Jul 17 2012

Quick Rant: The MLB All-Star Game

I know what I’m typing here isn’t revolutionary, and since the All-Star Game was last week, it’s more than a little past due in Internet terms. But it’s on my mind and I’ve got nothing better to blog about today, unless you guys want to hear the new Green Day song. Here you go. It’s awesome. Listen while you read. It’ll be all over the radio in 24 hours, if it isn’t already.

So anyway, we all know the Pro Bowl sucks. We hate it. It’s pointless, nobody’s playing hard, nobody cares, it means nothing, it’s a dumb exhibition game.

Well, the MLB All-Star Game is dumber. A lot dumber.

Why? Because ten years ago, MLB decided to incentivize the game. You know, to make the ratings go up, to make the players play harder, etc. To make it more than just a dumb game. “It’s not a break!” went the commercials I kept seeing everyday leading up to it this year.

And it’s been working on the ratings front. This year’s ASG was the most watched program of the week, with over 10 million viewers.

So what’s the incentive? Money? Some sponsored gift, akin to the Super Bowl MVP getting a car, but maybe not as nice? Maybe something dealing with the draft? Nope. It’s HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE for the World Series.

That’s right. A game with several players, voted in by the fans (perhaps undeservingly), who the vast majority won’t be in the World Series, some not even close to the postseason, decide the fate of the two final teams standing in October. In the past 9 years, the league that’s won the All-Star game and earned home field advantage has won the big game 6 times.

So that means my beloved Rangers, who have a pretty great shot at going to the World Series for the third straight year, also have a great shot at losing it for the third straight year and essentially becoming the modern-day Buffalo Bills of baseball. Every team is represented at the ASG, not the best of the best, and you can’t tell me these guys are actually out there, playing with good acquaintances and former teammates, and taking the game seriously. It likely never crosses their mind that potential Game 7 doom rests on the outcome of what they perceive as a more casual affair than the game-every-day grind they’re used to. “Not a break”? Give ME a break.

I know what you all are thinking: “Dude, your team had 8 people on the ASG this year. The AL lost 8-0. It’s on you guys more than anybody.” Well, ok, no, it’s on Verlander, who is an amazing pitcher overall, primarily for that game-deciding 1st inning. Harrison played awful, too. And for the record, my opinion is that Napoli, who has been dismal this season, and Darvish, who was up against far better players in the final vote, shouldn’t have even been there, among many, many other players. Do I think all the Rangers are the best players in the MLB? Of course not. Am I loyal and proud of my team? Absolutely. So yeah, I did the whole #VoteYu thing; he didn’t even play, so whatever. I mean, they’re letting us vote, which is stupid, so why not, right? Vote for your team. Duh.

I’m digressing a bit because I’m in soapbox mode, but what I’m trying to say overall is: either make the game best of the best and have it mean something important, or let fans vote in whoever and bring in undeserving reps from every team and have it mean little to nothing. You can’t have it both ways, MLB. The Royals didn’t deserve to have a spot this year, and everyone knows it. Who cares if it’s in Kansas City? If the fans don’t like it, maybe they should blame management.

My vote? Make it a dumb exhibition game, with every team represented, give them a middling incentive, make it fun. Make it meaningless. Make it a break. Make it the Pro Bowl. The ratings battle has ruined this game, and ultimately it may have ruined my World Series. So, sure, let the fans vote in the highly-paid rookie who’s nailing the strike zone decidedly less than the vets, but crowds love him. Let some rep for a well-under-.500 team have his two or three at-bats and come up short in all of them. That way, when the game everyone cares about comes around in October, we won’t already have a pretty good idea of the outcome.  We can enjoy the second half without the beginning of July looming over us.  We can watch the team with the best record garner home field advantage.  And I would be cool with that.

Because that team would be the Rangers.