Fixing the All-Star Game: A Battle of the Ages

Sabathia stops the losing streak, Yanks beat Jays 4-1
Game 92: Escape from Toronto

This is a guest post from RAB Shop extraordinaire Tyler Wilkinson. So read it, then go buy something.

Baseball’s mid-summer classic, once an avenue for die-hard fans to catch a glimpse of cross-country superstars, has descended into a watered down exhibition featuring all of the players we watch every night on and every morning on Sportscenter. With the appeal fading, several years ago Commissioner Bud Selig took the radical step of turning this meaningless event into the deciding factor for home-field advantage in the World Series. Yes, crazy. Believe it or not, the possibility of Aaron Crow influencing home-field advantage hasn’t yielded the results Selig was looking for. With that in mind, I have an unrealistic crackpot idea to drive up interest.

A battle for of the ages.

Problem 1, the rosters are too damn big. Peace out Aaron Crow. Royals, you want an All-Star, trade Hosmer and Moose Tacos to the Yankees for A-Rod. Picking on Aaron Crow is fun. Kidding aside, trying to include a member of every squad is diluting the talent pool and lessening the experience. Solution: 25 man rosters. Done.

Problem 2, Joe Buck & Tim McCarver. Do the right thing, Fox.

Problem 3, people aren’t tuning in to watch AL vs. NL anymore. We need a twist. How about a battle of old vs. new? Jeter vs. Cano? Lester vs. Gonzalez? Good vs. Good? Evil vs. Evil? Taking this year’s injury-riddled lineups and splitting them into the 25 youngest players I find interesting and the 25 oldest players I find interesting, let’s see how the rosters fill out.

Young Punks

C:  McCann
1B: Fielder
2B: Cano
3B: Sandoval
SS: Reyes (we’ll roll with the fan vote)
OF: Braun
OF: Kemp
OF: Upton
DH: Votto

SP: Lincecum
SP: Hernandez (F-Her, don’t forget to spread the nickname)
SP: Lester
SP: Price
SP: Hamels
RP: Weaver
RP: Cain
RP: Kershaw
RP: Pineda
RP: Jurrjens
CL: Robertson (shut up, it’s my list!)

BN: Avila
BN: McCutchen
BN: Tulowitzki
BN: Martin (3 catchers to swap out in the ASG seems reasonable)
BN: Bruce

Thoughts: Relievers not named Mo probably don’t belong in the ASG, apologies to Aaron Crow. That is a ridiculous pitching staff. I hope Lester hits Youkilis in his ugly ribs.

Old Geezers

C: Molina (I double checked. It’s not Gustavo)
1B: Gonzalez, Ad.
2B: Phillips
3B: Rodriguez
SS: Jeter
OF: Bautista
OF: Granderson
OF: Hamilton
DH: Holliday

SP: Halladay
SP: Sabathia
SP: Lee
SP: Verlander (the youngest of the old geezers & the exact middle point)
SP: Beckett
RP: Shields
RP: Wilson, Brian (have to break the no relievers rule)
RP: Valverde (and again, gross)
RP: Bell  (and again)
RP: Wilson, CJ
CL:  Rivera (forever and ever)

BN: Montero, Mig.
BN: Beltran
BN: Berkman
BN: Kendrick (someone’s gotta backup the middle infield)
BN: Youkilis (gross)

Thoughts: While the youngsters have a ridiculous pitching staff, the old folks have some big guns of their own up front with a familiar face closing it down. There’s a lot of pop in the old guys’ lineup.

While not perfect (Valverde survived the cut), I still believe the new format would increase interest. Baseball would have an avenue to market their phenomenal young stars to a national audience and the fat of the current system would be trimmed right off.  Plus, the novelty of seeing a Reyes/Cano double play combo is probably more appealing than the standard AL/NL lineups that people have grown accustomed to.  The one thing I think we can all agree on is that home-field advantage being decided in an exhibition game three months before the World Series is ridiculous and unnecessary.  While a radical alteration like the one I proposed is unrealistic, correcting home-field advantage is a simple step that needs to be fixed yesterday. That and Joe Buck.

Sabathia stops the losing streak, Yanks beat Jays 4-1
Game 92: Escape from Toronto
  • Tony

    cutting the roster to 25 is to radical for me. This IS an exhibition. This game is just for Fun. Every team should have an All-Star so each teams fan can have a small sense of pride regarding their player tipping a cap.

    As for a solution – I propose that you keep the rosters the same – but let the players have a vested interest. The home run derby is interesting because the players actually want to be their. I propose you have a veteran player act as a manager & select his player coaches. If the player has clout it make for an interesting game.

    Another option is the NHL option of a player draft – that is also appealing.

    •!/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

      Yeah, but you can’t tell me that every team has a good player. Case in point: The Orioles. They have TALENTED players, players who are certainly capable of being All-Stars, but for the most part none of them have achieved that level.

      And I think that rosters should be cut because it’s an exhibition; to wit, the fewer players, the better. The starters for each team sucked in the first place, but after the first two innings no one cared because non-stars were playing at that point. Less players, more stars.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        I mean, as an Orioles fan, can you really take that much pride in Ty Wigginton’s selection to the All Star team in 2010 when everybody knows that he’s only there to fill a quota?

        If I’m a Pirates fan (which I am, a little bit), I’d be proud of Andrew McCutchen’s inclusion this year, he’s awesome.

        Evan Meek in 2010? Not so much.

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Agreed. For those of us who remember it I doubt anyone felt much pride in Scott Sanderson’s selection as the required lone Yankee in the ’91 ASG. Just my opinion, but getting one guy in the ASG just because it’s required, as opposed to it being earned, really isn’t a point of pride so much as it is a little embarrassing.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Yeah, what’s more embarrassing: Not having any players good enough to make the ASG, or being so bad that they have to give you pity with a token selection?

            What’s worse, getting blown out, or having the other team stop trying because they don’t want to hurt your feelings with a true blowout?

          • DCBX

            The ’91 season as a whole was a painful and embarrassing experience. Better Sanderson than to have Eric Plunk or Bob Geren repping the pinstripes. Ew.

            I personally think the ASG needs an East v. West format… fans are more likely to be engaged by geographic rivalries like CA/NY than by AL v. NL.

            The player from every team rule… isn’t optimal, but if Jeter is going to be voted in 2-5 more times when obviously not the best player at his position…. the least we can do is let Aaron Crow get an inning or have Butler and Wigginton pinch hit.

  • AaronGuielWithASmile

    I definitely think they should go with the NHL’s idea of deciding the rosters by fantasy draft. Let each manager select a team captain, and have that guy select the roster.

    • Mike HC

      Unless they literally pick the team on the field grade school gym class style (not sure if they do that in the NHL), I don’t know how much better randomly selected teams would be over NL vs AL.

      I always thought the NHL did America vs the World. I actually think that would be the way to go for MLB. That would add some interest for me for sure.

      And agree with the article that home field advantage and Joe Buck have to go.

      • Mike HC

        Also, the, the young vs old is definitely an upgrade on the current format. Although, it seems like being picked for the old all stars is like a backhanded compliment.

      • John

        you didn’t watch the drafting special?

        the two captains took turns picking a player from the pool of voted players.

        so its not like gym or recess, but its just like a true draft with each team getting the jersey and such.

        It made things interesting to see teammates face each other, when going by league/conference you know that’s not possible.

        • Mike HC

          Not a hockey fan. I think I am most in favor of changing it around every couple of years. NL vs AL, then picked by captains, USA vs World, Young vs Old, and whatever other ideas they come up with throughout the years. You can even have fan votes some years on what set up they want as well.

      • DCBX

        America getting F$%*in waxed by the DR on an annual basis? Meh. Not so much.

  • Ryan

    I have thought that a new way to do the All-Star game is to eliminate it completely and replace it with a World Baseball Classic Tournament. The fans vote for players to represent the US (combine both AL & NL players for 1 team). Have the All-Star break be about a week long, and have a single elimination tournament using various baseball stadiums around the country.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Since winning the ASG means home field advantage that year for the WS, how about giving it to the league whose team has the best record in baseball at the allstar break? That team may not get to the world series and use it but it gives a bit more incentive to the first half of the season. Tiebreakers etc. as needed. Then the ASG is truly for fun and pride and nothing of WS consequence.

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    Love it. Short of eliminating interleague play (and rolling back all the technological advances that allow us to see players in both leagues and in every city whenever we want) I don’t think interest in the ASG can ever really be brought back to where it used to be, but I do think this idea would generate some more interest in the game.

    • Matt Imbrogno

      I think it’s alright, I’m not crazy about it, but I think it’s better than the current format. Maybe they could try to change it up every year, within limits, of course, because they could start doing some ridiculous stuff. The age thing one year, US/World the next, let captains (leading vote getters) pick, do it geographically (East/West? North/South?), former college players vs. former high school players/International signees.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Yeah I’m fine with changing the format – not sure if every year is the best idea, since it generally takes people a little while to get used to/into something new. But the NHL changes it up every few years, I could see MLB doing something like that and I wouldn’t have any problem with it.

  • Pasqua

    LOVE the Old vs. Young match-up. As a matter of fact, with all of the “controversey” about the fan vote, I think the game stipulation should be controlled by the fans. So, give them a choice. Something like, “Do you want to see: A) AL vs. NL; B) Young vs. Veteran; C) Signs of the Zodiac, or; D) New Contracts vs. Expiring Contracts?” That’ll shake it up!

  • Owen Two

    I’d like to see the All-Star weekend replaced by two home-and-home series of inter-league play against a ‘natural’ rival (Yankees-Mets, Jints, A’s, etc.). I realize some of the rivalries would have to be manufactured, but that’s life.

    Every other year, I’d use vistor’s rules: no DH in Yankee Stadium, DH in CitiField.

    /just my 2 cents

    • Matt Imbrogno

      They’re playing the DH everywhere with the ASG now.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder


        • Owen Two

          Well, every other year, you’d get to see if Girardi can actually do the Managerial Double-Switch(tm)

          •!/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

            He was an NL manager for like two years or something.

            • Owen Two

              Yeah, I think it was one year at Florida. I was just being a wise-ass.

      • Owen Two

        I know, I’m saying use visitor’s rules in interleague play, in alternate years.

        • Matt Imbrogno

          Meh. I see no excitement in the NL style of play. The less I see of it, the better.

          • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            The three most exciting things about baseball:
            1.) Doubleswitches
            2.) Sacrifice bunts
            3.) Watching an umpire on top of his game, emphasizing a strikeout with a sweet punchout motion and a killer grunt, or entertaining the fans by throwing a guy out for arguing a shitty call and then throwing out the manager as well

            • Owen Two

              4.) Clutch extra-base hits
              5.) A successful suicide squeeze
              6.) A straight steal of home (the most exciting play in all of sports, IMO)

              Anyone else?

              • Mike HC

                7) Using the entire bench, aka, the worst players on the team

                8) watching pitchers make a fool of themselves

                • Mike HC

                  8 ), not 8)

            • Owen Two

              7.) Nailing the potential winning run at the plate.

  • Jonathan Harker

    No no no. Old vs. Young? No. The best way to make the ASG better is to eliminate interleague play. Just get rid of it as it has run its course. Nobody cares about Mets-Yankees or White Sox-Cubs anymore. Get rid of HFA at stake in the game.

    People always say, well why isn’t the game as important as the 70s? Because baseball is everywhere now. There’s more than one game on tv per week. You can get all the games on radio. Internet. It will never be like it was back then so stop trying the stupid gimmicks like HFA at stake in the ASG.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Nobody cares about Mets-Yankees or White Sox-Cubs anymore.

      The premium prices that those tickets go for on the secondary market would tend to disagree with you.

      Interleague play has flaws, yes, but it hasn’t “run its course”. For cities with natural interleague rivalries (Cubs/White Sox, Mets/Yankees, Angels/Dodgers, A’s/Giants, Reds/Indians, Cardinals/Royals, O’s/Nationals, Rangers/Astros), those matchups are still tremendously popular and tremendously profitable.

      You may not give a shit about White Sox/Cubs, but Chicagoans who speak with their wallets do, and both of those franchises would much rather play each other 6 games a year instead of 6 more dates with the Royals/Twins/Mariners/Brewers/Pirates/Nationals/what have you.

      • Mike HC

        After the Red Sox, the Mets game is definitely the most desirable game to go to for me.

      • Owen Two

        Totally agree. With two weekend home-and-home series, the teams could have events during the week, like local homerun derbys, or sausage races in the streets, or whatever makes sense to them.

        I was in Boston in 1999, and All-Star week was one big carnival. I’d like to see that happen around the country every year.

        • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Yeah… I don’t see it.

  • Mattpat11

    I didn’t find Aaron Crow’s inclusion nearly as appalling as Brandon League.

    • Mike HC

      He does have the kind of name just begging to be picked for the all star game though.

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        The All Star break should be a three game, round robin tournament:

        The American League All Stars v. the National League All Stars v. Brandon League’s All Stars.

  • Matt Warden

    Very creative solution, Tyler. Haha, well done!

  • Levi

    Lol at Fielder playing 1st and Votto DHing.

    • T-Dubs

      Ha. I didn’t even think of that. I basically filled in the fan vote rosters and then picked my own DH.

  • http://none Favrest

    Here’s a great solution: make the All Star break an intermission instead of a game. Turn an all star status into an award like a silver slugger.

    If Bud Selig really wanted to make the all star game meaningful he would have never allowed it to end in a tie. Hopefully, he’ll retire soon. Or die, whichever is great for the game.

    • Mike HC

      I give Selig some credit for at least trying something to get more interest going in the all star game. Obviously, it didn’t work, and it was not a good idea. But the fact that the all star game and weekend is boring is really not his fault.

      • Mike HC

        Along with a shortened home run derby, I would add an obstacle course type event for some of the quicker, more athletic guys. Kind of like what the NBA has for the point guards.

        Maybe something like set up areas where the players have to throw a ball from the outfield into a bucket at home Tom Emanski style. Run around the bases once, and tehn hit one batting practice home. Maybe add one more thing. And time them. That would be pretty cool to watch I think.

        • Mike HC

          *batting practice home run

        • Owen Two

          That reminds me of .

        • Rainbow Connection

          But the NBA obstacle course is unwatchable. Why add it to MLB?

        • DCBX

          Yeah, but conditioning, conditioning, conditioning!

          Nolan Ryan’s so right about today’s players being less resilient than players of his era. They often are discouraged or even forbidden to max out their natural abilities.

          If you had , say, an outfield long toss contest to the plate between the 5 guys with the most assists at the break, someone would find a way to pull an oblique or blow a tendon.

          It’s a wonder owners still allow a $15M/yr player to take 100 HR swings in an exhibition, let alone more strenuous activities.

  • Frigidevil

    Seeing how this is the only all star game that ‘counts’, and this is the one sport where it’s hard to determine anything from a single game, why not make it an all star series? Best of 3. The games will seem like actual games, starters will get actual starts, and you can extend it to all star week with more events like the NHL skills competition. Have a MLB version of those impossible boardwalk games.

    Yeah I know, injury risk yadda yadda but if you’re gonna go unorthodox, why not go all out?

  • SodaPopinski

    Sounds fun.
    I’d watch old vs young.
    Great Idea.