The All-Star Game is now upon us. Starting this season, Major League Baseball’s Mid-Summer Classic will no longer determine which league will receive home field advantage in the World Series.
The Kansas City Royals can testify to the importance of home field advantage. Clearly it gives the edge to whichever team has it. I will not sit here and tell you that having an exhibition game decide that advantage should be the determining factor.
What I will tell you is that having the All-Star Game matter in some fashion is indeed good for baseball.
Perhaps this year will see the same effort from players that has been exhibited for the last 13 seasons. Then again, maybe not. Remember what happened the last time there was no true incentive for the game? That would be a 7-7 tie after 11 innings. A situation that frustrated then MLB commissioner Bud Selig enough to establish the rule change.
Without some sort of significance I fear baseball’s All-Star game will quickly become similar to those in the NBA, or the NFL. You cannot convince me that any other league touches the MLB when it comes to the star studded game. The total points in the NBA exhibition continues to climb as there is zero defense played. The Pro Bowl for the NFL means so much that players routinely skip it.
I would hate to witness the Mid-Summer Classic approached with an attitude of indifference by its participants. Like I said it doesn’t have to decide the advantage in the World Series, but there needs to be something. (I haven’t really thought through any real options so I am open to hearing suggestions.)
Where I feel we will see the biggest impact is how the game is managed. Part of the reason that 2003 game ended in a tie was due to the fact all the players were used. It was about getting each player their moment. The change forced the skippers to use strategy.
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Without a reason to “out-wit” the opposition we can see the game once again being about everyone getting their turn. No real emphasis on a win. Then again I could be completely wrong.
What this could mean for other All-Star break activities is potentially huge.
If the All-Star Game itself loses meaning the Home Run Derby and Futures Games could pick up the slack. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.
Much like the 3-Point and Skills Challenges in the NBA (let’s be honest the Dunk Contest died long ago) these secondary pieces could get pushed into the spotlight. I know that I am certainly more interested in how Mike Moustakas will fair in the Home Run Derby than I am which team will win the ASG.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Future’s Game increase in popularity in the coming years. It provides fans a chance to see the next wave of elite talent. These are not household names. Because of that you can count on players giving everything they have to impress.
Will we see ASG participants working the counts and drawing out at bats? Will they decide to stretch an easy double into a triple? Do they make the diving play or just field the ball on the bounce? There will be answers provided on Tuesday night.
If the game does indeed feel like it has lost some of its edge Commissioner Manfred needs go back to the drawing board. Running a league that already has to deal with keeping the moderate fan’s interest, they simply cannot afford to slack in the All-Star event.