The All-Star Game is supposed to be the time for Major League Baseball's best to shine.
Unfortunately, while the game is usually pretty good, the four-day stoppage in the pennant race does more to pour cold water on the game than it does to create excitement.
Commissioner Bud Selig has tried give the Midsummer classic a makeover in recent years by changing the rules to give the league whose team wins the game home field advantage in the World Series. But it's not enough. If anyone believes the player from the Chicago Cubs who is only on the roster because the rules say every team must be represented is going to play harder because there's a one in a million chance his team could qualify for the playoffs, they're out of their mind.
Meanwhile, it stinks that fans have to spend three nights without baseball to facilitate one still relatively meaningless exhibition game.
First, there is no reason at all for a four-day break. Even with travel considerations, three days ought to be plenty of time off in the jet age.
Second, if there was even a smidgen of promotional sense in the minds of owners, they would come up with ideas to fill the dead time instead of letting people drift away from their teams and the game as a whole at the height of the summer.
With all of the interest these days in scouting and development, couldn't major league teams co-ordinate the minor leagues' all-star games with the break?
Currently there is a "Futures Game" that takes place during the break. But it's not shown in prime time and it's not really part of the break. It was played Sunday afternoon while MLB teams were still wrapping up their games.
Maybe the Class A league players could have their all-star game the day before the major league players did and the Class AA and Class AAA all-stars could play theirs the day after.
The lower level game would give fans a chance to see their teams' draft picks from the previous season. The higher level game would let them check out players who are more polished and potentially in line for the majors by next season.
It would give informed fans a chance to see players in action that they only hear about in brief bursts online or in magazines. And it would give casual fans an easy way to catch a glimpse into the future of their favorite teams.
There are all sorts of activities surrounding the actual All-Star Game in the host city. But baseball does virtually nothing to televise or promote those events.
The only thing MLB puts on in conjunction with the game is the home run derby. Despite a revamping of the format, the home run derby is played out.
You can fool the fans for a while. But, when you get down to it, a coach lobbing 45-mph straight pitches over the plate so the best sluggers in the game can hit easy home runs isn't a game. It's batting practice.
Better yet, baseball ought to go back to holding the All-Star Game at the end of the season. Then, instead of shutting things down in the middle of the pennant races, the best players in the game can get together and play a game like they mean it the first weekend after the World Series.
If that happened, the game would be an extra treat for fans. Instead of the frustration of boring summer days without the staple that is baseball, there would be a bonus game. An exclamation point at the end of an exciting season.
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