The 2013 MLB All-Star Game is upon us, and unfortunately, the ridiculous rule that commissioner Bud Selig implemented in 2003 that makes this exhibition game relevant and meaningful sadly remains in tact.
The 2002 ASG ended in a 7-7 tie when managers ran out of pitchers after 11 innings. MLB would have you believe there was dynamic backlash to the game ending in a tie, so they had to step in and take drastic actions. Absurd. If there was any backlash, it was mild and would’ve faded away in a small amount of time — you know, like anything that happens in exhibition games. Selig implemented a rule that the winning team of the All-Star Game would get homefield advantage in the World Series. The results of an exhibition game would now play a major factor in the ultimate prize — a World Series championship. Did I mention that that idea is ridiculous?
The idea of having the All-Star Game determine homefield advantage in the World Series was a two-year trial that has been extended indefinitely. That 2002 All-Star Game saw 42 different All-Stars and 19 different pitchers bat at least once. Is that not a significantly legit display of the games best players? 61 players appeared in that game. The fact that that game ended in a tie was interesting only, it was not a massive threat to the integrity of the game.
There are rules for making a roster for the All-Star teams. How is that possible if the game is supposed to have meaning? How can you put parameters like every team has to have at least one player selected if the game has importance of World Series implications? You only want a rule that all teams have to be represented if this is an exhibition game for the fans — like it’s supposed to be!
In 2010, Matt Capps was the lone rep for the Washington Nationals, and he got the win for the National League, meaning the NL “earned” homefield advantage in the World Series. The San Francisco Giants took advantage of that and won Games 1 and 2 over the Texas Rangers in San Francisco en route to a World Series romp. The Giants had a pair of All-Stars that season: pitchers Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson. Lincecum threw as many pitches as you or I did (zero) and Wilson threw 10 total pitches to three total batters. The NL had 35 plate appearances and 135 pitches of which the Giants were responsible for just 10 pitches the entire game (zero at-bats) yet they reap the massive benefits of the NL All-Star win. By the way, Capps pitched in the playoffs that season after he was traded to the Minnesota Twins, so the winning pitcher of the “big,” “important” and “meaningful” game pitched in the postseason for a team in the other league.
Managers have not changed the way they approach the All-Star Game despite the “relevance” of the game either. In the 2010 game, David Ortiz got a lead-off hit in the ninth inning, bringing the tying run to the plate (3-1 NL). American League manager Joe Girardi allowed Adrian Beltre, John Buck and then Ian Kinsler to bat vs NL closer Jonathan Broxton despite having Alex Rodriquez available to pinch hit. These days I would not want Rodriguez to pinch hit for any team, but back in 2010 he was still the A-Rod that was a beast, and he was one of the premier hitters in the history of the game, yet he did not play. The New York Yankees made the playoffs that season, yet their own manager did not manage the All-Star Game with winning being the be-all and end-all.
The following season, Detroit Tigers star Justin Verlander won the AL MVP and Cy Young Award. That has only been accomplished a handful of times in MLB history — last was back in 1992 — yet Verlander threw zero pitches in the “all important” 2011 All-Star Game.
Since the rule was implemented in 2003, the MVPs of each league have totaled 41 plate appearances and their All-Star Game back-ups have 32. Almost 1:1, but if managers were placing relevance on the All-Star Game, wouldn’t we see the best players playing many innings instead of just enough for an at-bat or two? Yasiel Puig has slowed down in July, but if the game was important to the players/managers, wouldn’t the NL insist on adding him to their roster? The truth is they do not care because they still view the All-Star Game for what it really is — an exhibition for the fans.