Admittedly, the MLB All-Star Game is notably better than it's NBA and NFL counterparts. However, just because the it's best available, does not mean it cannot be improved upon. More often than not, we're left with something resembling the best players in the game getting together for an exhibition. But the current climate of the game has left many fans with a sour taste in their mouth when it comes to the Mid-Summer Classic. So how can we improve this game so that it fits the desires of fans and brings about the best competition? First, we have to start with what issues the game is plagued with.
1. Fans, especially in the American League are subject to an onslaught of undeserving Yankees and Red Sox in the All-Star Game. In 2012, every starter for the AL team played for either the Red Sox, Yank, Rangers or Tigers with the exception of Jose Bautista. How could anyone justify starting a .248 hitting Curtis Granderson over the likes of Mike Trout or Adam Jones? How could anyone justify starting a defensively deficient, .228 hitting Mike Napoli at catcher above Joe Mauer or Matt Wieters? This is the result of fan voting. While it serves it's purpose as a way of getting fans involved in the game, more than anything it has alienated smaller fan bases out West and has prevented the best players from participating. The best way to fix this is to simply take the best statistical players and start them. This does not have to be an argument between old school vs new school, even though it inevitably would turn into one (remember the nightmare last fall between Triple Crown Winner Miguel Cabrera and best player in the game Mike Trout?) MLB would simply need to come to one common way of evaluating players statistically and start those players.
2. Revamp the Home Run Derby. Every year, I'm excited to watch this game, in fact, I'm giddy over it. Then it turns into a 2.5 hour marathon of hearing Chris Berman incessantly chant "Back back back back back". The derby has it's moments though, like watching Josh Hamilton in Yankee Stadium or the ridiculous roof shot Mark Trumbo hit in Kansas City last season. We could improve this event by allowing participants to use metal bats. It may scare away some players because of the bat weight difference, but it would also result in 600 foot homeruns, the like we've never seen before. We could also turn this into an international affair. Instead of American League versus National League, why not allow countries to field two participants each? That almost always brings out the best, especially among the Latin American countries. Also, if there's a way to speed up the derby by perhaps placing time limits or making players swing at pitches, we could cut the run-time in half.
3. Limit the amount of participants from each team to three. If MLB truly wants this to be a game for the fans, they'd make it so that it isn't just a game for Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees fans. Reality is, there are more fans that dislike these teams than actually like these teams, which drives the amount of viewers down.
4. Allow the managers to select the starting lineup. With the current format, we saw the AL team in 2012 be a collection of homerun hitters that weren't known for the defensive abilities and couldn't manufacture a run to save their life. Hitting a homerun is only one of many way to succeed at this game. Any MLB manager looking to win this game would likely select contact hitting, speedy middle infielders or outfielder to bat leadoff and set the table for the herculean middle of the order hitters.
5. Remove starting pitchers from the game. This is the biggest worry about every team, that their starting pitcher will come into the game and get hurt and the team will be doomed down the stretch. It's a legitimate concern too. However, there are a plethora of relievers in each league that could come in and give a routine one-inning appearance. The chances of injury would be less and even if an injury did somehow occur, it likely wouldn't take an ace away from his team in the second half.
6. Make the game not count or count for something other than homefield advantage. These changes that you've read have been operating under the premise that this is a meaningful game. Frankly, this game dictating home field advantage in the World Series is one of the less intelligent decisions Bud Selig has made. Perhaps we could make this game mean something, but not home field advantage. Perhaps allow the victor dictate whether or not the game takes place in an American League location or a National League location the following season. Or in a lesser sense, make it about money. Players on the winning team could all receive sizable bonuses while the losers get nothing. This game can still mean something, even if it isn't homefield advantage.