The All-Star Game now has so many rules.
In what was once an exhibition game, now the game counts. But there are still parameters for selecting the rosters.
If the game is going to determine home-field advantage in the World Series -- which in and of itself can be another whole column -- it should not be required that every team have an All-Star.
I do see where MLB is coming from here. The league figures that if the small market teams have even just one player, those teams’ fanbases will tune into the game, thus increasing ratings.
But as is often the case, managers will take a less-deserving player just to have a particular team represented and will wind up leaving off a deserving player from a team that may already have a few All-Stars.
Since the game counts for what arguably can be a huge deciding factor in the outcome of the World Series, the best players in each league should play in the game. And to take it a step further, the starting players -- assuming those are the ones who deserve the nod instead of relying on the fan vote -- should play the whole game, rather than mixing and matching.
Usually, the manager of the All-Star team is managing a team that is in playoff contention, since it’s rare for a team that appeared in the World Series the year before to fall that far out of contention before the break.
The Detroit Tigers and Jim Leyland are leading their division, and despite a poor record, Bruce Bochy’s San Francisco Giants are a hot streak away from getting right back into the NL West race.
These managers have the chance to better their own position in potentially having home-field advantage in the World Series. Yet right now, they are restricted by the fact that every team needs to have a player represented.
If I was a manager and had a chance to earn home-field advantage in the World Series, I would want the best players in the league helping me achieve that goal. I would want the talented Yasiel Puig available off my bench instead of Everth Cabrera, who is having a very good all-around season but isn’t exactly a guy we think of when we are discussing the best players in the NL.
It’s certainly a flawed system in many ways, but the best players should be playing in the All-Star Game. The only exceptions should be injuries and pitchers that pitched on the Sunday before the game.
Luckily in today’s game, there are enough good players that most teams would likely be represented anyway. But the other sports do not mandate that each team be represented, and MLB should follow suit.
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