From The Bill Chuck Files of July 7, 2019
Each Sunday, in remembrance of my friend Nick Cafardo, I post “the Bill Chuck Files” (named by Nick in his Sunday Baseball Notes column).
Periodically, Nick would have a column devoted to a single subject (like manager rankings) and even I would have to sit on the sidelines. Today’s column is in that spirit as I suggest ways to enhance the All-Star Game.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the first All-Star Game which was played on July 6, 1933, at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in Chicago. Each squad consisted of 18 players chosen by the fans and managers. In that game, and for many years after, baseball’s brightest stars started and finished the game. These days, by the 7th inning we are looking at the replacement for the replacements for the back-up players selected to the squad. It’s nice that these guys get into the mid-summer classic, but it’s not as much fun to watch kinda All-Stars. So here’s my lead suggestion to enhance the All-Star Game: Allow the starters to return to the game once they have been removed. This rule is restricted to the starters and it can happen only once in a game. Each player can return to pinch-hit or return to the field. Don’t we want to see Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, and Christian Yelich go up against the top closers, when the game may count (or even if it doesn’t)? Why shouldn’t fans get to see Ronald Acuna Jr., Nolan Arenado, Javier Baez, Alex Bregman, Gary Sanchez, and Hunter Pence one more time? C’mon, admit it…this is a good idea.
Here are some more:
Each league gets to add a Legacy Player to each roster – a pitcher or player who has played at least 10 years in the majors. For many players, this will be their last chance to play in an All-Star game and for many fans, it may be their last chance to see them play.
Eliminate the rule that requires each team to have a representative on the roster. If you are tuning in to see your one player introduced and take the field for one inning or pitch to one batter or have one at bat rather than see a better player make the team, you are unclear on the concept of an “All-Star Game.”
The home team must have at least one player on the All-Star team. Fans who are paying good money to see this exhibition deserve the right to cheer for a player from their home team.
Each league gets to add a First-Year Player to each roster – a pitcher or player who has played less than 100 games in the majors. For many players, this will be their first chance to play in an All-Star game and for many fans, it may be their first chance to see the future stars of the game.
To the victors, go the spoils – the prior season’s MVPs, Cy Young Award winners, and Rookies of the Year are automatically on the squad. We need to reward and celebrate recent excellence and this means that the inclusion of the player is not just based on the first 90 games of the season.
No player who has suspended for drug use is eligible for the All-Star team. Ever.
A prize should be given to the best bat flip of the game. Voting takes place online throughout the game. If we are able to have Statcast figures that bore us throughout the season, we can at least make use of technology to celebrate something fun.
No, I’m not leaving out pitchers. A prize should be given out to the best pitcher’s reaction to a strikeout or a play in the field. For those traditionalists who don’t like this idea, here’s my advice: Grow up! It’s a kid’s game and kids know how to show emotion when something good happens.
I don’t want to hear one more hideous country and western singer crank out songs with God or blessing in it. And I don’t want to hear one more public address announcer ask fans to stand for that Irving Berlin show tune. It is not a national anthem and need not be treated with that degree of reverence. At the 7th inning stretch, play Ray Charles singing, “America the Beautiful.” It’s three minutes and forty-eight second of unadulterated joy and respect. If that’s too long it can be picked up at the 1:30 mark and the words can appear on the scoreboard and fans can sing along. Take a listen at the bottom of this column.
The walkoff shakeoff – At the end of the All-Star Game, let’s see each team lineup and shake hands like the end of the Stanley Cup. It’s a great moment for baseball unity and will present terrific photo-ops that will live long past the game itself.