We want the All-Star Game to matter, but many of the best players in the game don't show up for various reasons..
We want our league to win, but fans want to see the players from the teams they root for play in the game, so there are plenty of substitutions and scheduled appearances.
I'm looking at the box score from the 1985 All-Star Game at the Dome. LaMarr Hoyt started for the N.L. and pitched three innings. Nolan Ryan relieved and went three innings. Joaquin Andujar, Ron Darling, Scott Garrelts, Dwight Gooden and Jeff Reardon did not pitch for the N.L. How would that go over today, by the way?
I covered the 2002 All-Star Game in Milwaukee that ended in a tie because the teams ran out of pitchers. The next year, MLB dangled home field advantage in the World Series to the winning league as a carrot. Players also were asked to hang around instead of leaving the park after they were removed from the game!
Did that really work?
The Arizona Republic reported today that 16 players pulled out of this year's game for various reasons. Derek Jeter apparently is too pooped to participate. The Cubs' Aramis Ramirez was asked to replace a player on the roster, but declined because he had made plans with his family. Wow. With the money he's making he can change his plans.
As much as the league tries, it can NOT make this game mean any more than it does. Players are going to pull out if they need to heal up for the rest of their seasons. I don't see how the league can get around that.
But the league can tweak a couple things. My suggestion would be a four-day All-Star break, so even the players who participate in the game can get an extra day off.
And, after listening to Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt this morning on ESPN2, I think the game should be moved to Wednesday. Pitchers who start on Sunday could be available for an inning, so the Justin Verlanders of the baseball world can take part in the game.
Move the Futures Game to Monday (why are they playing this game WHILE MLB games are being played on Sunday?) Move the Home Run Derby to Tuesday and play the All-Star Game on Wednesday. Take Thursday off and resume the regular season on Friday.
Tonight, the 82nd All-Star Game will take place at Chase Field, and the field will be full of impressive talent.
But it's too bad we've spent so much time discussing who's not here.