They have just started to announce the voting results for this year’s All Star game, and I guess some people are up in arms because several Yankees, one of the better clubs in the league have several players leading for their positions. This got me thinking about All Star games and realizing that different people have different ideas about what this game is and thus, how it should be represented. Allow me my opinion on the subject.
First off, the All Star Game is an exhibition. Baseball hierarchy in some misguided attempt to add some meaning to it, now has the winning team get the home field advantage for the World Series. They did this for two reasons, neither of which is meaningful. First, the game itself had begun to lose its luster because it used to be that the only way you saw the stars of the other league was in the World Series. Think of that entire generation of American League Baseball fan who never saw Ernie Banks play because he was with the Cubs and they NEVER went to the World Series. But this reasoning has changed because of interleague play and baseball on TV. Now you get to see every other National League team in person about every 4-5 years depending on the schedule, plus you have the Fox Saturday and ESPN Sunday night and TBS Sunday games of the week and the MLB Network and Extra Inning package on cable and dish TV.. The second reason was because of the infamous tie All Star Game in 2002 when Bud Selig ended the game from his box seat when the teams ran out of available pitchers in an extra inning affair. He was roundly criticized by fan and media alike, to the point of making the silly decision about the winning league getting the home team advantage in the World Series. This was just ANOTHER time when Selig missed the mark. There was no need to do anything. The managers would have gotten creative and figured out what to do. Instead we get another new rule that seems more for marketing than for the integrity of the game.
Secondly, this is an exhibition game, for the fans. They should vote on who they want to see and get a chance to see who they voted for. If they want to see an aging superstar one last time in the national spotlight, then so be it. Problems arise because of the voting system. First you have people voting for players they do not see or know. Why do American League fans at an American league game vote for National League players? Let the fans vote for the 5 or 10 players from either league they want to see and then allow the coaches and managers or the players themselves dictate the rest of the team. Also why are people allowed to vote 10 or 20 or 100 times each game plus online too. Is it so that baseball can report millions of votes? Stop it! Limit the vote to one each day at most and get more people involved in the process. And while you are at it, make sure the DH is in all games so that more players play. I would not have got to an All Star Game to watch Sandy Koufax bat. Let the pitchers pitch and the hitters hit. That’s what we want to see.
Finally, let’s get rid of all the limiting ideas about the make up of the team, starting with the arcane rule that there must be a representative from each team. That is dumb as it is an All Star team, not the “best player on your team” team. And why not expand the rosters so that there are some extra players to be around in case of extra innings or whatever. Most guys get a bonus if chosen so bring a few more and make it even more fan friendly.
Look, the All Star game is a celebration of baseball. Let’s keep that in mind when we vote, when we root and when we watch. Let the owners and Bud Selig not forget where their bread is buttered here.