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If baseball handled its All-Star Game like hockey does

Jan 31, 2011, 1:00 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants, Game 5 Getty Images

I am not a hockey fan — I knew very little about it actually — but I am fascinated with the way they’ve handled their All-Star Game in recent years.  They used to do that North America vs. the World thing.  Now they pick a couple of captains who choose their squads, playground style.  Very cool.

Today over at FanGraphs Jonah Keri — who knows from hockey, what with him being a Canuck and all — and Dave Cameron give baseball’s All-Star Game the NHL treatment.  You can probably guess that Albert Pujols was selected first.  After that there’s a lot of room for fun debate.

I like it, but I hate that they’ve imported the “everyone must play” rule that has come to dominate the real All-Star Game. If we’re going to change things, let’s change everything and mandate that this brave new hypothetical world of All-Star Games not require the pansy player usage patterns we’ve come to expect in the Midsummer Classic.  As such — and because this is a one-game affair — a starting pitcher would have to be my first pick.

Give me Roy Halladay.  I’ll pitch him seven or eight innings and the other side will be toast.

  1. yankeesfanlen - Jan 31, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    Hockey needs gimmicks. Baseball doesn’t.

    • Rosenthals Speling Instrukter - Jan 31, 2011 at 1:22 PM

      This time… counts!!!!!

      • yankeesfanlen - Jan 31, 2011 at 1:55 PM

        Gee, I guess things that have been fan favorites for decades might be just a flash in the pan. Where have you gone Honus Wagner?

      • ThatGuy - Jan 31, 2011 at 2:14 PM

        That doesn’t change the fact that they were gimmicky when they were installed. And you still have people that don’t like the DH or interleague play and pretty much everyone thinks making the all-star game for home field advantage is dumb. It appears by all accounts the new format for the NHL allstar game was a success, they had good ratings Friday for the draft(which is new so you can’t compare it to previous years) and ratings were up for the Skills competition and the actual game compared to previous years. For all you know this gimmick could turn into a fan favorite for decades…

    • Chris Fiorentino's Rash - Jan 31, 2011 at 1:25 PM


    • ThatGuy - Jan 31, 2011 at 1:29 PM

      Interleague Play…

  2. sdelmonte - Jan 31, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Hockey is the sort of sport where it’s easier for everyone to play, though. Given that the score was 11-10, I think everyone gets five minutes on the ice, scores a goal, and leaves. And then can come back later.

    It’s so odd that in the two all-star games yesterday, there wasn’t a hint of defense. So very different from a sport where the All-Star game should always be 1-0, given the caliber of pitching and the “one inning per pitcher” thing.

    • macjacmccoy - Jan 31, 2011 at 1:57 PM

      Lol I found that hilarious. The reason why Hockey all star games is an easier sport for everyone to play is bc thats how the game is played during the regular season. Hockey teams are set up in 4 offensive lines and 3 defensive lines and they come into games on shifts they usually last about a 1:30. Now the 1st line players are usually the best so they usually get more time on the ice and alot of the time the 4th line gets skipped bc u want ur best guys on the ice longer. But Hockey is a chemistry sport so unlike football and basketball where u can bring a sub in at any postition hockey lines are pretty strict. So you cant leave your 2 worst players on the bench and mis match the guys your gonna have on the ice bc that would hurt your team more then letting the bad players play.

      So when the all star game is played it doesnt have to be run different like the other sports all stars games are to let every one play bc thats how hockey teams are ran every game of the season.( expect for the goalies bc during the regular season most of the tiem only 1 goalie plays and in the all star game they switch goalies every period)

  3. Brian Murphy - Jan 31, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    I completely agree with most everything in your final paragraph, Craig. I’m not a hockey fan — at least not since the Gretzky-led Kings of the early 1990s — but I actually looked forward to watching that fantasy draft and really enjoyed it. I knew of maybe half the players, but it didn’t matter; that grade-school charm of picking sides and the friendly banter between them during the draft made it compelling. The same idea may become tedious in baseball due to the large rosters, but I’m sure some other league execs saw that spectacle Friday night and had a couple of light bulbs go off.
    There is never a bad time to hold a fantasy draft.

  4. bobulated - Jan 31, 2011 at 1:36 PM

    I think my favorite part of the pro-bowl yesterday was baseball writers like Heyman tweeting what a joke it was. So the NFL should use the All-Star game to decide where the Super Bowl will be or stop the game when it’s tied if they run out of QBs. That will make it respectable.

  5. ThatGuy - Jan 31, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    The NHL didn’t really incorporate the everyone must play in that there were teams who had no representives in the game. They brought in 12 rookies for the skills competition to showcase some young talent, and 3 or 4 teams were only represented by their rookies in that skills compeition.

    • Jonny 5 - Jan 31, 2011 at 2:43 PM

      Yeah, the choosing players aspect bites real bad, but that’s due to who picks them. I mean Briere only gets in because someone else couldn’t make it? Really? Danny Briere…. Seriously, he is one of the best in the sport. Scored 2 of the goals just to put emphasis on it.

  6. tadthebad - Jan 31, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    “Give me Roy Halladay. I’ll pitch him seven or eight innings and the other side will be toast.”

    Phillies prolly felt that way heading into the 2010 NLCS. Prolly.

    • seeingwhatsticks - Jan 31, 2011 at 3:57 PM

      Yeah, you can have Halladay and I’ll take Lincecum and we’ll see what happens.

      • bigdicktater - Jan 31, 2011 at 6:27 PM

        Amen, brother, Amen!

  7. AK47 - Jan 31, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    Love the piece Craig, posted one very similar yesterday on my own blog. I would love it if Baseball did away with the All-Star game meaning anything, and instead adopted this system that the NHL has. Name the highest vote getters in the AL and NL captains and have them “draft” teams before the HR derby. How much fun would that be?

    And whoever said “hockey needs gimmicks. baseball doesn’t”…give me a break. The HR derby is a gimmick, interleague play and having two different sets of rules (as others have pointed out) within the game is gimmicky. Millions of people out there play fantasy baseball and even if you didn’t, I think seeing a all-star fantasy draft would be fun.

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