In 2002, it was obvious that the MLB All-Star Game needed a change. After 11 innings of the baseballs best going at it both the American League and National League had gone through all their pitchers. Tied at seven, the game ended. Commissioner Bud Selig called the game and just as quick as he was to call the end of the game, he also made a monumental change in baseball by making it worth something. From 2003 forward the winner of the All-Star Game has home field advantage in the World Series.
Despite the fact that the game means so much two things hold the game back from ever truly showing which league is better, and in turn who should be awarded a distinct advantage in October.
The first key issue is that fan voting determines the starters. While the best players from each league is supposed to be representing them, fan voting easily leads to undeserving players being presented as the best. Only a small percentage of fans can say that a majority of their ballot isn’t just their favorite teams players. The fact that teams campaign for fans to “vote (insert team name here)” does not help the problem.
In the other three major sports, All-Star Games work because in a normal game a lot of players play. In any given NHL game 20 players are already playing, so having an All-Star roster filled with all the teams with no issue. It is similar in the NBA and NFL. In baseball this is not true. Nine players start, and often only ten to thirteen will touch the field. The way the MLB All-Star game is played is unnatural. A new second baseman comes in every three innings. This constant substitution is the second item holding back the All-Star Game from showing us which league’s best are truly the best.
When looking at this problem two solutions pop out.
Solution 1: Play Like a Real Game
In this answer to the problem managers pick their starters, and those players play out the game. Likely three to five pitchers would be used and only nine position players. This solution seems to best pick a league to have home field advantage in the World Series based on which league has the better players.
Solution 2: Get Rid of Playing for Home Field Advantage
This means that like other All-Star Games it means nothing, and you can vote your heart out for your favorite player without worrying that the league of your favorite team will lose because of an undeserving player being on the team and end up giving the opposing league an advantage come October.
In the end the All-Star Game is an event that is purely for fan entertainment, or at least it should be. Target Field will have fans from 30 teams on Tuesday. The idea of ostracizing fan bases just for some meaning is pointless. No other sport has the idea that it needs some other incentive than being selected as one of the best. If the MLB were smart they would realize that 2002 won’t repeat itself.
Just look at 2008. 15 innings and no tie. After the institution of the DH in all All-Star games running out of pitchers hasn’t been an issue.
The All-Star Game is an event that isn’t meant to be too serious. That is why its fun. Adding home field advantage was unnecessary and should be removed.