Petco Park, home of the 2016 All-Star Game
I read an interesting article where Joe Girardi discusses what it was like coaching in the MLB all-star game in 2010 and what changes he thinks are necessary to improve the game. His main argument was that the best players need to be chosen, even if it means some teams aren’t represented at the game. Although I disagree with Girardi on that point, I do feel that something needs to be done about fans stuffing the ballots in favour of players who play for the team they cheer for.
Many fans of the game have enough baseball sense, and common sense for that matter to vote for the most deserving players…but far too many voters like the idea of their entire team starting in the all-star game, whether they deserve to or not. I understand it must be terribly exciting for fans of the Kansas City Royals or Chicago Cubs to have so many of their players present at the all-star game, but the rest of the baseball world has no interest in seeing a player hitting less than a mediocre .237. And how is that player supposed to feel about playing in an all-star game when they know all too well they don’t belong there.
Much like baseball has placed far too much importance on the home run, so has the all-star game. Not many things in the game are as fun to see as a long majestic moon shot of a dinger, but to have to sit through 3 rounds worth of home runs is taxing on both the fans and the players. Baseball is about so much more than just home runs, and there are several other skills that could be put on display at the all-star game that would be new and exciting for fans to experience. How about best outfield arm that gauges the accuracy and strength of each competitor. Where all the best outfield arms go out to a mark in center field and take turns seeing who can make the most accurate throw from 300 ft, with a penalty being assessed any time the ball bounces or for how far the catcher is pulled off the plate to make the catch. Or how about an event for fastest runner around the bases…imagine the likes of Billy Hamilton, Jarrod Dyson, Billy Burns and Brett Gardner competing against each other in such an event.
Another thing that MLB needs to address is the criteria that is considered when selecting the host city for the all-star game. The only prerequisite these days for hosting the game seems to be that the host team plays in a recently built stadium. Rather than awarding the all-star game to teams who’ve built new stadiums mostly with public funds, perhaps major league baseball would be setting a better example by awarding the game to organizations that do more for their community than just provide baseball in a stadium built mostly with public money. That being said, Petco Park in San Diego is a much better example of a venue funded by a healthy and fair balance of private and public money, but far too many host cities of late have not and the cost of such a venue has become a huge burden on those communities. An unfortunate trend is happening in major league baseball where the league is condoning the act of teams getting as much as they can from the public when it comes to covering the costs of new stadiums by awarding said cities with one of the biggest and brightest events in the game.
Lastly, why on earth has it been 26 years since the all-star game has been held in arguably the ballpark that best represents everything that is great about baseball? Since the last time Wrigley Field and the Cubs played host to the all-star game in 1990, both the Padres and Pirates have hosted two all-star games. Even worse, it’s actually been 36 years since the game was held at Dodger Stadium. When it comes to the all-star game, has the league forgotten about one of the most popular and storied franchises in baseball? For some reason the all-star game selection committee seems to think that only new ballparks are deserving to host such an event. Regardless of what teams have new stadiums, the all-star game should be distributed equally amongst all the teams in the league, rather than just the ones who’ve begun the unnecessary and expensive habit of moving into a new stadium every 30 years. It’s time for Major League Baseball to change how it goes about selecting the host city for the all-star game, and it should start by awarding the game to Dodger Stadium, followed by Wrigley Field so that those iconic venues and organizations can be celebrated rather than ignored.