There has been a lot of discussion the last couple of days about the sheer number of players dropping out of the All-Star game. It’s an outrage, they say, that these players just can’t hop on a plane and play in a game their fans want them to play in. I couldn’t agree more. I’m very sorry if you’re tired from chasing a career milestone. You’re so overrated that people voted you to start the game. Show up, for crying out loud. But, to be fair, I think this all goes back to Joe Torre.
We complain that the players don’t respect the fans enough to show up at the game. If the fans cared enough to vote a player a starter, shouldn’t the player care enough to show up? I’m going to take it one step further. If the player cares enough about the fans to show up, shouldn’t the manager respect the fans enough to let the starter actually play? I can’t really blame the players when it’s Joe Torre who turned this into Little League. He’s the one who turned the All-Star game into a private Yankees party. He’d pull the starters as soon as he could to make sure everyone (read: Yankees) got the chance to play. He even admitted that he spent time figuring out a way to get Derek Jeter into the 1999 game at Fenway Park without getting booed. So, now we’re no longer asking players to give up their break and play an exhibition game. Now we’re asking them to give up their vacation time to play an exhibition two innings. Can we really blame them when they decide it’s not worth it? What if the managers decided to manage the game like it counted. Starters all actually played seven innings. The only substitution might be to bring in Jacoby Ellsbury to pinch run for Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth inning. Wouldn’t a starter be more willing to show up if they were actually there for a reason?
MLB is also to blame. The NBA has (or at least used to have) a rule that if you played in the game before the ASG, you had to play in the game itself. That’s a pretty good rule. So, if you played Sunday you have to play in the game. If not, you’re suspended for the game following the break. They’d have to figure out something to do with pitchers. But, they’d come up with something. Maybe if a pitcher pitched at any time the previous week. But, make the starters actually play a majority of the game. That fixes almost all of the problems.
While we’re hovering over the topic, the Home Run Derby is too long. Ten outs a round is an eternity. And, that’s ignoring the promotional stops for Gatorade every five swings or so. Five outs are plenty. The main problem with the home run derby is the same problem as with the dunk contest. After a while, every home run starts to look the same. Adrian Gonzalez can only hit so many homeruns to the second deck before it’s not exciting anymore. I was at the 1999 Home Run Derby. I saw McGwire just launch bomb after bomb. Could there have been a better script? The reigning home runs record holder launching moon shot after moon shot. But, after five balls cleared everything in left…it got a little dull. Ho Hum. Another ball just landed on Lansdowne. Every park has landmarks. Can anyone hit the warehouse in Baltimore? Will anyone hit the parking garage at Fenway? Once it’s been done, the rest is just batting practice. I’d even be in favor of three outs, but more players just to mix it up a bit.
It’s supposed to be fun.