Something Needs to Change About the Midsummer Classic
With the first public announcement of the leaders in this year’s MLB All-Star Game voting, the usuals are out calling for the head of Bud Selig and whichever fans voted for J.J. Hardy over Hanley Ramirez. Some of the results are mind-boggling (Hardy over Ramirez) while others (Pujols as the top vote-getter) were expected. My thought is that one of two things needs to be changed in order to make baseball’s All Star Game better for the fans and baseball as a whole.
1. Do Not Make the Game Count For Anything
Starting in 2003, Bud Selig and the MLB announced that the pennant winner of the league that won the All Star Game would receive Home Field Advantage in the upcoming World Series.
OK, so wait a second. Back in 2004, the St. Louis Cardinals won 105 games in the regular season, good for best in the Major League. They won their division by an MLB-best 13 games and torched the NL for 162 games.
Yet in Game one of the World Series there they were, sitting in a dugout in Fenway Park, opposite the home team Boston Red Sox who had gone 98-64 that year. 98 wins is a pretty special year and, had it not been for the 101-win Yankees, the Red Sox would have run away with the division.
The reason the Red Sox were able to play at home in Game One was due to a single game that occurred three months and nine days earlier. The AL had won the All Star Game 9-4 back in July and for some reason that held precedence over the commanding season the Red Birds had.
Roger Clemens was the starting pitcher in the game, yet all he was playing for was pride. His Astros were 10.5 games out of the division lead and had no shot at the playoffs. Clemens pitched an inning of work and gave up six runs that put the National League in a hole they never got out of. No sweat off Clemens’ back, but I am sure the three Cardinals starting in the game would have liked to see a little more effort out of him.
Having the game not count for anything will not only reward teams that do well in the regular season, but also justify letting the fans vote. It seems as though 99.9% of people can not understand why fans are allowed to vote players into the All Star Game. After all, it’s called the All Star Game, so why is J.J. Hardy and his 240 points of batting average starting over Hanley Ramirez?!
The answer is because the most amount of people that care about the All Star Game want to see Hardy. If the game were to count for nothing, letting the fans vote would be perfectly fine. People come to the ballpark, some paying thousands to get in, to see their favorite players duke it out in the best All-Star Game of any major sport. Shouldn’t they get to see who THEY want in the game? If the weekend wasn’t about the fans we wouldn’t see the Home Run Derby or the Celebrity Softball Game.
If more people want to see Manny Ramirez in the game than Raul Ibanez, despite the huge difference in statistics, then let them. People that have a problem with it should go vote and try to get whoever they think is deserving into the game.
2. Do Not Let the Fans Vote on the Game
It seems as though baseball enjoys the “This Time It Matters” slogan and are not going to rid of it for quite some time, so what that means is the fan vote needs to go. Currently, fans vote in the starters of the game while the players vote in pitchers and back-ups at each position.
Because of this, there are not a whole lot of snubs at any position and none really stick out to me. There has never been a case where an Albert Pujols or a Vladimir Guerrero never got into the game. However, if the game actually means something as big as home field in the World Series, then the fans are just going to have to sit and watch.
Fans mean everything to sports because, simply put, without them there wouldn’t be anything to play for. Loyal fans, season ticket holders, and the occasional band-wagon fan love voting their favorite players into the game. It’s all fun and games as they go online and punch their ballots.
Unfortuantely for the players, it’s not just fun and games anymore. Sure, players laugh it up on the field and we see antics in the field every year that give us a good chuckle.
Ever since 2003, it has meant a whole lot more than just a game in Mid-July where we see our favorite players. It means playing games one and two in your own backyard instead of enemy territory. Throw in the Designated Hitter factor into the equation and it becomes all that much more important.
If the game is going to mean something, players need to be the ones to vote in the starters, back-ups and catchers. You think a guy like James Loney, playing for the first place Dodgers, is going to want anyone but the best player at each position? Letting the players vote is going field the best team that each league can put out and will assure that the game is competitive.
Which One Would Work Better?
I am a proponent of letting the fans vote and seeing the players play that they wanted in. It’s not like the fans are voting in Bobby Scales and Colby Rasmus while Ryan Braun and Chase Utley sit at home watching the game. Every year the game features the best players in each league (more or less, minus one or two snubs) and turns out to be a great game.
The fans love it and keep coming back for more every year, so the selection process is not that tainted. Second, I hate that the game means so much in regards to the playoffs. I realize that the MLB wanted the game to mean more so that more people would be focused on who won, but in reality that’s more of a cheap ploy than a resolution. Let’s let the fans see who they want in the game and let the teams decide home field advantage.
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