After the Major League Baseball All-Star Game took center stage in the sports world (not that there is much else to compete with), the complaints and criticisms about and toward the mid-summer classic have been constant and plenty. The always controversial all-star snubs, World Series home-field advantage being on the line, who the starting pitcher should be, and what should be included in the game, are the arguments and debates we've seen and heard. And honestly, every angle and argument is understandable.
No matter what is done, implemented, subtracted, or dissected, the MLB All-Star game can never please everyone. Never. With so many elements and parties to please - fans, players, managers, organizations, MLB, writers, the hosting city, and of course, television - every situation will appease a few, and cause a discontent with the rest.
Therefore, with that said, instead of issuing the usual pessimistic and complaining writing about what's wrong with the All-Star Game, I'll be proactive and will layout a plan of what MLB's All-Star Break would look like in my perfect world.
Sunday Funday-Break-Away Day
Does the MLB All-Star Break begin on Sunday or Monday? I never understand how MLB schedules prime time regular season games that run against some of their all-star festivities such as the Futures Game and the celebrity softball game. So yes, we're changing the official start of the break to Sunday. Unless absolutely needed due to rain outs, Saturday is the end of the first half of the season.
If you're a DP devotee, you are fully aware of the injustice I feel FOX and ESPN does to the All-Star Game. FOX apparently plays football theme songs in between innings, disregards any explanation or insight of the players, and simply just doesn't go the extra mile for the broadcast. ESPN's coverage of the home run derby has gotten better, but it is unbearable to listen to Berman and his "back-back-back" call on every homerun. I get it, it's your thing (and a great call when saved), but we don't need to hear it 489 times for the night. Honestly, if both FOX and ESPN put the effort into their MLB coverage that they do for their ratings darling in the NFL, it would be much better. Especially when compared to what TBS does for the NBA All-Star Weekend coverage, and even the coverage they provide for the MLB playoffs, FOX and ESPN should be ashamed.
Here is what I propose: NBC
Yes, I still hold a grudge against them for cancelling one of the greatest shows of all time in Friday Night Lights, but their coverage of sports are in-depth and well respected. From Football Night in America, which really has become the premier show of the NFL, and their Olympic coverage, NBC does it's homework.
During this break, it is the perfect time for fanbase's all over the country to become familiar with other players they may have seen come to town once or twice, or merely heard of or see in highlights. NBC does a great job with access to players, interviews, and connecting the athlete to the viewing audience.
Let's give NBC the All-Star pre-game show and the actual game, and offer all of the other festivities to a channel that will present them with the importance it deserves: MLB Network.
Who else would be better to promote the product than your own network?
The MLB Network's "Hot Stove" coverage and nightly analysis is awesome, with a crew that is fun and engaging. And when they get serious and begin breaking down the game in so many ways, it's that much better.
C'mon, who wouldn't want to hear a "Got heeeeeeeeeeeeem" from Kevin Millar during the All-Star break?
All-Star Festivities Lineup
What exactly is MLB All-Star Break's lineup? Everyone knows about the Home Run Derby, but what else? Here is the lineup in my perfect world:
Sunday - MLB Network - 4:00pm - Celebrity Softball Game: The current mix of Hall of Famers and celebrities is perfect.
Sunday - MLB Network - 7:00pm - The Future's Game: Keep the current USA vs. The World format as it gives a different dimension to the game while giving the game's best prospects a chance to shine. This game has been great the last couple of years, and deserves to be a showcase in prime time.
Monday - MLB Network - 7:00pm - Home Run Derby: Ten outs in the first round. Five outs every round afterwards. More on other changes in a bit.
Monday - MLB Network - 10:00pm - Field of Dreams Game: More on that in a second as well.
Tuesday - NBC - 7:45pm - MLB All-Star Game: Self-explanatory.
Gimmicks, Gismos, and Baseball
There are a few changes that I would add to the current All-Star festivities to make the break more fun, and more entertaining. The first would be a few rule amendments to the Home Run Derby. I like the derby, but it can run a bit long in competition with the current format. And let's be honest, in today's short attention-span society, quick, entertaining, and productive is the key.
As stated above, the first change would be to make all rounds after the first round five outs. After ten outs in the first round, most guys are gassed anyhow. The second and third rounds should be about selection and smart swings.
The second addition would be to add a few gimmicks to the Home Run Derby. How about having certain areas in the outfield stands marked into different segments with the player being able to call his shot with a risk/reward clause?
For example, take this year's derby champ, Prince Fielder. Under these rules, Fielder can call his shot to the upper deck in right field (which of course would be marked with a boundary), and he must hit the ball into that location. If he does it, it counts as two, if he doesn't, he loses one. How about triple rewards for opposite field home runs?
It's a concept I think would be awesome for the better hitters, and would add a productive, HORSE-like gimmick to the already entertaining event.
The second change would be the addition of another event. Titled the Field of Dreams game, this event would be a 6 inning game of recently retired players against one another. The game would include guys that no longer can play in the league, but are still capable of playing the game. The event would offer nostalgia and entertainment. And just to stay within the All-Star Break theme, have it remain American League vs. National League.
The game would keep former players close to the game, and would also give them incentive to stay in shape for a once-a-year game until they no longer can do so. It would be fun to see guys stick around, and would also be fun to see what certain pitchers would have left. And to be honest, I'm sure it would get competitive and can develop a yearly rivalry among the game's alums.
Fans Vote For Starters - Reserves Selected by Committee
I believe fans have the right to vote for starters in All-Star games. The game is for the fans and supported by the fans and they should have the right to reward who they want to see. It's what our country is built on. The simple system of democracy.
However, when it comes to the reserves, I hate the idea of the previous World Series managers having the power to select guys. As a Yankee fan, I'll be the first to admit experiencing Joe Torre select seven Yankees every year was ridiculous. How about Tony La Russa snubbing Johnny Cueto this year because of the Cardinals/Reds rivalry?
MLB has a committee for just about everything - scheduling, discipline, baseball affairs, etc... Why not have a committee dedicated to selecting All-Star reserves? Heck, MLB has fans in a "Fan Cave" here in NYC watching games all year long, and there are tons of other crazies that are fully aware of the statistics of all players throughout the league. Why not gather a committee comprised of scouts, baseball experts, former players, and maybe a fan or two, and have them be responsible for coming up with the reserves? This should be the ultimate checks and balance for who is worthy to be an all-star.
|Yes Johnny Cueto, we're confused on your snub as well.|
And by the way, I do like the idea of every team being represented in the game.
Yeah, yeah I know what you're thinking...
But, isn't eliminating that rule just begging for the exclusive exposure of the same teams (e.g Yanks, Angels, Dodgers, Red Sox, etc...) and counterproductive in all revenue sharing and overall exposure efforts? After all, it was nice to see Jose Altuve in this year's All-Star Game.
If it Counts, then it Should Count
I'm not a fan of this sudden movement in our society to award all of our children with trophies for participating. And I'm not a fan of this sudden idea that everyone on the All-Star team should get into the game.
FOX pressured MLB into adding this "Winner determines Home field advantage" stipulation, and without hesitancy, Selig obliged. The idea is stupid in many ways, but it does add to the intrigue once the game is actually underway. However, if the game is this important, I don't believe that managers should plan to get everyone in the game.
I understand you don't need to tire guys out during their break, and that you need to handle pitchers with a certain delicacy, but having the possibility of Bryan LaHair of the awful Cubs decide where Game 7 of the World Series will be held is crazy. Just utter lunacy.
Let's think about that again, Bryan LaHair of the 33-52 Cubs deciding Game seven of the World Series.
Of course, it did not happen, but it could have, all because we feel obligated to play everyone.
|Sorry Mr. LaHair, but a point had to be made.|
These guys are big boys, and they didn't get that far by being coddled. They understand their role, and to be honest, some probably wouldn't even mind the night off. But, in the words of Herm Edwards, "HELLO! HELLO! You. Play. To.Win. The. Game!"
In a perfect world, the pitching load is handled the traditional way it's always been, and all-star starters will go at least five innings.
With that said, in a perfect world, that would be my All-Star Break. What do you think? Feedback is always welcomed, and I'm always twitter accessible.
We'll all convene come October when the Wild Card winners will host the #1 seed in the playoffs for Game's one and two.
Even though it's only for this year due to scheduling conflicts, I'm sure we'll have more of these wonderful baseball debates.