My interest in baseball's All-Star fesitivities has waned a great deal over the years (even before I started blogging on a regular basis in 2007), such that I always take a certain amount of amusement whenever fans work themselves into fits over who does and doesn't make the roster, and endlessly carp about all of the silly technicalities attached to the game itself (e.g. at least one All-Star from each team, "this one counts," etc.).
But, with that said, and with my cynicism towards the game itself now out in the open, I can say with a clear conscience that I really like what Jeff Passan brought to the table in terms of ideas on how to "fix" the All-Star Game, in a column which leads with a rather scathing assault on Bud's great genius:
The square peg that is the All-Star game and the black hole that is Bud Selig’s idea to make it count for something are back for their ninth year of nonsensical commingling. There is no worse rule in baseball. It rivals the BCS for the most illogical thing in sports.
How the stupidity has survived almost a decade never fails to blow the mind. Home-field advantage in the World Series is a significant prize owed to the team that best survived the 162-game season. It is instead given to the team that emerges from the league lucky enough to prevail in an exhibition game managed by the same precepts and principles as a Little League contest.
It should not work both ways. If managers want to hand out the equivalent of participation trophies, the game should not count. If baseball wants the game to mean something, managers should stick with the best players – pitchers especially – for as long as necessary.
Absent direct orders from Selig, that won’t happen. And Selig won’t do bupkis. Already he’s seen as too much of a puppeteer. [...] The new-and-improved, counts-for-something All-Star game posted its worst TV rating ever last season. While TV isn’t all that matters, it’s enough of a barometer to show that the gimmick isn’t driving any interest.
And Passan's ideas, in order:
1. Abolish the World Series home-field advantage tie-in
2. Pay players an All-Star bonus
3. Trim the rosters back down to 30 players for each league
4. Require the starting lineup to play at least five innings, and the starting pitcher to log at least four innings
5. Give pitchers who pitch on the Sunday before the All-Star Game a choice of whether to participate
6. Move the All-Star Futures Game to Monday, before the Home Run Derby
7. Use metal bats in the Home Run Derby
8. Select Wily Mo Pena to participate in the Home Run Derby
Clearly, these are not all equivalent in importance, but I like some of the unconventional thoughts being churned out here, and, obviously, the case against "this one counts" being attached to the All-Star Game into perpetuity is a strong one. Baseball may not heed a single one of these suggestions, but at least they've been dispensed for public consumption in a high-visibility medium.
And as much as I really don't care for the All-Star Game at this point, I do have to recognize that being selected is something that matters to the players themselves (especially C.J. Wilson, who is finally getting the call after a very up-and-down major league career), and if that's something that makes Wilson and the rest of the Rangers' All-Star ensemble happier, well, that should matter to us as well.