Tonight we begin the All Star break with a bang, beginning with the home run derby. I’ll be honest with you, though. As a blogger, I tend to look at the break as just that, a break. Between a full time job, a wife and two kids, any break from baseball is a welcomed one. There used to be days when I would look forward with great anticipation to the All Star game and what it brought. I remember being upset about having to go get a physical for summer camp the evening of the all star game when I was kid. That was even before I knew some old dude was going to make me drop my underwear and cough. (Doesn’t seem right to check for a hernia on a 9 year old, but oh well)
These days, the break doesn’t excite me all that much. Sure, I’ll look to see who won the homerun derby and I’ll watch a few innings of the various other games (All Star, Celebrity Softball, & Futures), but overall it’s not a few days that excite me all that much. What I’d like to propose are a few changes that might entice me to watch.
The Futures Game – I’m a big fan of following the farm system. I can usually give you my take on the majority of the names in the system without much prep. It’s always been a passion of mind to watch kids develop into big league players. It’s fun to watch guys get traded or come into the organization and do some research to see the kind of player we might be getting. Baseball’s showcase each year of the top names in the minors is the Future’s Game. The problem? MLB sees fit to put the game up against the rest of the Majors on the day before the break begins. Not only that, but they put it against the national broadcast on Sunday night. It seems to me that the best way to market your product is to not directly compete with…your product. Last night, the Futures game was televised on ESPN2 at 6p EDT. It’s not a bad time except for the fact that there was a Cubs / Dodgers game beginning just two hours later.
My Solution – The All Star break always starts on a Monday and MLB always has a national broadcast on Sunday night. Why not schedule all MLB games as day games and make the Sunday night game be the Future’s game? You could make it a big deal with the Sunday Night Baseball announcing crew and really do it up special. This would also give all the teams (not just 28 of them) the chance to get the evening off as they head to break. It would get the players on a plane for home that evening instead of late that night and allow them to spend the full, rested day with family on Monday. It just makes sense to me.
The Home Run Derby – This is the non-game highlight of the break and there are some that really look forward to it. My problem with it? It’s too friggin’ long. Every year they schedule the thing for two hours and every year it goes over time worse than the Oscars. It’s filled with useless interviews by Erin Andrews (check that, no interview with Erin Andrews is useless) and pitch after pitch that each hitter takes before getting that one perfect offering they can drive. On top of that, there are too many rounds of play. I’ve got a pair of proposals for this one.
Solution # 1 – The easiest solution for this one is to cut down the number of participants to six or even four. Let’s be honest and look at the lineup for tonight. Do you really think Nick Swisher is going to win this thing? Hanley Ramirez? Seriously? By getting the four big names in there, it allows you to cut the time in half, while still essentially getting the same result.
Solution # 2 – No more waiting for the perfect pitch. Each of these guys gets to pick who throws to them anyway. Give them an umpire back there. If they take a pitch that is called a strike, it’s an out. If it’s good enough, you better be swinging. This would make picking your pitcher a key part of the contest. You wanna be like Josh Hamilton and have a 106 year old man pitch to you? Fine, that sucker better get the ball over the plate.
The All Star Game – This one “counts” now. I’ll make this one short and sweet. Having the game decide home field advantage is ignorant, asinine and downright stupid. The game is for the fans and in no way should decide who has home field advantage.
My Solution – Make the game and exhibition again and really play it up for the fans. Get guys that want to be there and let them have fun. Why can’t it turn into a Harlem Globetrotters type event with guys showing their skills and a whole bunch of bats and balls being given to the fans in the stands? Have fun with it and make it worth the ticket price. To decide home field advantage, you simply either go back to the alternating years rule (yawn) or give home field advantage to the league that won the World Series the year before. It’s that simple and it becomes based on games that actually mean something.
That’s all I’ve got. MLB, if you make those changes, you’ll have my All Star heart once again. Until then, thank God for the three day break.