There has been, of course, a lot of chatter leading up to tonight's All-Star game. As with just about every conversation about baseball, many of the conversations focus on how unpopular the game has become. Well, unpopular shouldn't be the word since it's more popular than all the other All-Star games. But less popular than it once was.
One thing they pointed to this year is the lack of long-time stars. With Papi gone, there isn't that player you need to tune in to see. And, to some extent that's true. If I look at the AL starting line-up, other than Betts and Sale, I had a hard time remembering which team the players were from.
But, there's a bigger reason.
As unfamiliar as the starters are, about a third of the way through the game all those players will be replaced by players even less well-known. Because ever since Joe Torre took it upon himself to ruin All-Star games, managers have been insisting on playing every player. So, if I'm interested in seeing the runner-up to the AL MVP last season, I don't have much chance. He's batting ninth, for some reason. He'll be out of the game after three innings and a single trip to the plate. He'll be replaced by someone who didn't finish at the top of the MVP list. By someone not as talented or exciting, just so everyone can play. What's interesting about that? How does that draw me to watch?
(True, sometimes...ok lots of times...the starter is just as undeserving. Which is why the voting needs to be eliminated when it comes to assembling teams. But, that's a story for another post.)
All this constant subbing just waters down the game. To what benefit? So that if I'm a fan of the Royals, I can wait around and see my guy take one trip to the plate? You're sacrificing the good of the game to make Royals fans happy? So, rather than using the game as it's supposed to be, to showcase the best talent the game has to offer, we're just doing a red carpet show where everyone gets a chance to smile for the cameras? Does MLB realize that the red carpet portion draws fewer viewers than the actual awards show?
Imagine a game the way it used to be. A chance to see the best players compete against the best players. Wanna know how Bryce Harper would fare against Craig Kimbrel? Not in this game. Bryce won't last that long. Shouldn't he though?
If you want people to watch the game, the first step is to make it worth watching. And that means playing the best players. Imagine a Broadway Show were the understudies take over at intermission. Or if Springsteen played two songs, and then let a tribute band finish the set. People would demand a refund.
Why doesn't MLB see that? If you want people to watch, put a good product on the field.
Make it actually be an All-Star game.
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