By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Bud Selig is the worst commissioner of a major sports league in my sports-cognizant lifetime. And, yes, I’m including Gary Bettman.
One of Bud’s bigger turds in the baseball punchbowl is All-Star Week. The baseball mid-season break is so painfully bad, and not just because fans get no real baseball for four days with no other major sports to watch—and it used to be just three days, by the way.
Mostly due to interleague play, All-Star Week is as tired and lame as George Lopez’s comedy only with slightly more entertaining Latinos. I would just as well get rid of it altogether, but since that won’t happen any time soon because baseball has some inflated ego issues when it comes to pointless tradition, it all needs some serious tinkering to get my interest and that of many fans back. Even Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt believes it all needs serious rehab.
It’s all on life support, and since Dr. Bud Riviera would rather do his own brand of half-assed cosmetic surgery on things, I guess it’s up to me to fix this mess. Let’s begin with the selection of rosters for the greatest exhibition game that counts for something in the postseason because the commish is borderline mental.
No more fans selecting the starters. Fans as a whole are incredibly irrational and incapable of accomplishing something so simple as choosing the best guy at each position in each league.
Instead, they vote for guys incapable of serving (Matt Kemp), players who aren’t deserving (Mike Napoli and Pablo Sandoval), or names from the past that are no longer relevant (Derek Jeter). Many fans are also ignorant, misguided, and awful people.
So the fans are basically the Tea Party. Can we at least keep such a mentality out of sports, Luke Scott’s delusions aside?
That of course is just the adult fans. Baseball is a kids game, but kids should not have an impact on such an important game, and with traditional voting, kids often vote for their favorite player regardless if he’s worthy. Kids need to learn at an early age that the democratic process is a cruel mistress and can be taken away when they abuse it.
And the game is important now, remember? Because if Bud wants the decision he made to have the game determine home field advantage in the World Series—the worst alteration to a sport in American history—to hold any shred of reasonability, those fans with dumb biases and refusal to acknowledge stats over names cannot be determining starters.
The game is no longer “for the fans” anymore anyway, no matter what trite the MLB PR machine tries to ladle out to fools that gobble that crap up. Bud destroyed the credibility of that argument when he tried to save his own wrinkled hide from the 2002 tie game debacle by “making the game matter.”
Also, the game is about money more than anything. One needed only to see all the sponsorship tie-ins and painfully annoying TV promotions Monday and Tuesday to understand that. Fans think they matter to executives any more than they can fork over dollars? That’s cute.
Fans can still have some say. Give them that final internet vote. That should let them think they played a major part in it all. Fans love voting on them new-fangled computers these days. They also get to factor into the innocuous game MVP voting anyway.
Let the players select the rosters otherwise. First of all, they know the best of the best and tend to be more objective than fans, managers, and even trollish writers.
But in the interest of spectacle and the almighty dollar, make it a fantasy draft. Bud can even select the captains so that he gets to pretend he has his hands in the process somehow.
Players get to have a competition within the competition, building their own best-of-the-best teams to vie against each other. It was a refreshing hit when the NHL first switched the selection format to this, and I think it would be even bigger in a more popular sport with a larger fantasy league following. Plus, MLB gets a whole new night of TV revenue.
Since Bud has added an extra day to the break anyway, this would work. Monday—draft. Tuesday—Home Run Derby. Wednesday—All-Star Game. Thursday—off day for all.
Captains make picks just like when they were on the playgrounds and sandlots as kids. Any healthy player from either league is fair game. Notice that “healthy” word. Prior to the draft, any player incapable of playing in the All-Star Game (or who secretly doesn’t want to play) lets the captains know beforehand, and their names will be omitted from eligibility. Now we’ve eliminated the stupidity of injured guys getting selected.
Also notice that I stipulated that any player from either league can be picked by either captain, similar to the NHL way. No more AL vs. NL. Again, due to interleague play, that allure is long gone.
You’re getting excited, aren’t you?
But how can home field advantage in the World Series be determined, Mr. Baffoe? Well, I guess it no longer can. And isn’t that fabulous?
So now the selection process is tighter and more entertaining, and the dumbest rule in sports has been dissolved. Progress, everybody.
Next up for tweaking—the Home Run Derby.
It has become, like the NBA’s Dunk Contest, passé. Oh, great, large baseball men hitting batting practice over the fence! Amazing!
What is novel about this anymore? Nothing. It’s loud noises and flashy colors for fools. So having home run specialists hitting home runs off of nonchallenging pitching has to go.
I’m very much in favor of the chaos of this minor league idea, but something tells me the wonks of MLB are a bit too stuffy for trampolines and serenades (unless it’s interrupting the game to pretend they care about patriotic songs).
So instead, I give you a hitting contest… using only pitchers. I mean, c’mon, let’s get weird here. There’s nothing impressive about Matt Kemp—who was capable of participating in the 2012 Derby but not the All-Star Game?—or Prince Fielder going yard off slow pitch.
Let’s get the non-hitting specialists to do it. People go nuts over home runs hit by pitchers in real games, don’t they?
Now, I understand teams having serious reservations about their Faberge eggs swinging with all their might and risking cracks, but NL pitchers take batting practice all the time (and the competition would be voluntary, of course). The participants would not need to be selections to the All-Star Game either, so the risk to “star” pitchers might not even factor in.
Even if the league won’t give in to letting pitchers participate, at the very least the format of homer after homer after homer all of equal value has to go. How about assigning different points for various hits?
Pull homers are worth 1, but center field gets you 2, and opposite field gets you 3. Maybe hitting the foul poll is worth 5. Make certain precise bulls-eye-like spots in the bleachers worth various more points. Turn this into the freak show of a Nike commercial MLB PR likes to pretend the Derby already is but very much is not.
Also, Chris Berman’s only involvement can be as a target. Hit Boomer, Win Steak… or a new car or something. Berman ruins everything behind the mic otherwise. I understand there is some demented faction of society that still appreciates him somehow—and those people should be placed in hard labor camps with his voice piped in 24/7—but normal, sane Americans cannot stand his loud rehashed jokes and geographical dumbassery.
Berman thinks he is the show, and that is only true in that he physically takes up a majority of space. People really, really hate him, and he’s out of my new Derby.
Ditto for prehistoric Charlie Kelly of broadcasting, Tim McCarver and his participation in the All-Star Game. Yes, MLB probably has little to no control over whom the networks choose to call the events, but I’m not forking over my pending patents on these ideas if McCarver is stumbling through my newly improved exhibition for three hours.
While there is a decent-sized group of rabble that loves Berman, I can’t say I’ve heard anyone outside of the always-creepy Cardinal Nation say they enjoy McCarver’s act. Yes, he’s a Ford Frick Award winner, but that can be chalked up to longevity more than any real contribution to entertainment.
McCarver said Tuesday night that the Braves and Mets play in the NL Central. He also mocks cancer patients. Time to send him out to finger painting pasture.
And no more sideline reporters. I don’t care if you want to see what Erin Andrews is wearing—she and her cohorts in the dugouts (get the hell out of the damn dugout, by the way) bring nothing to the table. I don’t care what clichés Derek Jeter has for this year. I don’t care what the human equivalent of crotch rot, Tony LaRussa, will opine about his final All-Star Game.
Also, never let what happened with the Melky Cabrera postgame interview with Matt Vasgersian happen again. It was uncomfortable and irresponsible, and it opened the door for a lot of idiots to spew ignorant—and more importantly unfunny—crap on social media about a guy like Cabrera who is otherwise known as a good guy who just so happens to not have a great command over English. And I know Vasgersian is an otherwise solid broadcaster and not a sideline guy for the most part, but see how sideline reporters ruin things?
Want to fill those voids that aren’t really voids? Online fan interaction, specifically Twitter.
Twitter has oftentimes become more interesting than the sporting events people are commenting on. Start pulling the best/funniest tweets (and I guess Facebook posts) and run them on screen at various points in the game. Guys like the Deadspin Commentariat, bloggers like the Kissing Suzy Kolber folks, me, etc. deserve that stage to show their brilliant humor to a TV audience. Go ahead and omit anything profane, of course, but let in the funny. Absurd should beget absurd, and all the All-Star stuff is certainly that.
So there. I’ve fixed everything for you, just like I do on Fridays in my mailbag that you should be sending questions to for me to solve (email@example.com or @Ten_Foot_Midget).
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don’t follow him in real life. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.