All-Star games are not a spectacle anymore. Across the board, in every sport, All-Star games are starting to lose their luster, the interest of wanting to see glorified exhibition games slowly waning.
Back in the days before the internet, satellite television and the ability to see pretty much any game out there, All-Star games were a way for fans to see players they rarely, or never, got to see during the regular season. If you lived on the West Coast, getting to see a player on a team from in New York wasn't something that happened frequently. All-Star games were a chance to see how your local guys stacked up against the rest of the country.
Now? You can fire up the ol' computer and stream almost any game from anywhere in the world. If that fails, there are highlights later on that night and into the next day, and if that fails, there is Twitter and everything else on the internet to get back up to speed.
The days of a baseball fan living in Florida and not being able to watch Andrew McCutchen play are long over.
The Major League Baseball All-Star game is not perfect. It has definite flaws and is not at all what it used to be.
But of the four major sports, it is still the bestAll-Star Game.
The Pro Bowl is so bad that the NFL had serious discussions about canceling it. The NBA and NHL are slightly better, but still, the utter lack of defense played in those contests makes it difficult to watch for an extended period of time. The players just don't care enough to make the games exciting.
At the very least, the players in the MLB All-Star game are playing for something, because the league that wins the game gets home-field advantage in the World Series. Now, whether or not that makes sense is in the air, but at the bare minimum, at least the players have an incentive to play hard.
Still, there are some things holding back the All-Star Game. That's just the game itself, because the Home Run Derby is beyond saving at this point, and anybody who watches the celebrity softball game with any sort of intensity needs another hobby.
Here are three things to change about the All-Star Game:
1. Not every team needs to have an All-Star: This isn't youth soccer — not everyone needs to get a trophy. If a team is bad, they should not have a representative playing in a game that decides home-field advantage. Those roster spots should be taken by guys who could actually be affected by getting home-field advantage. That's not to say that players having a good year on a bad team shouldn't get to play — it just means that every team getting at least one All-Star is a practice that should have been thrown out in T-ball.
2. Relievers should start the game: Instead of using starting pitchers at the beginning of the game — using guys who work multiple innings at a time for just an inning or two — the game should use guys who are used to short stretches of work, relief pitchers, at the beginning of the game. That way, there would be no concern at the end of the game of relief pitchers having to go multiple innings. You could still have the traditional starting pitcher to open the game, but then the next 2-3 innings could be relief pitchers.
Plus, how great would it be to see Justin Verlander or Clayton Kershaw close out a game?
3. The managers should get to pick their own starting lineups: If Bud Selig and Major League Baseball claim this game is all about the competition and nothing else, then the starters shouldn't be chosen by fans. Fan interaction is important to the league, but Pablo Sandoval is clearly not having a better season than David Wright. Sandoval starts because he was voted in by the fans, even though Wright is hitting more than 40 points higher and has better numbers in every major statistical category. The competiveness of the game shouldn't be compromised for fan interaction.
The 2012 All Star Game is on Fox at 8 p.m. tonight.