The MLB All Star Game Is Broken

Every sports outlet has an article this week about how to fix MLB’s All Star Game. The only surprise for readers clicking the headline is the number of suggestions. I only have two:

  1. Allow players to re-enter the game.
  1. Divorce the game’s result from home field advantage in the World Series.

I think we’d fix a lot of problems with these two simple tweaks. If free substitution were implemented, we wouldn’t need 80 All Stars every year. Managers could make sure everyone played in the first six innings or so before bringing back the starters to finish the game.

After the 2002 game resulted in a tie, MLB’s response was to give home field advantage in the World Series to the victorious league. Home field should be given to the team with the best record. Or the league with the better interleague record. Or the team that has the most players who wear high socks. All are better options than the current method.

Since the game “counts,” MLB has declared the American League the home team in tonight’s game, even though it is being played in a National League stadium (Petco Park in San Diego), since the NL was the home team last year in Cincinnati and presumably will be again next year in Miami. In 2018 the game is scheduled for D.C., another NL city, so one would think the AL would be the home team then, too. If the AL finally gets to host again in 2019, the NL would be the home team. It’s madness!

bud selig asg 2002

Hanging over the All Star Game like a rain cloud—or Bud Selig (GIF)—is the fact that many of the players don’t care. When it comes to invites, stars often milk injuries or just say, “Nah, I’m good.” National League starting outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Dexter Fowler are out due to injury, as is reserve Matt Carpenter and pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Noah Syndergaard. The AL has four injured players. Madison Bumgarner isn’t participating because he pitched Sunday night and Stephen Strasburg, despite the game taking place in his hometown, is sitting out because…he wants to. Jake Arrieta is considering following suit. We’re left with pitchers who are between starts and have been completely healthy all season.

Maybe MLB needs to incentive the players more, perhaps by issuing a one-game suspension to anyone chosen to the team who doesn’t play (a game spent on the DL would count). Of course, the Players Association would allow triple-headers before it approved that penalty. More likely, the league doesn’t care. This is a group of minds that think the designated hitter is a good idea and yet doesn’t implement it for every All Star Game, the one time it makes sense.

Tonight’s game, in which many of the best players are sitting out and the best who did show up are on the bench by the fifth inning, decides home field advantage in the World Series. It’s no wonder there are so many “How to Fix” articles this week.

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