The 83rd All Star game from Kauffman Stadium has now come and gone. It was the third Midsummer Classic in Kansas City, a proud baseball city who played host very well. Hometown slugger Billy Butler, and soon to be retiring Chipper Jones received the biggest pregame ovations – while Robinson Cano was booed all evening, in result of not selecting Butler as a participant in the Home Run Derby. Though the whole week was enjoyable, has the game really changed into a meaningful event?
It has been 10 years since commissioner Bud Selig made the All Star game the deciding factor for which league earns home field advantage in that years World Series. This move was made following the 2002 All Star game, which ended in a tie. Selig needed a way to revitalize the game and get fans to tune back in, so “making it count” was the conclusion he came to. This is significant due to the fact that the home team has won the last eight World Series game 7’s. For this “exhibition” that now means so much, there are many things that prove this game should not count for something so important.
(La Russa and I)
First off, if it were a real game that mattered, National League manager Tony La Russa would not have his pitching order predetermined before the game started. La Russa had pitchers scheduled to pitch certain innings, but in a real game the starter would go as long as hes effective and relievers would be in based on the situation and match up.
Secondly, MLB forces a representative from each team to be an All Star. This means that a team without an All Star caliber player would still be represented by someone, thus taking a spot of a deserving All Star. Also, players on teams that have no shot at making the postseason are playing in a game that affects a good teams World Series. Do you want some scrub players deciding where your team plays its World Series games, especially if they had the best record and earned it themselves?
(Verlander and I)
Lastly, here are some quotes from American League starting pitcher Justin Verlander. Last seasons MVP and Cy Young award winner gave up five runs in the first inning. After the game he said the following…
– “Obviously you don’t want to go out like that, but hey, I had fun. That’s why I don’t try to throw 100 [mph] in the first inning. Doesn’t usually work out too well for me.”
– “Obviously I don’t want to give up runs. I know it means something. But we’re here for the fans. I know the fans don’t want to see me throw 90 and try to hit the corners. So, just let it heat. Have fun.”
– “I was able to laugh about it right away,” Verlander said afterwards. “Hey, I had fun.”
Verlander was trying to throw hard in the first inning to impress the fans, something he wouldn’t do if it were a normal game. Players go out of their normal routine to put on a show for the fans and make the game entertaining, this isn’t how a game that matters should be played. Good thing you had fun out there Justin, laughing off a performance that may cost your team home field advantage in the World Series.