Over the years, the MLB All-Star Game has taken on a whole new feeling and meaning following the disaster that was the 2002 All-star game which ended in a tie. Since then, Bud Selig has reorganized the game and has given it a new sense of meaning by giving home-field advantage to the winning league of the game. While I have no problem with Mr. Selig putting this provision in for the winner of the game, I do believe the commissioner needs to make yet another change to an outdated rule surrounding the All-Star game.
Traditionally, each team has been allowed to have one representative for the All-star game no matter how bad or how good the team is. This was likely put in place for teams to be equally represented and thus, fans from all markets could be drawn to the game. For teams like the Minnesota Twins—who have benefited from this rule during their down years such as the mid-1990s—this is a great rule because it ensures that no matter how bad the team gets, there will always be one player representing the team in the mid-Summer Classic; however, this rule is outdated and needs to be changed.
With the provision that the winning league is granted home-field advantage in the World Series, the dynamic of the All-Star game has changed. This provision was put in place for managers and players to take the game more seriously and the message has been largely received by all; however, is it really fair for a manager/league to play in such a crucial game without the best players in the league on the roster? By requiring each team to be represented by at least one player, roster spots are being taken up by players who aren’t as valuable or worthy of a spot compared to a better player who is left off the roster simply because another team needed to have a representative.
If the All-Star game is to continue to operate under the new provision of home-field advantage for the winning league, they need to allow the manager to fill the roster as they wish and not with a player from each roster to fulfill a requirement. I have no problem allowing fans to vote for the starting lineup for each team because it prevents a manager from playing favorites and it allows for a nice interaction piece with the fans of the game, but the remaining roster spots should be the manager’s choice. If the manager is going to be in charge of leading his team to a victory and securing home-field advantage, he should be allowed to build the roster as he sees fit in order to play to his managing style/strength. Whether that means some teams are represented or not, is irrelevant.
Fortunately for the Twins, they have players like Joe Mauer and future prospects like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano where they may continue to receive an All-Star representative even without the one player per team requirement because of the players’ talent on the roster. In my opinion, that is why the player should be elected or voted for in the first place: their talent. If a player is truly deserving of an All-Star spot, he should let his playing do the work and not some provision. Sure, fans tend to elect big names because they are familiar to them; but if a player has a good enough season and the manager is allowed to fill out the roster, the player will certainly be noticed and rewarded.
I understand that this change may worry some Twins’ fans because they may be concerned that the team is going to fall into a talent abyss—or may trade away some of their established stars/veterans—and may not have a representative to watch over the next few years; but think about it this way: since the Twins are a few years away from contention, wouldn’t you want the rule changed so that when the Twins are contending for titles again, they have the best chance to earn home-field should they advance to the World Series?
In my opinion, the answer to that question is simple; but in the end, fans may not be able to see the big-picture ramifications of the current provision because of the short-term distress the team is enduring. Change is needed in the All-Star game, but the likelihood of it occurring is similar to the Twins’ playoff chances this season: slim to none.