Forget Yasiel Puig and just make the All-Star Game a game

27 Comments

Upwards of 80 major leaguers will again call themselves All-Stars this year. 34-man rosters mean than a ridiculous 68 players will be eligible for the game. Another eight, 10, 12 or maybe more will be ruled out for the game because of injuries or because they were starting pitchers that pitched the Sunday before the game. In 2011, there were actually 84 All-Stars.

And that’s ridiculous. Unless we’re going 15 innings, it takes no more than 42 players to play a major league baseball game (two 25-man rosters, minus the eight starting pitchers going unused on any given day).

The draw of the All-Star Game is to see the best players face off against one another. Ideally, that’d happen for nine innings. Instead, it happens for four or five before the backups start taking over.

That’s what I’d like to see change. First, the All-Star Game needs to be pushed back to Wednesday, a simple move that brings any Sunday starters back into the contest. The Home Run Derby can be Tuesday instead. And, ideally, this would give the Futures Game its own day on Monday, instead of being played on Sunday while the major league action is still going on. The Futures Game, showcasing many of baseball’s very best prospects, is typically far more entertaining than the Derby, but it’s seen by only a handful while airing opposite major league games.

Second, just slash the rosters all to hell. I’d go 13 hitters and nine pitchers. Or we can do 25 if we have to, in case we do go beyond 10 innings. But let’s only invite the best of the best. Let’s have Miguel Cabrera facing Craig Kimbrel in the ninth. Last year, Elvis Andrus, Billy Butler and Matt Wieters made the final three outs of the game, facing three different National League pitchers. How incredibly lame is that?

Also, please spare me the argument that including the hot-shot young prospect makes the game more interesting. No one is tuning into the All-Star Game just so that Yasiel Puig can get a single at-bat 2 1/2 hours into the contest. It’s not 1985 anymore. Anyone curious about Puig can get their fill of highlights on demand.

I say we pencil in three starting pitchers for the first six innings and three relievers from there, with another three guys serving as mid-inning replacements if needed. Free up the managers to keep the position players in for nine innings and only make changes when warranted. Stop the silly “everyone has to play” ideal. It lessens the game. With 22-man rosters, it’ll be more of an honor just to be invited, whether the player is going to get that one seventh-inning at-bat or not.

Of course, this change also necessitates the ditching of the “every team gets a rep” rule. And to that I’d say good riddance.

I don’t believe any of this is going to happen. But it seems to me that the league (and FOX) seems more interested in getting people to tune into the All-Star Game for a spell rather than actually watch it from beginning to end. There’s a more compelling game to be had here if the league would trim the fat.

Manny Machado to face another team that doesn’t like him very much

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Brewers fans booed the living heck out of Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado during the NLCS. They had reason to, of course, as Machado turned in a couple of pretty dirty plays. To Machado’s credit, he embraced the role of heel pretty well by grabbing his crotch in the crowd’s general direction in Game 7. I can’t say I want my kid doing that, but (a) Machado is not my kid; and (b) If you’re gonna be the bad guy anyway, you may as well own it, so thank you Manny. You provided us with some entertainment.

You might think that the ill-will toward Machado is over now, but that may not be the case. Because if you remember back to April and May of last year, there was a good bit of it between Machado and the Red Sox.

In a series between the Orioles and the Red Sox in late April 2017, Machado slid hard into Dustin Pedroia, injuring him. Despite the fact that Machado seemed genuinely concerned about Pedroia, suggesting no ill-intent — and despite the fact that Pedroia seemed OK with the play — Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes threw at Machado’s head later in the series in retaliation, earning a suspension.

Fast forward a week, when the teams met again, and Chris Sale — the World Series Game 1 starter — threw behind Machado, resulting in a warning being issued. Machado would later homer in the game, which one thinks would help bring some resolution to all of that, but after the game was over Sale’s pitch was still sticking in his craw.

As was the F-word. A lot of F-words were in Machado’s craw too:

That ended up being the end of all of that, but one wonders if Machado still harbors some ill will. Or if Barnes does. Or if Sale does. My guess is that even if they do harbor some ill will, or if Machado harbors ill will toward them, everyone will keep a lid on it because this is the freakin’ World Series and no one wants to hurt their team over a more than year-old beef.

But I bet the Fenway Faithful let Machado hear it. Keep a camera on Machado, Fox.