Tag Archives: All-Star Game

How to Make the All-Star Game More Interesting

The pool might had as much coverage as the actual game...

I just got done reading a fellow bloggers post (Chris Ross) on why the All-Star game is boring, and doesn’t need to be meaningful to be relevant. Seeing how I doubt the A’s will be in the World Series anytime soon I don’t really care that home field advantage is a result from the game, but do agree with most everyone that it’s ridiculous to have the outcome effect the World Series. Exhibition does not equal “meaning something” last time I checked, but who are we kidding, we want to be entertained regardless of the stakes.

The ASG has been on the decline for years now (based on the ratings the last few years), and with numerous players dropping out for whatever reason, we don’t usually even have the real “stars” of the game out there playing. I read the other day that over 10% of the league made an All-Star team for a second straight year. How ridiculous is that? I understand pitchers ducking out from pitching too recently, and other guys actually ON the DL, but guys like Jeter being “emotionally tired” is stupid reason to miss the mid-summer classic. I hope he donated the money he got for getting selected, because he doesn’t deserve that bonus. Maybe he knew deep down he didn’t deserve to be the starter and wanted Asdrubal to start in his place since he was clearly better this year. Either way he should’ve at least shown up.

Anyways, this wasn’t supposed to be a bash the guys who are in the game post. It was supposed to be a little constructive, so here’s three easy ways I think that the MLB could fix the All-Star game aka make it more competitive and entertaining for us baseball fans…

  • This first move would automatically make me like the actual game more. Have the players that the people voted into it, finish the games. Maybe that won’t work with pitchers, but for the hitters this is an easy way to change the structure on how it’s managed. I want to see the best players decide the game in the clutch. I don’t care about seeing players like Miguel Montero, Matt Wieters, Howie Kendrick, Scott Rolen, etc. coming up when it matters in the late innings. I want to see the starting lineup out there, so let’s make a rule that all the fan selections come in to play after the fifth or sixth inning to finish the game or as close to that selected starting lineup as possible.
  • Offer up a monetary gain for the winning team. I don’t know one person that isn’t inspired by money, and I doubt even the players could pass up the chance to win an extra half million each. Instead of just giving all of them a $500K check as thank you for showing up bonus, they should only give that “bonus” money to the winning team. Let’s see how serious the players get with a half million on the line. Maybe even make the losing team donate some money to charity or something along those lines.
  • Push the game back one day. This seems like the easiest fix on my list. Start the season one day earlier and give the players one extra day before the ASG, so we can get the best pitchers to pitch. No offense to Robertson, Wilson, Walden, or League, but wouldn’t you rather see Verlander, CC, Felix, Price, and Haren pitching instead? No need to answer, it was a rhetorical question.
One last quick thing they should do is add some more skills challenges. It feels like the HR derby is as popular as the actual game, so why not try to add to it. I don’t give two craps about the celebrity softball game, ok maybe watching EA and Kate Upton wasn’t terrible TV, but it wasn’t good either. How about they do an outfielders challenge where they set up targets on all the bases and you get points for accuracy and maybe some bonus point for hitting targets on the fly. How about a game of horse between pitchers. Like throwing certain pitches to parts of the strike zone like a whiffle ball strike zone, and making the next guy match it or they get a letter. How about a presidential race like in Washington. Put some players in those funny president suits and have them run a lap. I could think of a million stupid little games that I would watch if pros were doing it, so I’m not sure why they wouldn’t try to include a few extra skills challenges, and I’m sure the players would be down, well, at least the ones that like to have fun. As always though, no changes will be made and baseball will be stuck in reverse yet again…

Baseball Needs Some Juice

It seems as though everyone thinks baseball is on the decline, and that’s pretty tough to the latter with very few intriguing story lines for the casual fan this season. A couple weeks ago we saw the TV ratings come out that were very low, but the A’s were surprisingly up +48% as MCeezy quickly pointed out to me. We’ve seen attendance head south with half the teams drawing under 30,000 per game. The proclaimed best player in baseball just hit his 600th homer, but being a cheater and liar, so nobody seemed to care. The umpires are blowing calls left and right, and replay is still out of the question for some inconceivable reason. The worst part is even the umpires have said they wouldn’t mind it. In the YouTwitFace Era, we need instant gratification. We want everything now, and sitting through long baseball games everyday isn’t always that appealing. There are so many other options out there, it’s hard to keep anyone’s attention for very long anymore. How does baseball win back its viewers? Speed up games, and move into the YouTwitFace Era. Maybe even think about realignment to get people fired up about beating teams within their state/region. Maybe throwing out the whole AL and NL thing wouldn’t even be a terrible idea. I’d love to see a division filled with the California teams (A’s, Angels, Dodgers, Giants, Padres), I can already hear the smack talk between me and my friends. There’s no question that the DH causes games to be longer adding another hitter to the lineup. The AL games take close to a fifteen minutes longer to complete than NL games, so axe the DH. Maybe limiting the time a batter can step out of the box or putting a pitching clock up when runners aren’t on base (they already do that in college). There are tons of solutions, but baseball is so old school that they just don’t conform to the times. I will always love the game regardless of whether it conforms to the times or not, but if they don’t do something, they are going to be battling the NHL for the third most popular sport. One thing I’ve always liked about the NBA and NFL is that they do make an effort to make the game better for us, the fans. Hell, the NFL is looking into putting a mirco chip into the football to see if the ball crosses the goal line or first down marker, and why not use technology to their advantage! Have you ever heard someone regret starting to use the latest technology? Yeah, that’s what I thought… Continue reading

So You’re Tellin Me There’s a Chance!

One of my favorite players in the NBA is Brandon Roy, and I hope he rests through the break to completely heal from his injury. Not just because he’s one of the dominant fourth quarter scorers or because I happen to have him on my fantasy team, but for a new reason that came to light today. Roy is just one of those guys that wants to win, and will take a lesser role to enable his team to succeed when they are healthy. He does step it up when they are injury riddled, like they have been the past two years, and shows why he is such a good player. The recent news out of Portland is that he’s had set backs with that hammy that’s been bothering him. For some strange reason he still isn’t IR eligible in fantasy (screw you ESPN!). Anyways, they are saying that if he doesn’t play in a regular team game before the All-Star exhibition game, he will rest, opposed to possibly injuring the hammy further in the All-Star game. This will open the door for the first Warriors player since 1997 to get into the mid-season classic. Monta Ellis was the runner up to Chauncey Billups to replace CP3 in the game, so if Roy is held out of the game, Ellis should be the guy to get in there. Granted to most people this is about as exciting as me watching Lakers games hoping for them to lose, but to Warriors fans it might be the one bright spot in a horrific year, filled with injuries and dysfunction. That is, unless, Curry somehow takes the ROY award away from Tyreke or the team gets sold to Larry Ellison. If the Warriors ended up getting sold to Ellison, that would be the best thing to happen to the franchise in over two decades. For now, the possibility of Monta being named to the All-Star game would be the only highlight to our season thus far!

Monta Plays Like an All-Star

Monta Ellis may be playing like an all-star, but it doesn’t sound too likely he’ll make it to the mid-season classic. He’ s averaging 26.1 ppg 4.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.2 steals per game. Some argue that since he’s on a losing team that plays at a fast pace waters down his stats. Some also argue that his league high in minutes (41.3 ) make putting up those kind of numbers much easier. I think people are taking for granted what he’s been doing consistently for the Warriors. Defense’s are obviously keying on him, and he’s improving in every facet of his game, again. I’ve never once felt like Monta was regressing during his whole career with the dubs, which is something I can’t say for many players. My question to the doubters is, how could the Warriors really afford to play him less? They’ve had 9 or less players suited up for 32 of their games this season. Against Milwaukee, they didn’t have enough guys to finish the game, and took a technical despite having Stephen Curry fouled out. If they didn’t have him, they probably wouldn’t even have double digit wins (11). I hope he gets selected as a reserve. He doesn’t have a ton of competition aside from Brandon Roy at the SG spot (he deserves it over Monta), so I’m holding on to a little hope. O.J. Mayo and Eric Gordon are the closest to him in scoring, but would you agree with either of them getting the nod over Monta? Doubtful. I guess they might take an extra PG, since there are a TON of good ones that probably won’t get into the game. If Monta doesn’t get picked, he should consider entering the HORSE game, because it looks like he’s got a few trick shots in the bag!

I’d like to invite anyone to argue that he is a less deserving candidate for the team, than say, Tracy Mcgrady! If T-Mac doesn’t give up his All-Star spot, we shouldn’t allow China’s All-Star votes to count next year. Ok, one case is acceptable, and that’s if the votes are going to someone that actually IS playing like Ariza or Brooks. The same kind of argument could be made about AI as well, but I don’t really want to get into that one…

The Dubs haven’t had a All-Star since Carlisimacoachchoker Spreewell  in 1997. Not an eyebrow raising fact, but true nonetheless. I’ll leave you with Kobe’s thoughts on Ellis “”He’s still underrated. I know how good he is, and all his peers know how good he is … he doesn’t get the credit he deserves.”

Who Should Start For The NL?

The MLB All-Star Game is less than a month away, thus kicking off one of my favorite pastimes…. speculating who will be the starting pitchers for each league.  It probably has to do with the fact that the A’s usually have someone in the running – Josh Outman is 2nd in BAA!  All kidding aside, it’s the NL that has me intrigued this year.  There are five distinct candidates; few could argue that.  Although I certainly don’t consider it to be the end all gauge for pitchers, look no further than the NL ERA rankings to find these five.

The first guy I rule out is Johnny Cueto.  To be honest, I wouldn’t even include him had I not known he has the lowest ERA.  His numbers are solid, but the 6-4 record is far from sexy and let’s be real, we just don’t hear a lot about this guy.  He’s pretty much this year’s version of Edinson Volquez, and look where that got him.

The next guy I rule out is Matt Cain.  A friend actually told me today he thought Cain is the front runner right now.  His reasoning was that Cain leads the league in complete games (three), wins (nine), and is third in ERA.  All good points, but I see some things that cancel those out.  The glaring fault I see is his K:BB ratio.  68 Ks to 34 BBs.  That’s 2:1 folks.  Not only is that obviously the worst among these five guys, he’s also got the worst BAA and WHIP, not to mention the least amount of innings pitched.  That 9-1 record looks a lot luckier to me now having said that.  I’m happy for the guy though.  He’s had notoriously poor run support the last few years, so it’s good to see him make up a few wins.

The other three guys, in my opinion, all deserve it, but I reluctantly cross out Chad Billingsley next.  I’m a pretty firm believer in the old practice of taking the best pitcher on the best team.  Billingsley and the Dodgers are that.  His 9-3 record helps, but the numbers just don’t stand out above the rest of the group.  A lot of his numbers, in fact, are similar to Lincecum’s, but Timmy comes out ahead in just about every category.  Billingsley has also walked the most batters, however his 93 Ks keep his ratio out of Matt Cain territory.  Aside from the win-loss records, choosing Billingsley over Lincecum just can’t be justified.

Speaking of Lincecum, I like him a lot for the fact that he’s the reigning Cy Young winner.  Sure, that’s reflective of last season, but to me, that makes him the defending champion i.e. the “top guy.”  He’s got 10 more Ks than the next guy on this list and his overall numbers are solid.  That win total of six might be his undoing though.  To his credit, I can see at least three starts that should’ve/could’ve ended in wins.  I would give the nod to Lincecum if it weren’t for……

Dan Haren.  Has a 5-4 pitcher ever been named the starter for the All-Star Game?  There’s a good chance the answer is no.  But, if you take a look at how he got to 5-4, you quickly realize he is FAR better than the record indicates.  He has four starts where he went 6+ innings (7 in three of them) and only gave up 1 run.  With any reasonable offense, he would be 9-2.  Beyond the wins and losses though, you’ll find superior numbers.  His 2.20 ERA is second only to Cueto, and he is head and shoulders above all these guys in WHIP (0.81) and BAA (.181)  Those numbers are unreal!  You know what else is unreal?  90 Ks to only 13 walks.  That’s 6.92 K:BB people!  Throw in 94 IP – second only to Josh Johnson‘s 98 – and Haren is the clear cut favorite for the All-Star Game start.  The best part is… there’s still a month to go and this race could have five completely different guys!

NL All-Star Starting Pitcher?

NL All-Star Starting Pitcher?

Manny for Homecoming King

Let the debate begin:  Should Manny Ramirez represent the Dodgers and Major League Baseball in the 2009 All-Star game?

Who needs a hat??

Who needs a hat??

No one can deny the talent Manny possesses, and the fact that he is a true All-Star of the game of Baseball.   Few know of the work ethic he has established to maintain his legendary hand-eye coordination and balance  in the batters box.  He brings joy to so many with his antics and boyish love of the game.  Even the critics have to laugh at the strange plays that develope more frequently around him than any other leftfielder in recent memory.  Rarely do you see one outfielder go out of his way to get involved in a relay throw from another outfielder, or high-five fans at the wall in the middle of a double play.  Rarely?  How bout never.  That’s just “Manny being Manny”, a prime example of the forgiveness he’s afforded.

And through all of the good times, there seems to be a strong continued support for Manny even now after a 50-game suspension for breaking the leaugue’s banned substance policy.  No matter the broken hearts and the embarassing deconstruction of his own Section in Dodger Stadium, there is still an overriding majority of fans who support his cause.  None of this is more evident than the fact that he trails Carlos Beltran for the third outfielder in All-Star voting by less than 35,000 votes as of today.  

Manager Joe Torre expressed his position, saying he didn’t think Manny should take part if voted in.  He also obliged that Manny would probably feel the same way at this point.  So why does Manny continue to receive so many votes from his fans?  It’s for the same reason Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds were such polarizing athletes in the media and in the fan’s homes:  Persona.  While Bonds and McGwire shunned the media and presented a holier-than-thou attitude for most of their careers (ok, McGwire lightened up a tiny bit at the end), Manny has always been the exact opposite. 

In front of fans and the media, he has always played the role of an average Joe who happens to have an exceptional talent.  Manny is jovial, he’s carefree, he’s so damn talented, and the fact of the matter is fans have and always will appreciate Manny.  They continue to ignore the contract disputes and the back talk he’s become famous for while airing his disputes in the media.  If nothing else, Manny is this: Popular.  And let’s not forget the All-Star ballot is a popularity contest won over and over again by good players in big markets.  The player with the better first half does not always win, and in no case (outside of farewell tours for retirees) will this be more evident than in 2009.

Manny being voted in this year will make for more fodder than journalists will be able to keep up with, and we are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg.  As a fan of Baseball and spectacle, Thank You Manny Ramirez for creating this ongoing debate for months to follow.

Manny completes a triple play, but gets credit for only two outs.

Manny completes a triple play, but gets credit for only two outs.