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Forget Yasiel Puig and just make the All-Star Game a game

Jun 27, 2013, 12:50 PM EDT

American League All-Stars Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees stands with Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers before the Major League Baseball All-Star Game Home Run Derby in Kansas City Reuters

Upwards of 80 major leaguers will again call themselves All-Stars this year. 34-man rosters mean than a ridiculous 68 players will be eligible for the game. Another eight, 10, 12 or maybe more will be ruled out for the game because of injuries or because they were starting pitchers that pitched the Sunday before the game. In 2011, there were actually 84 All-Stars.

And that’s ridiculous. Unless we’re going 15 innings, it takes no more than 42 players to play a major league baseball game (two 25-man rosters, minus the eight starting pitchers going unused on any given day).

The draw of the All-Star Game is to see the best players face off against one another. Ideally, that’d happen for nine innings. Instead, it happens for four or five before the backups start taking over.

That’s what I’d like to see change. First, the All-Star Game needs to be pushed back to Wednesday, a simple move that brings any Sunday starters back into the contest. The Home Run Derby can be Tuesday instead. And, ideally, this would give the Futures Game its own day on Monday, instead of being played on Sunday while the major league action is still going on. The Futures Game, showcasing many of baseball’s very best prospects, is typically far more entertaining than the Derby, but it’s seen by only a handful while airing opposite major league games.

Second, just slash the rosters all to hell. I’d go 13 hitters and nine pitchers. Or we can do 25 if we have to, in case we do go beyond 10 innings. But let’s only invite the best of the best. Let’s have Miguel Cabrera facing Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. Last year, Elvis Andrus, Billy Butler and Matt Wieters made the final three outs of the game, facing three different National League pitchers. How incredibly lame is that?

Also, please spare me the argument that including the hot-shot young prospect makes the game more interesting. No one is tuning into the All-Star Game just so that Yasiel Puig can get a single at-bat 2 1/2 hours into the contest. It’s not 1985 anymore. Anyone curious about Puig can get their fill of highlights on demand.

I say we pencil in three starting pitchers for the first six innings and three relievers from there, with another three guys serving as mid-inning replacements if needed. Free up the managers to keep the position players in for nine innings and only make changes when warranted. Stop the silly “everyone has to play” ideal. It lessens the game. With 22-man rosters, it’ll be more of an honor just to be invited, whether the player is going to get that one seventh-inning at-bat or not.

Of course, this change also necessitates the ditching of the “every team gets a rep” rule. And to that I’d say good riddance.

I don’t believe any of this is going to happen. But it seems to me that the league (and FOX) seems more interested in getting people to tune into the All-Star Game for a spell rather than actually watch it from beginning to end. There’s a more compelling game to be had here if the league would trim the fat.

  1. danglickman - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    If they were to ever ditch the “at least one player per team” (which will never happen), I’d suggest they require that a player from the “home” team still be included, just for the local fans.

    • apmn - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:48 PM

      And limit the number of players from a single team to two.

      • dan1111 - Jun 27, 2013 at 2:06 PM

        That rule would be in a similar spirit to the “every team gets a player rule”, and would similarly get in the way of just selecting the best players, which is what should happen.

  2. specialkindofstupid - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    The mental image of an old man telling kids to get the heck off his lawn popped into my head while reading this for some reason.

    Despite this mental image, and possibly partly because of it, I agree 100% with this article. It’s time to trim the fat.

    • yahmule - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      This is trimming the fat with a broadsword.

  3. blacksables - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    I’ll agree with everything except the ‘every team gets a rep’ rule. I think that’s a mistake, but it is an exhibition game and for the fans. All the fans, not just the fans of teams that win. It’s hard enough to see some teams showcased on national broadcasts (not eveyone gets the packages) and a player for those team should be there.

    A better rule, to ensure this happens, is to keep the East Coast and West Coast (big market) teams getting 6-8 reps. Limit them to no more than 3 and every team gets a chance.

    If a team has 6 players that deserve to be on the All-Star team, they’ll be seen in the post season. And if they aren’t, then they didn’t really have that many All Stars.

    • 18thstreet - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      Thanks to that rule, the Red Sox sent Scott Cooper twice. (Mo Vaughn was more deserving, but first base was well-stocked back then.) Was there a single person, anywhere, who turned into the game to see Scott Cooper?

      • heyblueyoustink - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:49 PM

        Why didn’t Mo Vaughn just eat Scott Cooper and the other first base men?

      • blacksables - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:55 PM

        So you’re saying that the All-Star is only first basemen who hit a lot of homeruns?

        I would have to disagree and say that good defensive players and guys who steal bases deserve just as much recongition.

        And if you have 10 All-Star first basemen, how do any of them stand out against the others to deserve the slot?

        It’s simple. 2 players at each position, 10 pitchers, 1 utility all-star, and 1 honorary all-star.

        30 players per team, one rep from each team, no bloated positions or over-represented teams, and everyone wins.

      • 18thstreet - Jun 27, 2013 at 2:26 PM

        Black Sables: I’m sorry I was confusing. All I was saying is that Mo Vaughn was a more deserving all All-Star, given that he was the best player on the Red Sox (which Scott Cooper was not). Mo would have been a fine selection except that the AL had plenty of great first basemen and not much depth at third.

        Here: http://www.fangraphs.com/graphsw.aspx?players=899,1002600

        Mo Vaughn was better than Scott Cooper. Scott Cooper was not a good defensive player or guy who stole bases. He was not a deserving all-star. I’m sure he’s a fine human being.

  4. American of African Descent - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    I agree with everything in the post. For those who believe that every team needs a rep, what are you smoking? Some teams just do not have any all-stars, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    I would add, though, that the rosters should include three or four Least Valuable Pitchers that can be called upon in case the game goes into extras and the all-star pitchers are exhausted. The teams can each ask some AAA pitchers or some journeymen to join the team for the evening, but those pitchers won’t be announced unless and until they come into the game.

  5. Anoesis - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Could not agree more. For a game that determines home-field in the WS shouldn’t it be played a least a little like a real contest?

    • yahmule - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      Better yet, they could do away with that stupid home field gimmick entirely.

  6. jeffbbf - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    Bitch, bitch, bitch…

    It’s still the best all-star game of any of the major sports, and the only one where defense is played close to what it is during a regular game. It’s a fun game where the fans get to pick who starts – and regardless of complaints, they get it right about 80% of the time. So sit back, enjoy the fun, and stop whining.

  7. lessick - Jun 27, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Go to 25-man rosters, and for compromise’s sake, no team can go back-to-back years without an All-Star.

  8. 161andriver - Jun 27, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    I love the all star game. I watch it every year, watch the HR derby, sometimes I even watch the celeb softball game. But my only gripe would be, the all star game doesn’t know what it wants to be. Is it a fun game, to showcase players around the league? Is it a serious competition of two teams battling for home field advantage for the World Series? I believe it should be one or the other, they’re trying to walk this middle ground. If you want Jim Leyland to manage a game like it’s important, don’t force him to take a Houston Astro on his roster.

  9. louhudson23 - Jun 27, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Loved to watch as a kid in the 60’s and seventies….these days,not nearly as exciting due to bloated rosters,fan voting and everybody plays mentality…..oh,sorry, thats what the OP was about….never mind….

    • qacm - Jun 27, 2013 at 4:06 PM

      I’m old enough to remember when the starting pitchers in the All-Star Game would pitch for three innings and do it gladly. Now all you get is one inning. Pussies.

      • ashoreinhawaii - Jun 27, 2013 at 7:53 PM

        Well said.

  10. losanginsight - Jun 27, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Going 6-12 with a jack and sweeping the ants didn’t help Puigs cause.

  11. dondada10 - Jun 27, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    The player’s union would never allow it. Way too many players have bonuses in their contracts that are contingent upon making the ASG.

  12. vincentbojackson - Jun 27, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    Amazing that people always get so worked up about the MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL all-star games.

    They’re exhibitions. If you’re tuning in expecting anything else you’ll be disappointed. If you temper your expectations to a realistic level you’ll allow yourself to be entertained.

  13. rmcd13 - Jun 27, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    The less thought given to the All-Star Game the better. It’s an incredibly boring exhibition game. Just forget about it.

  14. ashoreinhawaii - Jun 27, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    I agree, and also agree that this will never happen. I would add one more thing, have the players vote for the players like they did in the 60’s.

  15. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jun 27, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    No way any of this would work without removing the fan vote entirely, and that’ll never happen. In addition, managers need to get away from this everyone needs to play bull. This isn’t little league. And it’s damn embarrassing to watch these managers fall all over themselves to caress everyone’s egos by getting them in the game.

  16. anxovies - Jun 27, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    The players and managers and general managers ought to pick the starting 8 position players and the starting pitcher and relief pitcher for their respective leagues. The fans can then fill out the roster by voting for their local heroes, over-the-hill veterans and rookie phenoms. Then it is a true honor to be named by your peers as an All-Star starter and the fans still get to participate. There should be no rule about a player from every team. First, it’s embarrassing for the player, and second, if the fans want an All-Star let them pressure the owners to develop or acquire better players. For God’s sake, it’s possible that Derek Jeter could be voted in as a starter, he wouldn’t play of course, but just saying.

  17. Tim's Neighbor - Jun 28, 2013 at 2:23 AM

    Pouliot complains like a Negative Nancy. The sun rises. Everyone is shocked.

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