All-Star Week Is Finally Behind Us

Today marks the be beginning of the second “half” of the baseball season. Things are looking good for my ballclub of choice, but that isn’t my focus today. I want to look back at some of the things from in and around the MLB All Star Game. Let’s start with the Futures Game. (Side note: While I watched the high school as well, but it is hard to really get too excited about young players who are not part of an organization, so it is hard to know of they will be pro ball or a college program in their near future). The guys in the Futures Game give us a glimpse of the next wave of talent. They could be the next season’s Rookie of The Year, or could part of a trade affecting this season’s playoff races. I got to see guys like Francisco Alvarez of the Mets and Elle de la Cruz of the Reds. Eury Perez of the Marlins was a pitcher to be excited about. Having said that, I would love for there to be a change to the format. I love to see the game as a 23 and under game, and be open to players on major league rosters. The reason I say this is simple. It will allow fans to see the young talent in the minors, but it will also allow for new stars such as Julio Rodriguez of the Mariners or even Juan Soto of the Nationals to play in the game. For example, Soto is younger than Ken Waldichuk of the Yankees, so this could highlight how special of a talent Soto is. Participants in my proposed 23 and under game should be allowed to play in the regular game if they are selected. Having some major leaguers in the game gives us more of a gauge of the talent level of the minor league players as well as it shows off some major league players fans may have never seen before. A fan in an American League city may not be familiar with the players from the National League. I experienced this scenario during the All Star game as the fan seated next to me was a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, so Shane McClanahan, the starting pitcher for the American League was a mystery to him. More Juan Soto or Julio Rodriguez on a national stage is better for the sport. Moving the game to Saturday night wouldn’t hurt either. I will freely admit the Home Run Derby is not my favorite. As far as I am concerned, it is elevated batting practice. I would make a few changes to this one. First of all, give me a pitching machine to have the pitches be more consistent. It seemed Juan Soto and the Mets’ Pete Alonso were struggling to get in a rhythm with their guys, whereas Julio Rodriguez had guy who understood the assignment and was feeding him balls with little wasted time or movement. Next, I give make it a bit like Top Golf by placing targets on the field and using a scoring system. While I would give homers the highest score with a bonus for added distance, the revised format could lead to a more diverse pool of participants. Make it a hitting competition, rather than one where it is just about home runs. If it must be just homers then I would let the scores carry over from round to round. If a guy has a killer round, say the 32 Julio Rodriguez hit in his first round, then make it where the guy in the second round has to pass his two round total. So Pete Alonso finished his first round with 20 (This is for illustration, I know he ended his round early), so if he were matched with Rodriguez in the second round then he would begin 12 homers behind. While it could lead to some anticlimactic finals, my idea would mean the guy who hits the most total homers wins the event. The big thing I would love to see in the All Star Game itself would be to follow the lead of the NBA and name two captains and allow them to pick team like it is the playground. Use the legends, in this case Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, and let them pick their teams from a pool of available players. There can’t be any hard feelings if Joe Mantiply of the Arizona Diamondbacks or Gregory Soto of the Detroit Tigers is the last pick. Fans would be given potential matchups between teammates. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani versus Mike Trout could be fun; Edwin Diaz attempting to close the game against Pete Alonso adds a layer if intrigue to the ninth inning. As MLB is transitioning to a schedule where all of the teams are playing each other, so league identification is less of a concern. The National League versus American League format has run it’s course as I see it. One last thing, I did like the draft being during the All Star Week. The only tweak I would make there is to ensure all of the Sunday games have finished before the draft begins. All in all, it was a worthy celebration of the sport. We have to remember this is an entertainment product, so the baseball establishment shouldn’t fall back on old formulas if they want to keep the game moving forward.

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