Unlike the midseason All-Star contests in basketball, ice hockey and football, the MLB All-Star Game has never been about offense.
If the last two seasons are any evidence, it will always be dominated by the game’s best pitchers. But from a viewing perspective, does this mean that the game is now starting to become boring? Is it possible that the MLB All-Star Game is too much of a pitcher’s duel?
In short, yes.
As wonderful as it is to watch a pitcher throw a no-hitter or perfect game, the value in baseball is in the offense. People want to see doubles through the gap and home runs that soar over the fences. They don’t want to see 2-4-6 double plays or 1-2-3 innings, especially in a game that is supposed to feature the best players.
Now, for the first time in All-Star Game history, the game has ended in a shutout twice in a row.
Just like last season when the NL won 8-0, the game was not competitive. From Mike Trout‘s first-pitch double off of Matt Harvey to Joe Nathan‘s scoreless ninth, the AL was in control of the game literally from start to finish. They may have only scored three runs off of tough NL pitchers, but the AL staff limited its opponent to just three hits, which is tied for second-fewest in the game’s history.
Of course, the game did introduce a slew of young stars, but that was probably the most exciting part of the entire night. Well, that and the way that Mariano Rivera got a much-deserved, final sendoff. Other than that, the game itself was dull, lackluster and unexciting.
But is there anything to do about the game inevitably becoming pitching dominated?
Think about the other three All-Star games. In basketball, shooting 50 percent from the field is good. In hockey, a 33 percent power play is good. In football, well, its the Pro-Bowl so there is really no value there anyway. But in baseball, a good average is over .300, which means one hit in about every three at-bats.
And while a .300 average is a tough task for an individual, it is much more difficult to accomplish as a team. To put that into context, this year’s best-hitting team, the Detroit Tigers, is batting just .281. By contrast, the NBA‘s best shooting team, the Miami Heat, shot 46.8 percent from the field.
So to see the West shoot 55 percent and the East shoot 49 percent in the 2013 NBA All-Star Game is really not that surprising. But to see a team score no runs on just three hits in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game? The law of averages says that shouldn’t have happened.
However, to change the All-Star Game might not be the best idea either. After all, home-field advantage is on the line, meaning that both leagues want to win. So to see pitching excel like it might in a normal game is actually a good sign for the players and the teams.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t help the fans.