This year’s All Star game has great players like Joey Bats, Prince Fielder, and Adrian Gonzalez. Yet, if the game comes down to a final at-bat in the 9th (or maybe the 10th!) inning, that big game winning drive will have to be hit by Matt Joyce or Gabby Sanchez or Matt Weiters. Unlike the final minutes of a close NBA All-Star game, where fans get to see Lebron James battle Kobe Bryant for conference bragging rights, MLB All Star battles are decided by backup all stars. For, sadly, there is no re-entry. Once a player is substituted out, he’s gone.
Now, no, I’m not suggesting baseball change its rules and have open substitution like basketball. It would look ridiculous if David Ortiz had a pinchrunner every time he got on base or weak hitting super star fielders like Rey Ordóñez* had a pinch hitter, hell, a practical DH, every time up their turn came to bat. Major League Baseball isn’t Little League. All players don’t need to play in every game or get a free freeze pop from the concession stand. But you know what is like Little League? Yes, the All Star game!
*Yes, I know Rey Ordóñez has been out of the league for a long ass time. But, so what? Do you want me to do research and come up with another good glove/no hit infielder?
The All Star game is a little league game. Every player (or almost every player) should play. It’s a fun exhibition for the fans. An easy way to both get most players in and try to win at the end is to adopt the high school starter reinsertion rule for all star games only. It’s simple. If a starter at any position is substituted out, he can be reinserted for the player who went in for him or for the player who replaced his replacement. So let’s say Prince Fielder gets pulled in the 4th inning to make room for Joey Votto. Then Joey Votto, after an at-bat, makes way for Florida’s token all star Gabby Sanchez. And then, alas, the game is tied in the 9th, and Sanchez is coming to the plate in a game deciding moment. With the reinsertion rule, Prince Fielder can go back in and bat with the game on the line.
This rule is a win/win for everybody. It’s great for those all star reserves who otherwise might not get in the game anyway. The rosters are up to like 33 players.* There’s no room to get that many guys in. But with the re-insertion rule, the National League can use, say, Starlin Castro as a pinch runner. He gets in the game, but a better player can go back in and bat in an important situation.
*Again, I could do a Google search and check to see for sure, but that would require 15 seconds of my time.
Now that I’ve fixed the game, it’s time to fix All Star Monday. The Home Run Derby is okay, if not a little stretched out. But you know what would make it more exciting and fun? Metal bats! Yes. The sweet ping of a baseball we all grew up with. For real! There’s not a former baseball player under 40 who didn’t use metal bats growing up. No, I don’t want aluminum in real games. Pitchers would die. But aluminum in a home run derby would be awesome. I was a Division II college pitcher and even I could hit the ball out with an aluminum bat. Imagine the 600 foot homers from Justin Upton and Josh Hamilton. Just make sure every fan in the outfield bleachers is wearing a glove (and a mask).
And, finally, the All Star game needs more events. The NBA has a dunk contest, 3-point shooting, and a skills competition. I want to see a baserunning race. I want to see speedsters like Jose Reyes (if he wasn’t injured) and Brett Gardner race around the bases in 12 seconds. I want to see an outfield throwing competition. Bring in Jeff Francoeur and Ichiro and see if they can throw a baseball over the center field fence from home plate.