Recently, Bud Selig made a couple changes to the All-Star Game that I feel are a joke. First and foremost is expanding the All-Star Game rosters (like the game hasn’t been slowed down enough with all the substitutions already being made now in an effort to get every player to make his appearance). That also cheapens the value of making the All-Star team. The second is having the DH rule every year, regardless of whether the host city/ballpark are in the American League or not. Uh, given that the All-Star Game determines home field advantage in the World Series*, and you’re a National League manager, you should be fuming that every single such game will now be played under the AL’s rules.
* (That’s another Selig tweak I was never fond of—home field should always go to the team with the better record, like in the NBA and NHL.)
I do believe changes need to be made. But the ones I have in mind are different. I mentioned them back in 2006, and I’ll reiterate them below:
First, and a number of baseball writers have said this, it's not necessary to have every single team represented at the All-Star Game because it leads to crummy players making the All-Star rosters while more deserving players are forced to miss out. Take Mark Redman of the Kansas City Royals in the 2006 All-Star Game. Any pitcher with an ERA over 5 (as Redman did that year) should not be allowed within 1,000 feet of the ballpark, much less be on an All-Star roster.
Second, and this one may be met with some disagreement (but just hear me out), is this: Being a top vote-getter in the All-Star balloting should guarantee that they will play at least 3 innings in the All-Star game, nothing more. The managers should be allowed more power in determining the starting lineup.
How do I back up my argument? Two simple words: Reggie Jackson. Some of you remember the early '80s, when Jackson was a perennial top vote-getter (indeed, one of the most popular players the game has ever seen). Trouble is, his defensive skills had eroded so severely that AL All-Star managers at that time cringed at the prospect of having to start him in right field.
One factor that favors my second little tweak is television. I'll bet that the majority of viewers will tune away from the All-Star Game by the time the 6th or 7th inning rolls around. Would they tune away so quickly if certain favorite players had just gotten into the game (or were still on the bench, waiting to enter)? I don't think they would. Going back to Reggie Jackson, it would have been more intriguing to see him come into the game in the 6th inning as a pinch-hitter for the pitcher (supposing for the moment that said game was being played in an NL park) than to see him butchering the NL team’s base hits in the bottom of the 1st.
In summation, the question driving the ballot shouldn't be "Who do you want to start in the All-Star Game," but just "Who do you want to SEE in the All-Star Game?"