The calendar has yet again reached what baseball considers the halfway point to the season, the MLB All-star game. Over the years the game can come to mean various things to different people.
In the past, it was a chance for young and old to watch their favorite players to coalesce on a single field. Not so many years ago, it was almost the only way to watch your favorite player who didn’t play in your local market. But, now with cable television, big contracts to bring MLB to ESPN, Fox sports and the other mass media anyone can pretty much watch any game they wish to follow their favorite player.
MLB introduced MLB.tv online 14 years go to enable fans to watch out of market games on their PC, X-Box, tablets and even phones. No longer do fans need to wait for a team to play their local team or have to travel to watch them.
As great as the show is, the MLB All-star game has lost its luster over the year. Yes, it is still fun to watch the mixture of players from various clubs come together to take front and center stage to pause for a moment to celebrate the great game of baseball.
But, today’s version doesn’t have the same meaning it did prior to the 90’s and possible the 80’s. Television ratings for the big game have also dropped off significantly since the 80’s.
A look at Baseball Almanac shows it has taken a steady decline since the 80’s. MLB commissioner Bud Selig tried to spice it up some after the deflating effect the tie had in 2002 by putting an incentive for the winning league to have home field advantage in the World Series.
Baseball Almanac – Ratings by households
While that was welcomed as a good change when it was first implemented, many now see it as the biggest mistake he’s made as commissioner. Even with that change the All-star game barely outperforms the NFL Pro Bowl game, which is almost the worst thing to watch on television.
Now I’m not advocating that that MLB should do away with the All-star game, but that they should do something to bring back the excitement to the game. One thing that’s floating around is the idea that the All-star game should be an exhibition game against the Japanese baseball league All-stars.
That idea would take care of a few problems with the All-star game in its current format. First, it would get rid of the silly concept to award home field advantage to the winner and it would bring in all-star players that most people never get to see.
That would take the all-star game back to its core meaning and intent. Which should be to celebrate the game, show case the finest players in the league and most important, to make it a special event filled with everything you can only see on that given day.
Imagine seeing a young Yu Darvish who is just rising up in the Japan baseball league taking on players like Albert Pujos, Miguel Cabrera and other power hitters and making them look like fools swinging away at a 64 MPH pitch.
Plays like that would shock American fans and incite water cooler talks for weeks. Or other amazing players such as Ichiro Suzuki making his amazing dives in outfield.
If the MLB All-Star game is going to keep pace with the needs of the American sports fans, something will have to chance. The television numbers don’t lie, people are tied of the same old All-star game.
At least for Texas Rangers fans Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre will be there to have a chance to win their first game since July 5. But, for them it won’t have the same meaning until they can get a win as a team with their fellow teammates.
Tonight’s game is being nationally shown on Fox starting at 7:30 pm ET.