real pride amongst the players for their league. It didn’t mean anything, other than you wanted to prove your league was better than their league.
There was a certain charm to the game, players wanted to do well, but it was all about celebrating the game’s best players in the same ball park on a single night.
Alas, there will be no pining from me for “The Good Ole Days”. Instead of waiting until the evening news the next day to see a home run, we can see it within minutes. Our phones get “alerts” when things are going on we need to know about. I don’t have a problem with that, as a matter of fact, I embrace it.
But why can’t he All Star game still be fun and a celebration of today’s best players?
Can the game be saved? This year’s game had the worst ever TV ratings. Why? Quite frankly, because nobody cares anymore. Not the players, not the coaches and certainly not the fans.
ESPN ruined the Home Derby, taking what was such a novelty and spectacle and turning it into a boring, way too long and exhausting ordeal that most players would rather skip. The home runs are still majestic and awe inducing, but 60 of them? How many times can the fans ooh and ahh? How many times can we listen to “back, back, back, back, gone!”?
Time to go back to the drawing board with the Mid-Summer Classic.
ITS AN EXHIBITION
Can we stop the nonsense about this game “counting” for anything other than a few hours of fun? You can’t have a showcase of the best players in the game if you have to worry about strategy and winning the game. Obviously, the viewers don’t want to see the “best” players in the game. They want to see their stars, the players that make you stop what you are doing and watch.
Would there have been a better moment than seeing Bartolo Colon step up to the plate with a bat in his hand at the very ball park that he hit a home run in? Of course it would have been ridiculous in a game that you “had” to try to win, but come on, isn’t that what the fans would have wanted to see?
If you think this game should continue to be played to determine home field advantage in the World Series, please stop reading and go check your Facebook timeline instead.
CHANGE THE FORMAT
Other than the Designated Hitter rule, a game played by a team from the AL against a team from the NL doesn’t excite people anymore. The NHL and NFL have learned that, and I am sure the NBA will learn that as well. Players are no longer associated with Leagues or Conferences because of free agency and inter-league play. It’s not enough of a hook to create teams along these lines.
Why not consider a USA vs the World format like they do in the “Futures” game? Or how about going back to the early days, when the team that won the World Series plays the All Stars from the rest of the league?
Give us, the fans, something to root for and we will root for it.
The fans should always be a part of voting the players into the game they want to see. Sure it was great when you took the ballots only from fans attending the games, but voting on the Internet is not going away. But is it necessary to give fans multiple votes?
The online voting should be limited to MLB.com. You sign up as a member with your email address and that’s it. You get one ballot per email address. If you have 10 email addresses, so be it, you get 10 votes. Is it really necessary to give a single email address multiple votes?
The teams are then composed of the players with the most votes with limited substitutions (other than injuries) and if we need more catchers or additional position players, we add them.
And please, no restrictions on a player from every team. The fans want to see who they want to see. They are the ones that will tune into the game on TV. Are we worried that the entire state of Minnesota will boycott the game if nobody from the Twins is on the roster?
Take the top two players from every infield position, the top six outfielders and three catchers, that’s 17 position players. Take six starters and six relievers for a total of 29 players. Do we need more “stars” than that?
its the All Star game, everyone doesn’t need a participation trophy.
FREE SUBSTITUTION IN THE FIELD
It’s an exhibition game, remember? Why not allow the managers to put whomever they’d want out in the field whenever they want? We’re not talking about seven outfielders, just free substitution, that way you don’t have to not use your backup catcher because he’s the last guy on the bench. Everyone gets into the game and everyone gets to play in the field.
That is done in tournament ball, isn’t it?
Plus, maybe it would be fun to see some players play a position that they are not known for, or were known for at one time?
UNIVERSAL BATTING ORDER
It’s an exhibition game, remember? How about this for a batting order? The fan-voted starters bat 1-9 (with a DH). Then we go 1-9 again, followed by everyone else (except the pitchers that don’t want to bat). If we get through 1-17, the stars bat again. How great would that be, seeing the stars the fans voted as starters get their third AB late in the game against the other teams best closers?
LIMITS ON STARTING PITCHERS
Nobody pitches more than one inning. Take six starters and give them one inning each. Then work the bullpen for the final three innings and get everyone in. If you have to, use them to finish some of the starters innings if they throw too many pitches.
By the way, move the game to Wednesday so that anyone that pitched on Sunday can still participate.
You don’t have to worry about “saving” a pitcher for extra innings because…
NO EXTRA INNINGS
The game is nine innings, end of story. No worry about rosters or over-using players. You plan for nine innings and you can make sure everyone selected gets into the game.
I would even let the home team bat in the bottom of the ninth even if they are winning – everyone needs to get into the game.
If the game ends in a tie…
HOME RUN DERBY FOR THE WIN
How great would this be if they took a page out of the NHL shoot out format?
Each manger picks three players. Everyone gets three swings and only home runs count. You get a four-home run lead with one batter left, you win.
If after all three players have had their three swings and there is still a tie, you go to sudden death, one new player at a time, no duplicates.
Well, what do you think? Should we just leave it alone and let the game flounder? I’m open to suggestions, but I won’t watch the game (or care about it again) until they stop making it “count”.