For the second straight time, I must go voice my thoughts on what is wrong with the All Star game. According to ESPN, this years All Star game got the lowest ratings ever for the Mid Summer Classic, beating out last years game. One reason that may have happened, is because the game has run the course, and has lost the excitement. No one really cares about the game anymore, and things are made worse by adding the ridiculous stipulation of the winning league gets home field advantage for the World Series. If you read the blog I posted yesterday, you saw my ideas on how you can fix the game if you insist on making the blasted thing count for something. However, with the ratings coming out today, I believe the obvious fact is that the game no longer is capable of holding the fans attention. This is why, they should completely change the game to bring some excitement back in what was once the most anticipated exhibition game in sports.
One way to bring some excitement back into the All Star game, is to ditch the American League verse the National League stipulation. Instead, take the team that wins the World Series and have them face off against the All Stars of the Major League. This year, for instance, we would have seen the New York Yankees verse the best players the other 29 teams have to offer. Let’s see if the reigning World Series Champions are the best team out there. Face off with the best players the other teams have and prove that you are deserving of the Championship.
While this idea is unconventional, making a change like this might do enough to peek the interest of the baseball fans. Think about all the possibilities a move like this could bring. Division rivals you beat out wanting to get revenge. The other playoff teams who fell short of their goal, wanting to prove that they should have been in the World Series. The possibilities are endless with how the excitement could return by changing the game to this format.
You don’t like that idea? That’s fine, because there are plenty of others which could help liven up the game. How about stealing a concept from the Minor Leagues, USA verse the World! Yes, we see a playoff like series which would fit this mold every four years, and the USA doesn’t fare too well. However, with this set up, the teams would be limited to the Major Leaguers, and you wouldn’t see anyone you didn’t know in this game. Team USA might still get their butts kicked year in and year out, but doesn’t the National League usually lose every year as well? While this change may not bring excitement back to the Mid Season Classic, the change might be enough to at least bring some fans back to the game, though not likely for too long as most baseball fans hate the World Baseball Classic.
Or, if you must keep the traditional American League verse National League set up, ditch inter-league play. The All Star game used to be exciting, because you never used to see the great players from a National League team face off against an American League team. Now, you see this several times a year. There is nothing new about the concept. All you get, is another inter-league game. After seeing several series with the two leagues facing off, you lose interest in watching another solo game which is essentially pointless. There are no more rivalries between the leagues, and the days of seeing a Pete Rose barrel over Ray Fossi to win the All Star game. There is no intensity anymore in the game.
Unless things change before next years All Star game, the Mid Summer Classic is going to turn into just another exhibition game which no one cares about. Oh wait, never mind. That is already the case.
With today being the 81st All Star game, I decided to write one of my very few blogs which is not centered directly on the Chicago Cubs. While I do not speak for everyone, I do have my own opinion on the Mid Summer Classic, as I am sure everyone else does as well. Some people love the game, because of the history involved or because they are given the chance to see some of the greatest players in baseball all on the same stage. Others dislike the game for a number of reasons, one of which is because now the outcome is important. This, is exactly why I dislike the All Star game. In my own opinion, there are many different ways Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig could do, in order to once again bring excitement back to what was once a treasured part of the baseball season.
First things first, you must take away any and all importance to this game. Do not allow the outcome of this game to determine which league gets the much desired home field advantage for the World Series. Allowing a game, which consists of players from every team to determine the best team in the leagues fate is a complete joke. Look at the 2008 All Star game for example, when a player for a non contending team cost the National League champion home field advantage. The second basemen in the All Star game, Dan Uggla had the worst game in baseball history, committing three errors while going 0-4 at the plate leaving six men on base; three of his outs were strike outs. However, the future World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies would not need home field advantage to win the crown. One team should not be punished for the failures of the players on the other teams. No, I am not saying this is a bad idea because the American League has won every All Star game for the past 13 years. That has nothing to do with this at all.
If the game is going to count, then there are several things which must be done.
First, eliminate the need for every team to be represented at the game. While every team usually has at least one stud player, and while every fan would want to see at least one player from their team make the club, allowing a first place team’s fate to be determined by a last place clubs player is ridiculous. There are always players snubbed because every team must be represented. Do you think the New York Yankees are happy that there is a Baltimore Orioles that could likely decide their teams fate? Or the Atlanta Braves depending on a Pittsburgh Pirate to help them secure home field advantage?
Secondly, in order to prove that the game counts, is by taking the game out of the fans hands completely. Allowing the fans to vote, turns the game into nothing more than a popularity contest. Instead of the fans having the vote, give each teams manager (who should remain the two World Series Managers) select the players themselves. Cut the roster down to the traditional 25 man roster, or even better a 21 man roster. Treat the All Star Game like a real game. Each manager selects one starting pitcher, the one you have the most confidence in and then build your six or seven man bullpen around him to give yourself the best pitching staff possible.
In terms of the position players, the managers should select the best players at each position and then build a bench you can depend on to help your league win the game. Give yourself proper backups that will be there to fill in if needed or give you a good bat off the bench if you need to pinch hit for the pitcher.
Treat the game like a real game, especially if the Mid Summer Classic is supposed to count. Seriously, who takes out a starting pitcher after only three innings if he is dominating? Who pinch hits for one of the best players in baseball history, Albert Pujols, after an at bat or two because they want to get someone else into the game? If you want to win, you leave your best players in the game as long as you are able to do so. Stop treating the game like a meaningless event if the outcome determines something as serious as home field advantage in the World Series. Make the game count by treating the game like a real game.
This would likely never happen, as I am sure teams would be against allowing their pitchers to pitch as many as nine innings in a game that is outside of team control. That is one of the few drawbacks to this idea. Personally, I hate the idea of one of my team’s pitchers pitching in a game that wont help my team make the playoffs, and I am sure team managers and owners feel somewhat the same way. However, making these changes would show the baseball fans that the game they claim counts, actually does.
Every now and then, a story outside the world of the Chicago Cubs comes up and gets me thinking. Yesterday, there was some news that came out, which stated that baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was thinking about creating a new alignment system for the divisions in baseball. In this system, the divisions would be separated by factors of the size of a teams payroll, their geography, and if a team wanted to compete this year or if they were in a transition year where they were rebuilding their franchise for years ahead. While I would not be completely against realignment in baseball, I do not think that the idea Selig is pitching is the way to go about mixing things up. While this idea would bring around some change and a little more excitement, there could also be several issue which will come along with this idea,
In the Selig system, a team which knows they have little to no shot of competing for a title can decide that they do not want to play in their current division. For instance, the Pittsburgh Pirates could request to be placed in a division with teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox to insure that they will draw a good sized crowd on a nightly basis. This would work well to help teams draw gate attendance, the problem would come into play, if more than the allowed amount of teams wanted to make a similar move. How would you go about deciding which teams were more worthy and more in need of this change? The next likely step would be to look at the size of the team’s payroll who was requesting such a move, and give the team with the lower payroll that opportunity; as long as the move made sense geographically. For example, the San Diego Padres could not request to play in the American League East, because there would be a lot of issues with travel and setting up games. You could also face the possibility of having entirely new divisions on a yearly basis, while also losing out on some of the fan favorite rivalry games. There are many issues with this idea of Selig, which is why I am not for this at all. However, a change could be made, and would be beneficial to baseball. But how to go about changing things is the question.
One reason some fans want to see realignment is because of the whole uneven divisions. Some fans are not quite sure why the National League Central has six teams, while the American League West only has four. Some are not sure why this was done. That is an easy one to answer. Both leagues can not have 15 teams, and have five teams per division. If that were the case, there would be one team from each league off for a small stretch of games. That would extend the season even further into November, unless you played around with the entire schedule and gave Major League Baseball a schedule which was similar to the NFL. That idea would make for some interesting matchups, but is also filled with holes, and would ultimately fail.
The problem with playing interleague all year long, and playing games against every team would severely limit the games against your own league and more specifically, your own division. On average, if you were to play a series on the road and at home against every team in baseball, you would be limited to five games against every team with only 17 games left over, which you could divide up against the teams in your own division. In the case of the Cubs, that would be about three extra games, or one series, against each of your division rivals with two games left over. Could this idea work? I suppose so, but you would miss out on the games with your heated rivals. Cub fans would surely miss playing around 17 games a year against the hated St. Louis Cardinals, even though that would also mean easier games taking their places.
My idea though, would steal a little from Selig’s thought process, while also sampling a little bit from the European Football League (we call this soccer). With Selig’s plan, you can change divisions every single year based on what you were doing, and how much you were spending. Changing the entire division every year is not the way to go. Making slight changes every year though, would be something very interesting. In the EFL, teams that are among the worst in the league can be sent down to a lower level, while a team among the best in the league would be brought up to replace them. My idea is similar to what they would do, but completely different at the same time. In my thoughts for realignment, we would keep the divisions as they are for the first year, but they would change every year, much like in the Selig plan. Here is how this would work.
At the end of the season, you take the worst team in every division, and send them to the other league where they would replace their counterpart. What this means, is the worst team in the National League West and the worst team in the American League West would switch leagues and divisions. You would follow this same guideline for every other division in baseball. If we were to go off of last years standings, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Oakland Athletics would trade places, as would the Pirates and the Kansas City Royals, and the Baltimore Oriels and Washington Nationals. This would keep baseball running in the same manor as we are used to, while creating new matchups on a yearly basis. One downside would be the same team going back and forth every year, which could realistically happen. But who is to say that the team that switched leagues wouldn’t play better in their new situation? Then a different team would get moved the following year, which would create even more interesting matchups. I am sure the cellar dwellers in the American League East would love to play in a division without the titans of baseball. Could this idea work? I believe this idea would be a great way to change things up tremendously, without throwing the whole system out of whack.
Of course, who says baseball needs to change at all? The change to three divisions and the addition of the wild card upset a lot of fans, and some wish things would go back that way. However, since we are used to the way the divisions are now, and why would teams want to get rid of the Wild Card? Why not just make a minor tweak, which could go a long way to refreshing the game. My idea of realignment is far from perfect, but there are plenty of reasons why making a change like that would benefit the game. New rivalries could be formed, as well as getting to see your favorite team play in parks which you only get to see once every couple of years with the current interleague system. If they must make a change to the divisions, I hope they do not over think things and blow up the game we know and love.