Trivial Opinions

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Archive for July, 2008

How to fix the MLB All-Star Game

Posted by Jack Deus on July 16, 2008

In case you just got back from being dead, Major League Baseball played its All-Star Game last night at Yankee Stadium in New York City. The game is being called an instant classic by some people, whereas people like me see a lot of things wrong with the game.

Most All-Star games (for the sake of space I’ll start referring to them as ASG) are meant to be an exhibition of the game’s greatest players, and the MLB ASG acts like it is no exception. Except, that is, for the fact that after the 2002 ASG fiasco (the game ended in a tie after the 11thinning because both sides had used up all of their pitchers) Bug Selig decided to attach some importance to the game by giving the team from the winning league home field advantage in the World Series. Some people don’t like this idea but that is a topic for another day. Another topic for another day is how important home field advantage actually is in the World Series. For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume home field advantage is something that every team really cares about getting.

The first thing MLB needs to decide is if they want the ASGto be an exhibition of its greatest players or a game that actually counts. Having it be a combination of both, as it is now, just doesn’t work. If they want it to be an exhibition game, then I really don’t have too much problem with any of the rules they have in place, actually. Exhibitions are meant to be fun, to get all teams represented, and to have all of the players there get a chance to play.

However, if they want the game to mean something then tell that to the managers and have them actually manage the game like they want to win. Here are three things that need to be changed.

1. Get rid of the rule that every team has to have a representative in the ASG. If your team doesn’t have any players in the ASG, too bad. Maybe that will serve as a wake-up call for you to actually go out and get some good players so your team doesn’t get snubbed again next year. I mean, seriously, Christian Guzman is the best player the Washington Nationals were able to send? I have four fantasy baseball teams, so I have heard of Christian Guzman, but I didn’t know that he was playing out of position (he played 3rd base last night, and he usually plays short stop) until I read an article about it.

2. Tell the managers to stop feeling like they have to let everyone play. The National League probably would have won, had they not downgraded their team at 3 key positions. First, there was no reason to take out Albert Pujols. He is the best pure hitter in the game and he was 2 for 3 when he was removed. He was playing DH, so it’s not like he would get worn out batting 5-6 times and doing nothing else, either. Second, as much as I love Dan Uggla (I have him on one of my fantasy teams), if Chase Utley would have been left in to play the whole game it probably wouldn’t have even gone past the 10th inning because Uggla would not have had a chance to ground into the double play in the top of the inning. Third, as mentioned before, because of the poor managing of Clint Hurdle, Christian Guzman had to play out of position at 3rd base, when he could have just as easily left Chipper Jones in the whole time, or inserted David Wright into the position and not into DH for Pujols. I’m sure there are as many instances of severe downgrades that the American League had too, but these three examples prove the point well enough, so I’ll move on.

3. Stop babying the pitchers. This kind of goes along the same lines as the previous item, but takes it one step further. The big thing Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were discussing for the last 6 innings was what Terry Francona was going to do if he reached the point where his only pitcher left was Scott Kazmir. The reason they kept discussing this was because Kazmir has thrown 104 pitches on Sunday when he pitched, and since the Rays and Red Sox are only 1/2 game apart Francona didn’t want to risk taxing Kazmir’s arm too much in the event it got to the point where he had to pitch. Frankly, my opinion is it never should have gotten to that point in the first place. I understand you don’t want to have a pitcher throw too many innings since the game doesn’t count in the standings, but why did Francona not let Cliff Lee pitch a third inning. Lee had 3 K’s and only gave up 1 hit. Same thing with Roy Halladay. Halladay only threw 9 pitches in the inning he got to pitch, so he easily could have thrown one or two more innings. Not only that, but Halladay has pitched 7 complete games (yes, I said 7) this year already. That is more than any other teamhas thrown so far. I think he probably could have handled a higher pitch count than he got, and then Scott Kazmir would never have entered into the equation. The National League did the same thing. Ryan Dempster took 18 pitches to strike out the side in the 9th inning, but did he go out for the 10th? Nope. I think a guy who struck out every batter he’s faced, probably deserves to pitch more than 1 inning.

Going back to Scott Kazmir for 1 more point…how do you think he felt, basically being called fragile (read: a wuss) for not being able to pitch for an inning 2 days after he last pitched? On top of that, 2 days after a pitcher’s last start they usually throw a bullpen session anyway, so I don’t understand why he couldn’t have just used the inning or two he was asked to pitch as a substitute for his bullpen session.

Last point about the pitchers. I really, really wish the AL hadn’t scored a run in the 15th, or in the 16th, or in the 17th, just to see what would have happened. Would Francona risk sending Kazmir out for a 4th inning? Would he have asked a position player to pitch? Would the AL have forfeited the game? As fans, we really missed out on something spectacular, and we missed it by about 3 inches (the distance to the left the throw from Corey Hart to Brian McCann needed to be so he could have tagged out Justin Morneau for the 3rd out in the 15th).


I hope I didn’t give the impression that I wasn’t entertained watching the ASGlast night, because I was. I’m just the type of person that looks at something, finds the flaws in it, and tries to come up with ways to fix them. To me, the above three things seem self-evident, but obviously they aren’t. So, I felt I should share them with the world in the hopes that someone of importance will read them, absorb them, and apply them next year. If my as yet still-unborn daughter can never have to watch an ASG with me where the above suggestions aren’t used, I will be the happiest man alive.


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