The headlines were, “MLB All Star Game No Longer Counts” following the agreement reached last Wednesday night. But maybe the negotiators were a bit punch drunk from the pace of those round the clock talks. Because when you read the rest of that clause, you have to wonder what they were thinking……
The idea of having the MLB All Star game “count” was always one of those manufactured things that baseball does once in a while to make the sport and the season more exciting. They never delete anything. And even when they take something out, they can’t resist the urge to put something “new” back in. And that’s what they just did with the All Star Game.
The “New Look” All Star Game
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From now on, the game will have no bearing on which league gets the home field advantage in the World Series. Instead, home field will be decided by the team with the best record during the regular season. A perfect idea, and they finally dropped the ridiculous reason for not doing this before, which was that it didn’t give everyone time enough to prepare. Even in the 20th Century, that always sounded pretty lame.
So, the All Star Game is now back to what it always was before it was tinkered with. It’s a exhibition game featuring the best players in the game performing on the same field at the same time. How cool is that? Except that a couple of things have been added that weren’t there before. Proving once again that MLB never seems to know when enough is enough.
The All Star Game players will now split a pot of $640,000 for the winning team only, I guess for the inconvenience of not being able to take a three or four day rest mid-season. That seems fair, no?
But the other new wrinkle has the Commissioner filling in roster spots with players not previously chosen by the fans. This used to be reserved as a privilege for the managers to decide. Which is odd when you consider that this would have been a better practice when the game counted than it does now. Because managers had a tendency to be biased towards players on their teams selecting them over others, or they would do the opposite and not choose their own players if the manager felt they needed “a blow” or a few extra days to mend a minor injury.
So when a impartial hand was needed, the Commissioner held no power. Now when the game doesn’t mean anything beyond its entertainment value, the Commissioner wants the power to make the final selections. And get this. He is going to select seven players for the National League team, but only five for the American League team. What kind of a cockamamie scheme is that? It sounds exactly like it probably was……a last minute thing thrown together at the last minute just so an announcement could be made…..we have a deal and once again we have labor peace. Everyone rejoice.
Thou Tweakests Too Much
But that’s what happens when MLB feels the need to add a new idea just because it has the flavor of “new” attached to it and it’s something to talk about when July rolls around. As if the pennant races being in full swing and the upcoming trade deadline weren’t enough, and we need more to keep us interested.
Here’s the other thing too. It’s one thing for the Commissioner to make a controversial selection to the team and quite another for a manager to do the same. Because when was the last time you heard Commissioner Manfred “talkin’ baseball”. And can you see him now trying to justify his choice of Jose Altuve over Robinson Cano? So if they’re going this way, at least make it clear that the selections will be made by someone who knows a thing or two about baseball. Someone like Joe Torre , MLB’s Chief Baseball Officer.
And since the game doesn’t mean anything anymore, why don’t we allow each email registered voter selecting the starting lineups 178 chances to vote instead of the mere 35 each one gets now. That way the game can be cheapened even more. Seriously folks, what would be so bad about using the age old American idea of one man/woman, one (well thought out) vote.
So at least the emasculated Joe Maddon can rest easy knowing that all he’ll be responsible for now is make sure that, come hell or high water, every player on his squad gets in the game. Which actually is going to be a greater challenge than the the responsibility of selecting players, because they’ve also increased the size of rosters to 32……and wouldn’t that conversation have been funny, “Well, I think it should be 38. Why do you say 33? I don’t know, why do you say what you say….?”