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For one night, baseball had fun – and it was great

Last offseason, Major League Baseball did one of the smartest things it’s ever done: Got rid of the “It Matters” nonsense at the MLB All-Star Game.

After a debacle in Milwaukee in 2002 in which the ASG ended in a tie, baseball decided to have the mid-summer classic determine home field advantage for the World Series. It was sports’ most absurd rule for 14 years. And now that it’s finally eliminated, the MLB All-Stars did a wonderful job of making sure it would never be seen again.

From Bryce Harper discussing Dak Prescott’s game with a mic in the outfield to Yadier Molina taking a photo at home plate of Nelson Cruz and home plate umpire Joe West, baseball finally had fun.

Imagine that.

It was the perfect follow up to a Home Run Derby that scored high TV ratings.

This is a sport that can be like a persnickety neighbor rather than a summer friend. It’s a sport so stuffy that a player’s technique setting down his bat after a home run can spark weeks of beanballs and suspensions. Where stealing a base when up by five runs can be seen as disrespectful (and again, be followed by beanballs) and where, before this year, the freaking All-Star Game was to be taken seriously.

And yet baseball kept wondering and wondering why young people no longer cared for the game like they did the NBA .” It must be the length of games! Let’s put in a time clock! Let’s get rid of intentional walks!”

Uh, hey, everyone, uh…maybe it’s because sports fans like personalities and MLB was pushing everyone to be Derek Jeter?

This generation’s young baseball players recognized this problem before baseball did. Superstar Bryce Harper once wore a hat with the words, “Make Baseball Fun Again,” printed in red letters. During the World Baseball Classic, the Puerto Rican team all bleached their hair – and then their home country ran out of bleaching kits because so many fans were getting on board. They poured out of the dugout with every home run.

The moments that this year’s All-Star players created this year in Miami will stick in the memories of people growing up as sports fans, the same as Randy Johnson’s fastball over the head of John Kruk or Barry Bonds lifting up Tori Hunter after the Twins’ outfielder robbed a home run.

Baseball fans who want the game to remain relevant (and be wholly more entertaining) should hope that the powers that be learned a valuable lesson on Tuesday night and apply it to the regular season going forward.

It turns out there’s no harm in letting players show off their personalities and joy for baseball at the All-Star Game – now how about the rest of the time, too?

  • Mike Link

    This is perfect. All we are doing is dwelling on sabremetrics, when the casual fan wants action. Yes speed up the game, but let the players give interviews that do not sound like they are under the influence of a strong sleeping pill. Let them choose their own shoes, let them celebrate, speed up the game and throw out the unwritten rules. Not sure how to repeal unwritten rules, but it needs to be done.

  • swede700

    The unwritten rules are “written” by baseball players, so you need to tell them to get rid of them, not us. As far as the speed of the game, there certainly does need to be a pitch clock, just like there is a shot clock in the NBA, as the pace of the game is far too slow. Expanding the strike zone would also help speed up the game. But, I do agree that the All-Star Game determining anything was stupid from the beginning.

  • linus

    “baseball decided to have the mid-summer classic determine home field advantage for the World Series. It was sports’ most absurd rule for 14 years” Could someone explain to me why this rule was so absurd? I’m not saying it was a particularly good idea either… I’m just not sure why it matters how home-field advantage is decided.

    • linus

      And I certainly wouldn’t say it’s more absurd than how some leagues make their overtime periods completely different from regulation. Like shoot-outs… might as well have NBA overtime decided by a game of Horse.

      • swede700

        The OT determinants are absurd, but not to the level of having an All-Star Game determine where the extra game is played in the World Series. Having players who aren’t even going to be involved in the World Series determine the advantage is akin to having the winner of a MLB-prescribed fantasy league determine where that game is played.

        It would be less absurd to have the one of the first 4 games of the World Series held at a neutral site, with the other 6 split between the cities of the 2 opponents.

        As far as the other OTs, I personally believe they should just go back to the 5-minute OTs in the NHL until a winner is determined, just as it always was before. And the NFL moving to a 10-minute OT is a disaster waiting to happen.

        • linus

          Short of playing game 7 at a neutral site (which would be terrible for the teams’ fans), there is no way to make a 7-game series fair. One team is always going to have an advantage. So if the outcome of the decision is doomed to be unfair, I can’t get all worked up about how the decision was made. Whether it’s determined by the outcome of the All Star game, regular seaon record, coin flip, or simply alternating years makes no difference to me.





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