MLB: Send The Freeze to All-Star Week, and more fun ideas


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We’re officially two weeks away from the MLB All-Star Game, meaning that we are less than two weeks away from the Home Run Derby, baseball’s crown jewel for their All-Star break. The Home Run Derby is pretty great, and this year’s lineup could be as fun as any in recent history.

However, there’s plenty of room for more fun activities that MLB could add to the days leading up to the actual Midsummer Classic. The NBA has its Skills Competition, Dunk Contest, and Three-point Shooting Competition. Wouldn’t baseball benefit from adding a few more weekend bonuses of their own? (And no, we’re not counting the Celebrity Softball Game, as I don’t think anyone has actually tuned into that in 15 years. And I care about it so little about it that I’m not even going to google to figure out if it has even been around for 15 years.)

With that in mind, here are four propositions for fun additions to All-Star Weekend. They are all feasible, with some certainly more likely to be added than others.

Baseball seems dead set on convincing its fans that it needs to be improved whether it comes to pace of play, less of the three true outcomes, or finding another Face of Baseball, so why not try to tinker with a weekend that (*extremely old guy voice*) Just isn’t what it used to be. (For the record, I don’t think there’s actually anything wrong with All-Star Weekend, but I do think these would be fun additions, regardless.)

The fans would love these four additions, and the players probably would as well.

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Nasty Pitch-Off

Fun Rating: 9/10

This was the first idea that came to mind when thinking over fun additions to All-Star Weekend. Maybe it’s my hidden love for pitcher’s duels, but there’s nothing that quite gets me out of my seat like a filthy breaking ball or a blazing fastball. This could be done with an empty batter’s box, or toss a civilian in there (with some serious head and body protection) to really show just how filthy these pitches are.

Drawbacks: 7/10

Asking an already taxed portion of our baseball population to put their already weathered arms on display for something other than a real-life game seems a bit callous.

Likelihood: 2/10

With pitching injuries as prevalent as they are in the modern era, as awesome as this event would be, it seems like All-Star Weekend would have to be on absolute life support for the owners and front offices to sign off on this one.

Contenders: 8/10

Oh, there are just so many great options for this one. I’m pretty sure I am contractually obligated to embed Jose Berrios into each Call to the Pen article, so here’s our prohibitive favorite:

That thing moves like a wiffleball – just crazy.

However, Berrios would have plenty of competition. There’s Aaron Nola‘s fastball, Dellin Betances‘ curveball, and Clayton Kershaw‘s literally anything. (By the way, this event could totally be sponsored by Pitcher List, one of the best websites and Twitter follows out there.) Honestly, this field could be probably 100 pitchers deep and we’d still see some absolutely filthy pitches from the “lower tier.” There are just so many talented arms in baseball these days.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Slick Fielding Clinic

Fun Rating: 5/10

This one wouldn’t be quite as crazy as the Nasty Pitch-Off, if only because the logistics would be a bit trickier. Ideally, each slick fielder would take the field one at a time and get about a dozen liners, grounders, and pop flys to snag, scoop up, and chase down. Getting a perfect batter to give them the right amount of challenge without making it impossible is where it gets difficult. If the technology was in existence to use a machine to send the ball to the exact spot in the hole that Andrelton Simmons could get to, or the exact height so that Nolan Arenado could pull down a hot shot liner at third, this rating would jump up to a 9 or 10.

Drawbacks: 4/10

The main drawbacks is still the inability of a hitter who could place the ball exactly where it needs to be in order for fans to derive the most enjoyment possible out of this event. There’s some slight injury risk here, but far less than the Nasty Pitch-Off.

Likelihood: 4/10

This one actually seems feasible once the technology arrives (or the most accurate fungo hitter of all time steps forward). Baseball Tonight’s web gems were perpetually among their most popular segment, and the sport has always recognized the love for the defensive side of baseball from their fans.

Contenders: 5/10

This field isn’t quite as deep as the Nasty Pitch-Off, but there’s still some serious talent here. The aforementioned Andrelton Simmons would be the odds-on favorite in the infield, but Arenado, Adrian Beltre, and Manny Machado would have plenty to say about that.

The outfield crew would be stacked with names like Ender Inciarte, Kevin Kiermaier (when healthy), Kevin Pillar, and Byron Buxton.

Not too shabby.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Race The Freeze

Fun Rating: 8/10

For those who haven’t heard of The Freeze, check out any one of the many profiles on the Atlanta Braves sensation who has taken the league by storm in 2017. Holding off The Freeze, even with a massive head start, has proven difficult for numerous Braves fans this season.

Well, Bradley Zimmer has already challenged The Freeze, and we all know professional athletes might just be cocky enough to believe that they could actually take down this near-professional sprinter without any edge necessary. Watching them fail (or, who knows, maybe watching one of them pull of the upset) would be must-see TV.

Drawbacks: 3/10

Leaving hamstring injuries out of the equation (at some point, you have to be able to have some fun without worrying about injuries), the most obvious drawback would be that The Freeze could only be at full strength for one, maybe two races. He couldn’t face off with a dozen contenders and have the stamina to give each one of them his fastest attempt. Thankfully there’s a simple solution. While every player would want to face off with The Freeze, the league could simply time each of the eight contenders, with the best time getting to be the lone challenger to The Freeze. Viewers still get to see the eight fastest players in baseball sell out for a chance to face The Freeze, and then, after a long enough delay that the runner with the fastest time has recovered, pit The Freeze against his top potential competitor.

Likelihood: 9/10

I honestly think if we as fans all push for this idea (#FreezetoASG, maybe?) that baseball would go through with it. Maybe they wouldn’t have enough time to set up a whole field in time for this season, but if the league paid for his travel to Miami and put him up for the week, I’m sure he could find a way to race a few of our favorite speedy players around the league.

Contenders: 8/10

This is the strongest field outside of the Nasty Pitch-Off so far. There’s Billy Hamilton, Byron Buxton (once again), Dee Gordon, and the aforementioned Bradley Zimmer. This idea could also go the other way, and we could see if Albert Pujols could beat The Freeze around the bases even with a three-base lead. (I’m only half joking.)

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Make euphemistic language literal

Fun Rating: 10/10

I’m stealing this idea directly from Mallory Rubin and her contribution to Grantland a few years back because it is the best idea I have ever read in relation to “fixing MLB All-Star Weekend.” Everyone should give the link above a click and read, but the basic idea is to treat all of baseball’s weird little sayings as if they were being carried out by Amelia Bedelia. For example, we could have outfielders catch a literal can of corn; or make a giant pickle which runners could actually be stuck in; or have Clayton Kershaw serve up an actual meatball to Mike Trout. There will be plenty of trade rumors at All-Star Weekend, so we could have an actual hot stove from which reporters have to send their tweets out from. How about a few players from the actual Texas League show up? The possibilities are endless.

Drawbacks: 0/10

There are literally no drawbacks to this idea. It is perfect.

Likelihood: 4/10

It seems a little too corny for baseball to ever pour money into, but maybe if we wish it hard enough it will come into existence.

Contenders: 10/10

Baseball is filled to the brim with good eggs who will do incredibly dumb, but also awesome, things for team and league promotions.

Something tells me they would be all over this.

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