The 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star game is about to get under way again, and like is the case every year, media pendants from around the world convene on how the all-star game needs a face life, or in some media circles, including the great Prime Time Sports hosted by one of my television staples, Mr.Bob McCown. go so far to say that in their experienced minds, the All-star game in all sports should be thrown in the dumpster. On a personal level, I'm not inclined to generally pay much attention to the game affectionately known as the "Midsummer classic", with midsummer the only accurate word in this moniker as the game embarrasses the word classic as I feel tuning into a game that has no relevance, and yes I understand under previous commissioner Bud Selig has turned the winner of this atrocity into having it's league hoist home field advantage in the World Series is simply not worth my while. I'd rather spend my Sunday television slot inclined to watching the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic. Nothing is more re-assuring for a perennial contender such as the Detroit Tigers than watching the likes of basement dweller Boston Red Sox instilling Brock Holt at second base in the ninth inning. I mean, Holt will be in full-on Boston Bruins mode by the time World Series is underway if he's indeed a hockey fan, which as a proud Canadian how can you not be. Holt might as well enthrust in practicing playing second base throwing left handed as for him the game is an exhibition. That's just one issue with this in the sense that for some players depending on where they sit in the standings, this is a recreational exhibition but for players such as Jose Iglesias and Trevor Rosenthal of the St.Louis Cardinals, this greatly impacts the chances of this team taking home the games ultimate prize. The game at the end of the day, is for the fans but at also the purist baseball fan does not want to see an All-star contest to impact the legitimacy of the entire baseball season, so how do we differentiate the two and make both watchable entities?
I could focus on ways to improve just the game itself, but to cover the entire grand scheme of All-Star weekend, I'm going to pen my thoughts on how the entire weekend can be better utilized. The home run derby, to quote ESPN's Chris Berman, it's "back, back, back,gooooone", which is honestly the only memorable thing about the derby now a days reminiscing on this particular sound bite. Credit to Rob Manfred as he has ridded the ten out rule and installed a head to head, timed event. The premise of the 2015 Home Run Derby is eight players will be paired in matches of two in a traditional bracket format with each given five minutes to belt as many homers as they can with the winner advancing to the next round. I say credit to Manfred because the format is innovative but unfortunately not enough for the average fan to give a damn. My suggestion for a way to fix the derby, is by paying homage to the legends of the game. Who actually falls under the legend category is subjective as with the steroid era dominating the 80's and 90's, some players who would've normally been considered the superstars of yesterday some may feel are better suited for a jail cell for how they cheated the game. Being this year's game is being hosted by Cincinnati, Ohio we can begin by inviting home town hero Ken Griffey Jr to the event. If you could showcase the likes of Griffey, Mark McGwire, the nine fingered Jose Canseco(at least TMZ wanted you to believe that), and the paler than Michael Jackson Sammy Sosa, you could reinvigorate these players who stole 90 headlines to a generation that wasn't able to follow the careers of these aforementioned stars. Then, after the derby is complete, it's time to take a page out've the NHL All-Star game by hosting a skills competition. We could have a fastest runner competition, once again featuring prominent names of the past including Tom Goodwin, Quinton McCracken, and Delino Deshields. Basically, a simple trot around the bases could determine who the fastest runner is. Next, a strongest arm competition could be consummated, keeping up with his ever enticing stars of the past theme, I would like to see such figures as Vlad Guerrero, Jim Edmonds, and player in my opinion probably not destined for the hall of fame but should be and that is former Toronto Blue Jay Shawn Green. Watching these retro gun slingers fire away from center field to home plate would be a treat. Lastly, when discussing this retro skills competition suggestion, the hardest pitch could round out the Saturday evening. Included in this competition I would have Antonio Alfonseca, the south paw disappointing New York Yankee Randy Johnson, and the I thought he retired years ago and probably should have LaTroy Hawkins. There you have it folks, that's how this blogger could do a needed service to Major League Baseball and clean up the mess that has become All-Star weekend. Now the more pressing question, what to do with the game itself.
I could be very cognizant of the fact that I spent the entire last paragraph pumping up a retro Skills competition but I won't be as predictable by suggesting that Manfred should consider playing the game with the real "All-Stars, the legends, so I'll reprocess my thoughts and figure out a different way to strengthen the game. First off, I'm not going out on a limb when I say scrap the World Series home field going to the winner. That's the dumbest idea in the world of sports since the National Hockey League inexplicably chose to award a franchise to the city of Atlanta, although people of Winnipeg may have a different opinion. What I'll suggest is in opposite correlation to the skills event and that is to make the game a young stars showcase. Frankly, veterans like Albert Pujols and Mark Teixeira, who I'm sure by this point have lost count how many all-star appearances they have respectively view this as an obligation and don't feel the need to strut their fullest capabilities. Would you not rather turn on the television, or be at the ball park in Cincinnati and be witness to players busting their ass because they want to have their marketability increased unlike Pujols and Texeira who by this point, marketability is the furthest thing from their mind. At it's quintessential core, that in my eyes is what the game should be about, marketing the athletes and I find it a tad baffling as to why Manfred and company aren't putting more of an emphasis on building the fan bases of the Carlos Correa's and Didi Gregorious's of the world. Manfred is a successful business man, and a savvy business specimen would be aware you don't gain long term profit by showcasing what your company has done in the past, it's about what your company will be presenting for the future. Also, in a minor twitch to how the all-star game is presented, although bold, but then again nothing the blog isn't already known for, perhaps make it mandatory to players to swing the bats at all cost to dissuade the art of the All-star walk. My brother would know about this first hand as he once attended a San Francisco Giants game back in 2013 when they were squaring off against the Boston Red Sox which to the unsatisfactory conclusion of himself, ended in a walk. Just imagine attending an exhibition by paying a ridiculous amount of money, sometimes over $100 to have it end in a glorified walk? It would be an infamous but ugly way to end the star studded contest.
There you have it, the All-star game in Baseball is an atrocity but as this blog continues to captivate the imaginations of many, it's only time that Rob Manfred will become a loyal follower and instill these changes that would make me, and the other one person who reads this quite happy!