Fixing the MLB All-Star Game

Fixing the MLB All-Star Game

The 2020 NBA All-Star Game was possibly the greatest All-Star game ever, regardless of sport. The first three quarters were okay, but the new format resulted in the fourth quarter being unquestionably the most exciting quarter of All-Star play ever. What did the NBA do to revive an event that was quickly going downhill?

In 2017, the NBA announced that it’s All-Star game would no longer be East vs. West. The teams would instead be chosen through playground-style draft, with the captains being the top two vote-getters. It gained the game some interest, added a television show, and created some tampering buzz in 2018 when LeBron was preparing to be a free agent. But it was still the same All-Star style of play: lots of fast breaks, lots of dunks, and not much defense. The players weren’t motivated. In 2018, with $100,000 dollars on the line, the final two minutes of the All-Star Game were intense and compelling. Little did we know that it was only a glimpse of what was to come.

The MLB All-Star Game was, like most things in baseball, originally the best of it’s kind. But, also like most things in baseball, it has been left in the dust of football and basketball, still stuck in it’s ancient, slow-to-change ways. So how can it be fixed?

Let’s start by looking at what is wrong with baseball’s All-Star game. First, it has become a home run fest recently. Like all of the All-Star games, the players aren’t that motivated to win, so they are just taking huge hacks.

Second, it’s a baseball game. People are bored by baseball. It takes too long, and it’s not fast-paced enough.

Third, baseball is having a player identity crisis. People don’t recognize specific players, and the All-Star Game would be a perfect opportunity for fans to see stars that they wouldn’t normally see. The problem is, players only stay in the game for a couple of innings until substitutions are made.

Now, let’s look at what has made other All-Star games better. The NBA has obviously implemented a draft and raised the stakes on the game. The NFL is still struggling with the Pro Bowl itself, but has found another source of competition with the skills challenges. Baseball could try either of these tactics, but the NFL model seems like a more sustainable choice.

Now this post lives up to it’s title: how to fix this All-Star game.

Step 1: get rid of the All-Star Game itself entirely.

Step 2: keep the Home Run Derby, Celebrity Softball Game, and Minor League All-Star Game where they are.

Step 3: fill the All-Star Game slot with events similar to the skills challenges of the NFL. I would suggest a “Five-Tool Competition”. We are always hearing about the top players having all five “tools”: hit for average, hit for power, strong arm, run fast, play good defense. Well, let’s take the top 5 “5-tool” players and have them compete in a throwing competition, a hitting competition, a race, and a defensive competition, which would probably be the hardest to come up with.

Or, if we want to get crazy, have a race where they have to hit a target hitting off a tee from home plate, run to left field, throw a ball into another target, run to right field, field a grounder, catch a fly ball, and run home.

Step 4: have a competition for pitchers, too. Set up a strike zone target, give them a spot, and give them one shot to hit it with a fastball. Next round, another spot with a change up. Then another spot with a curveball. Continue until there is one man standing.

Step 5: see if the ratings go up.

The NBA All-Star Game wasn’t the only thing that got attention last weekend. The Dunk Contest was a huge discussion point, as people argued about whether Aaron Gordon was robbed or not. People tuned in to watch the Skills Competition, the 3-point Competition, and the Dunk Contest; 5.1 million of them, making TNT the top network that night. 989,000 people watched the first NFL Skills Showdown.

The MLB All-Star Game needs something changed. It has lost it’s appeal to many, which is par for the course with anything baseball-related, and it needs something to get attention. If they can find a way to add stakes to an actual game, then they should do it. If they can’t, add more skills competitions. Or get the best of both worlds, and add stakes to the game AND add a skills competition.

Knowing the way baseball is currently run, it would probably take a few years to implement this, but better late than never.