Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Midsummer Night's Nightmare

Welcome to the Route 30 Detour! US Route 30 intersects at I-95 in Philadelphia and goes from coast to coast, including passing through Pittsburgh and the home of Drexel University SMT student and blog contributor, Bryan Fyalkowski (@fyalkowski)...

Three weeks from today, an exhibition game between two teams (that are not actual teams) will decide who gets home-field advantage in the World Series. Obviously, I am talking about the 83rd MLB All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. This will be the tenth time that the Midsummer Classic will decide home-field advantage in the World Series, a rule that was instituted after the 2002 All-Star Game tie/debacle in Milwaukee right under the nose of MLB Commissioner Bus Selig.

And what a big nose it is.

Since the rule's institution in 2003, the team with the worse record has been appointed home-field advantage in the World Series, via the All-Star Game, in just two of the nine seasons. However, in both of those instances (Boston Red Sox in 2004 and St. Louis Cardinals in 2011) the teams won the World Series. There are obvious benefits, seeing that in the past nine years, the team with home-field advantage in the World Series is 6-3.

If the MLB is to keep this ridiculous rule, there must be changes made to the current format.

Listen up, PAL!

With the emergence of social media, especially Twitter, the MLB wants to integrate its Midsummer Classic as much as possible. During last year's State Farm Home Run Derby, players who tweeted during the event had a 17% increase in Twitter followers by the next day. On June 5, the MLB announced that players who are not involved with, or have already been removed from, the game will be able to tweet from computer stations within the clubhouse.

This news was exciting for a lot of people, but for many it was very head-scratching. While the MLB promotes the All-Star game as a vital part of the season, it allows players to tweet during the game, has appointed a retiree to manage the game and still allows fans to vote for the players involved. These are all things that make the All-Star game seem more like a "go out and have fun" game rather than a "this is serious stuff" game.

Come on...

Today I saw a tweet from @MLB_PR that Rafael Furcal has overtaken Troy Tulowitzki for NL All-Star voting at shortstop. That makes sense because Furcal is having a solid season, while Tulowitzki has been injured (as usual) for the past two months. However, if the Rockies shortstop were to get healthy before July 10, would it not give the NL a better chance to win the game and claim home-field advantage for its World Series representative?

And lose to the Red Sox anyway.

As it stands now, the fans vote for the starters in the field, including designated hitter (which is one of the stupidest rules in baseball, will save for another day). Then, the MLB players of each league vote for the backups at each position and eight pitchers. And to round out the 34-man rosters, the managers and their coaches choose the rest of the players as they see fit, including the starting pitcher.

In order to fix the All-Star game and remove the cloud of confusion about its purpose, the MLB must make up its mind. Should it be purely an exhibition game or be involved in possibly deciding the champion of the entire league?

Honestly, the tweeting thing does not bother me nearly as much as much as the fan voting and newly-retired Tony La Russa managing the NL squad. Tweeting does not affect the performance on the field and even though there is the argument that the players must focus, they are not in the game at that point, so it does not seem like it could cause much of an issue.

Well it worked alright in the NFL.

But for 1/3 of the game to be played by the players who won a popularity contest seems a bit odd. Before home-field advantage was given to the winning league, it made sense because the fans got to see their favorite players in the All-Star Game. But now, it should not matter who the fans want to see, but to have the players on the roster who give the team the best chance to win. Period.

What are your thoughts about the MLB All-Star Game? What changes to the Midsummer Classic, if any, would you like to see?

 If so, let this guy know about it.

Enjoy your trip back to I-95 and I'll see you next week!

1 comment:

  1. This was a topic in last week's #smsportschat, and I seemed to be in the minority with my opinion. I don't think players should be allowed to tweet during the game, removed from it or not. If MLB baseball wants to brand the ASG as serious competition, then keep social media until the end. Players aren't allowed to tweet in the regular season or even spring training games or the playoffs, so why now. I understand the want to be social and engage with fans but their are other ways to do that without a conflicting philosophy.