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With 2017 All-Star Game in Miami, Baltimore's conspiracy theories need re-examining

Baseball commissioner Robert Manfred at a news conference announcing that the 2017 All-Star Game will be held in Miami.
Baseball commissioner Robert Manfred at a news conference announcing that the 2017 All-Star Game will be held in Miami. (J Pat Carter / Associated Press)

Major League Baseball announced Friday that the 2017 All-Star Game will be held in Miami. Last month, it announced that the 2016 All-Star Game will be held in San Diego. This year's will be in Cincinnati.

That's three straight National League hosts, the first time in the exhibition game's history, dating to 1933, that one league has been skipped three straight years.

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Heading into 2015, back-to-back All-Star games held in cities in the same league had happened twice: in 1950 and 1951, to best fit with a city celebration in Detroit, and in 2006 and 2007, so that Yankee Stadium could hold the event in its last season, in 2008.

That's it, folks. Never three in a row, and rarely two in a row.

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So why will it be different in the next three seasons?

MLB says the All-Star Games have gone to the many new and deserving parks in the NL; only one park in the American League never has been host, Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., which is not exactly a place you want to showcase.

That is supposed to be the only reason, according to MLB.

And before we get into conspiracy theories, Toronto and Oakland have gone longer without hosting an All-Star Game than Baltimore. Oakland's stadium situation is still a mess, but Rogers Centre is a solid place and Toronto is a wonderful city. The city is deserving of its first midsummer classic since 1991.

OK, now to the snub of Camden Yards, which hasn't hosted since 1993, the year after it opened. It is widely considered one of the best ballparks in baseball and a trendsetter for all of the retro, downtown parks that followed. It also hosts a resurgent team that has a re-energized fan base.

So I'm not buying what MLB is selling: the idea that the Orioles' legal entanglement over Mid-Atlantic Sports Network TV-rights fees with the Washington Nationals and MLB is not at least a contributing factor to their wait to host the All-Star Game again. That just doesn't ring completely true to me.

To be clear, getting the All-Star Game is more about civic pride than extra cash flow. So it's not as if the commissioner's office would hold the All-Star Game hostage until Orioles managing partner Peter G. Angelos and his family drop their lawsuit. It doesn't have that kind of juice, not when millions are at stake annually in the MASN dispute.

But the All-Star Game is perceived as a reward to a city and franchise. And it's not a stretch to say that MLB will not be doing the Orioles any favors until the MASN situation is resolved.

What will be most interesting is what happens for 2018 and 2019. Washington deserves an All-Star Game, too, but if it gets one, will that keep Baltimore from landing one the following (or preceding) year? Normally, venues so close don't receive consideration in consecuctive years.

New baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said recently that he is OK with that scenario, since he views Washington and Baltimore as different markets.

Of course, outgoing commissioner Bud Selig said the same thing a few months ago, when he also said he wanted to keep the All-Star Game alternating between AL and NL cities.

That won't happen for the next three seasons, although the AL in 2016 will bat last, even with the game played in an NL park. That's supposed to prove the MLB is being fair.

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I'm not sure that "fairness" resonates throughout the entire country, though.

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