There are a lot of pressing issues with baseball right now and, more importantly, the world. This may come as a surprise, but we here at Over the Monster don’t have great answers for you. That said, we still have some opinions on lower stakes questions, one of which I decided to have us tackle for this week’s Roundtable. MLB and the Players came to an agreement last night regarding a lot of scenarios for 2020, but as far as I can tell there is nothing about the All-Star Game in there. I am very curious what the plan is on that front. So, for this week’s question I told staff to imagine the season is starting at some point in July. Obviously that is no sure thing, but for this hypothetical we’re saying that’s the case. So, the season starts in July. The question is, what do they do about the All-Star Game?
I’m split on this. On one hand, I hate that All-Star selections are determined based off a half-season’s performance. This is how we get weird things like Marcus Semien being left off the All-Star team and finishing third in AL MVP voting. Things like that shouldn’t happen! I believe that if we’re going to earnestly award this honor that we should wait an entire season before doling it out.
On the other hand, being an All-Star doesn’t mean a whole lot. Evan Meek made an All-Star team once because the rules demand that every team be represented. Tens of players drop out every year because they’d rather be on a beach with their family so we end up with 20% of the league making an all-star team. The only reason it seems important is because Baseball Reference puts “ASG” under the awards column.
But, in the end the All-Star Game is about showcasing the games biggest stars to the wider public and entertainment for fans that get to see something they otherwise wouldn’t see.
I like the idea of playing the all-star game before the regular season kicks off. The format would be in the same vein as the NBA’s where two of the games biggest stars draft their teams and play an exhibition celebrating the return of sports in the United States. It’ll pop a big rating, the live gate will be huge, and tons of casual viewers will be exposed to the new wave of youth that has populated the sport.
I actually like the idea of starting the year with the All-Star Game. At the end of the day, it’s a pointless exhibition. And that’s how I feel it should stay, a pointless exhibition. By having it happen at the end of spring training (which is in itself a series of pointlessness, in terms of wins and losses anyway), you keep the pointless exhibition games all together. I’d like this to not just be a this year thing, but an every year thing.
This also can serve as a final tune up game for the best players in the game, which well help them get ready for the season, and potentially jazz them up.
I still think there should be a break in the middle of every season, but I don’t think the All-Star Game should be played there anymore. Instead, I think it is important to give players a break, and let them be with their families for at least a little while.
The biggest downside is that the game probably becomes even more of a popularity contest. However, it improves the odds that guys who had amazing springs get one more chance to shine on national television (think of Jo Adell or Mackenzie Gore getting a chance to compete against the best the majors have to offer in an exhibition!) and may help to grow the game beyond just the top 25-50 players in baseball year in and year out.
I think what makes the most sense in an abbreviated season would be to conduct All-Star festivities after the season. The Los Angeles Dodgers are the hosts this year so if it ends up being in early November the weather shouldn’t be a huge issue which helps. The end of the season makes the most sense so voters have a couple of months of baseball to vote instead of a few weeks if MLB we’re to try and stick it in the middle as usual. Plus, it seems like a fun way to cap a what would be a weird season. Concluding the World Series and then jumping right into a Home Run Derby to celebrate the season-ending just seems like it would have a different feel to it and be a nice way wrap up the year. I still think the All-Star Game and accompanying festivities should happen to reward good play and I mean if we get a Home Run Derby like last year it would just be a perfect lead into the cold offseason months.
If the season is able to sometime in July, I think it would be a great idea to start the season with the All-Star Game. There would be no other major sports playing at that time and what better way to bring “normalcy” than to have a fun no-stakes game. I would change up how the rosters are selected though. Wouldn’t it be fun to have the MVP Award winner (Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger) pick the lineups and the winner of the Cy Young (Justin Verlander and Jacob deGrom) pick the pitching rotations? I think so.
I really enjoy the All-Star game during a 162-game season spread across six months. It’s a nice break and a chance to see the players who are really dominating on one field. If baseball does start in 2020, the season will be contracted and that makes the All-Star Game less of a priority to me. If we’re already losing a full season, shortening it even further for an exhibition isn’t necessary.
As many baseball fans have since The Tie, I’ve experienced the All Star Game with mixed emotions over the years. After growing up with Yankee All Stars I was frustrated at how few choices Terry Francona got to make. Then I was glad players on my team got the extra days of rest. Then I was excited to see young newcomers like Trout and Harper as the faces of the game. In a perfect world, the game is always in the approximate middle of the season and voting determined mostly by history but somewhat by a good recent season.
The season, if it starts in July, should 100% begin with an All Star Game. If the rumored August schedule is used instead, skip it. We need every game possible in that case to salvage some sort of long season. If it’s Scott Boras’ 162-games though December? Maybe play the game in October or something.
As a kid, the All-Star Game was one of the most exciting games of the year for me. I grew up a huge Sox fan, but my brother has always been a die-hard Marlins fan, making the AL vs NL a big rivalry for us as kids. However, the recent rule change (no longer awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the winning league) has rendered the All-Star game quite unimportant. I would take the NFL’s approach to the Pro Bowl with the All-Star game this year, and have the game played in between the championship series and World Series. If a player in the All-Star game is also in the World Series, he simply won’t play in the ASG, and will be replaced by a reserve. While I still love the All-Star game, it should play second fiddle to completing the regular season in a timely manner.
The All-Star game is fun and all but it largely exists to break up the calendar, as far as I can tell, which would make it cumbersome to squeeze into a shortened season. My solution would be to not even bother, and to vote on All-Stars at the end of the year and have it as a mere honorarium. The game is already not representative of a full season, and trying to squeeze it into a shortened season makes less sense than having the winner of said game have home field advantage for the World Series. I cannot believe how silly that was! At least the NBA’s wildly successful Elam Ending was about making the self-contained game exciting; giving the players the chance to play for their division rivals’ playoff superiority never quite grokked to me. On top of all this, the All-Star Game was going to be in Dodger Stadium, and the Dodgers have a team of All-Stars playing every night. No reason to squeeze the ones that don’t matter out for the ones that do.
When I asked this question I was pretty staunchly against the idea of starting the season with the All-Star Game. Reading some of the responses has softened my stance some on that front, but ultimately I still don’t think that should be the case. I love the All-Star Game even as I grow older and just generally more cynical, so I don’t want it to go away completely. To me the best format would be something akin to what the NFL does with the Pro Bowl and putting it during a stretch of a couple off-days before the World Series. Play a Futures Game and a Home Run Derby one day and then the actual game, minus World Series participants, the next day as a lead-in to the Fall Classic.
Assuming we will have baseball in July, which I am growing more optimistic about by the day, I believe they should not play an actual All-Star game. The players should put all their efforts towards using the time that they have to effectively get in as much of the schedule as they agree to play. Taking out a multi-day event like the All-Star game will allow them to play the games in the safest possible way by not squeezing in even more games than they will already be forced to. After the regular season is complete, or towards the end of the year, they should have fans vote on the All-Star rosters and agree to either a postseason, Pro Bowl type game, or to just have their achievement be on paper. Regular season games are far and away the number one priority here.