MLB All-Star Game
So I go back and forth as to whether or not I actually enjoy the All-Star game. I remember growing up that it still had some importance, and people wanted to play in it. One of my fondest memories is the game in Anaheim where Bo Jackson and Wade Boggs led off the game with back to back homers off Rick Reuschel. Pitchers used to throw multiple innings and teams seemingly wanted to really win this game, for league pride, the money, whatever the case may be. To me, the turning point in this game was the one held at Camden Yards. It was a close game and the AL held back one pitcher as a "just in case" - Mike Mussina, who had led the Orioles to that point and was in his home ballpark. Sure, players hadn't played in the game before. Nothing unusual there. But this time it was different. How could a manager not play a player in his home ballpark? Mussina pitches and we don't have these issues. From this point on, the game changed, culminating in the ugly debocle that was the game in Milwaukee that saw a tie because they ran out of players. Why? It became a point for everyone who was selected to play. When you approach things that way, and have managers around the league saying for how long you can use their pitchers, thenhands become tied. Last time I checked, these guys throw what amounts to three innings during side sessions on off days.
I still like watching baseball, and there is something about seeing the best against the best. But what I wanted to see is Liriano going against Pujols, which given how the rotations will probably work out is unlikely. It's all about matchups, and if we're given them then the fans will watch, not for some gimmick about this time it counts. What made the game in 1999 special was seeing Pedro against Big Mac and Sosa, striking out the side in that inning against three of the best homerun hitters in the game. Fact is, you can't make players care about this game. You just can't. You won't be able to force Manny to play left, despite being the leading vote getter among all players. Nor will you be able to make the managers use or not use certain players. It's a tough situation. But there are ways to fix it. Allow me to elaborate.
1) Stop this every team needs a representative crap. You think people in Kansas City are going to tune in to see Mark Redman? Think again.
2) Don't let managers pick the reserves. I like the way the NFL does it: 1/3 vote to fans, 1/3 vote to players, 1/3 vote to coaches. If you want to let the fans pick the starters, that's fine, it is their game after all. But, the remainder of the players should be voted on by players and coaches. They know better than anyone else who the best at each position is. While you run the risk of teams being dominated by one or two teams, that can be fixed too.
3) Cap the number of team representatives at 5. No team should EVER have more than that. I don't care if we reincarnate the 1927 Yankees, you get 5 players. No 8 Yankees, no 7 White Sox, no 7 Mets. Worthy or not, spread the love in that way. That way you don't require each team to be represented, but you don't allow only one or two teams to be overly represented.
4) Don't make an exhibition play the defining role on home-field advantage. There is an easy fix to this one. You want it to be based on AL vs. NL right? How about overall league record in interleague play. Every team would then have a say as to who has it as well as making every game that much more important. There are good and bad teams in both leagues, so ample opportunity to prove who deserves it. And since there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to how they determine who you'll get in interleague play anyway, that doesn't even enter the equation.
5) Have a contingency plan. How about this: If the game is tied after 10 innings, there will be a homerun derby where teams select 3 players currently in the lineup. Each will receive 5 outs and TOTAL homeruns wins. If still tied after 3 players, each team will select two players from either the lineup or bench to compete under same circumstances, with their total adding to the running total. Process continues until a winner is determined, with next round being reduced to three outs. It also creates some strategy if you have to use the first set of players from the current lineup. Oh, and you can have outfielders. In other words, Torii Hunter can rob you.
I like that to start. There are other ways for certain, but let's start there and you watch, the viewership will go up, the strategy will go up, and it will be that much more fun. Oh, and we're outlawing Chris Berman from any HR type incident. No more back-back-back-back's. It's time to put that baby to bed.