We, as a society, are always evolving. Whether it’s with technology or something else, we have evolved. The things that kept kids attention 20 years ago will not hold the attention today. Video games, DVD players, iPads and other technological advances have opened our minds to a whole new world of adventure. This is also true in the world of sports. Games evolve. Players get bigger, stronger, faster and smarter, making it necessary for adjustments to be made in both equipment and rules. One example of this is the recent rules in the NFL regarding concussions and players being cleared to play.
With this in mind, I think MLB should take a long, hard look at the All-Star game and the activities surrounding it. In the midst of a steroid scandal and certain star players facing possible suspensions, baseball needs the All-Star game to get the mind off of the bad and to refocus on the good. Some of the All-Star game, though, has lost its luster to fans. It’s time to revamp the game and the festivities surrounding it. Here are some changes that should be made.
The Home Run Derby is a lot of fun to watch and always has been. I do not think it should be changed other than I would scale it back a little bit. The only reason I say that is because I want to see time made for a few other things that would be a lot of fun for the fans to watch. For instance, add a skills championship to Monday night. The NBA added a skills championship several years back where a player must take the ball and dribble through a series of obstacles, make precision passes, shoot a free throw and make a layup all while being timed. I think something similar could be added to the MLB All-Star game.
Add a competition in which you have outfielder show off their arms and accuracy. Set up a target at each base and an outfielder must throw from their normal position and hit the target. Depending on distance to the base the player would get a set number of points. After five throws, the player with the most points wins the competition. In the same respect, you could add an accuracy competition for pitchers. A backdrop could be placed at home plate with holes set up on the corners of the strike zone. The pitcher would be given 10 pitches to hit the targets. Any target hit would be worth points. If the pitcher could hit all four targets in the pitches allowed, then he would get a bonus. Again, pitcher with most points would win the challenge.
As far as the All-Star game itself, I think it’s time to rethink the rule that says every team must be represented at the game. There are many years where a team does not have a worthy representative but they had to have one anyways. What usually happens in this case is another player is left off even though they are more deserving of the position. If the game is strictly exhibition, this rule is fine. However, now that they are playing for home-field advantage in the World Series, each team should have the very best on the team. Remove the rule and lets get the very best no matter what team they come from.
Also, the manager needs to be taken out of the player selection process. There are too many biases that can happen when a manager is choosing a pitcher from his team or another team. Justin Verlander didn’t have All-Star numbers but his manager Jim Leyland picked him even though there was several other pitchers more deserving. All in all, the game is fun and fans love it. Lets add a little spice though and evolve.
Greg Higgins is a MLB contributor for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @greghiggins457