On the 6th of July 1933, Major League Baseball played its first ever All-Star Game. The Midsummer Classic brought together the best MLB players from the American and Nation Leagues and pit them against each other in an exhibition game. For decades, baseball fans looked forward to the MLB All-Star Game as it was the only time they could see the American League’s best players take on National League’s top stars outside of the World Series.
However, in 1997, MLB introduced Interleague play allowing American League and National League teams to play during the regular season, something that hadn’t happened in any season prior.
With Interleague play now over 20 years old, the All-Star Game has suffered due to it. Fans get to see the top players from each league play before and after the Midsummer Classic, neutering the exhibition game of its excitement.
MLB All-Star Game has lost its meaning
In recent years, other top American sports leagues including the NBA and NHL have altered their all-star games to keep fans interested.
The NBA changed their all-star game format in 2018 to allow two teams captains to choose their squads in a draft/pick-up style of play. The format allows players to play alongside other stars they normally wouldn’t. Although it has given fans something new to watch, it still features many of the same alley-ops and long-range shots that made the all-star game boring to watch in the first place.
Why are all-star games so important in American-based sports? It is difficult to understand as sports in Europe lack the same annual exhibition games featuring top stars. The English Premier League, seen as the world’s top football league, doesn’t have an all-star game equivalent.
Perhaps it would be a major event if the Premier League did. If it was used as a charity match, it could raise millions of pounds to a great cause. Or if it was used as an exhibition game in a foreign country, like the United States, it could be a major advertising tool for the Premier League.
Perhaps that is where the MLB, NHL, and NBA All-Star Games are going wrong. Perhaps they should be played abroad allowing fans from other countries to see the best talent available. An advertisement for potential fans to watch these sports leagues and learn.
Last season, the NBA Europe game was played in London with the (yawn) New York Knicks playing the Washington Wizards.
What to do with the MLB All-Star Game?
New rule: Scrap the MLB All-Star Game. Invite 16 guys to take part in the Home Run Derby. Have it over two nights. 10 million to the winner. I would watch that.
— Sid Seixeiro (@Sid_Seixeiro) July 9, 2019
One Twitter user stated MLB should scrap the All-Star Game and have a two-night Home Run Derby. Perhaps that would excite fans to watch.
Yes, the Home Run Derby and pre-MLB All-Star Game events can be exciting to watch. But those too would become dull after a few years of repeated watching.
Perhaps the biggest changes MLB could make to create a more attractive Midsummer Classic is to first an foremost eliminate Interleague play. The lack of teams from the American and National Leagues playing each other would make it far more interesting to see the best of the best play.
In addition, the MLB season is too long. The 162 game season schedule has been in effect since 1961 when it was increased from 154 games.
That is 1,458 innings of baseball for each team if teams do not go to extra innings. The 2019 MLB season started on March 20th and will finish on October 30th in what is a marathon of baseball games.
A fan can watch baseball any night of the week and with the MLB Network and other ways to see nearly every game, the MLB All-Star Game is just a night off for fans. It is also a night off for those players that do not get voted in.
So, should the MLB All-Star Game be scrapped? Unless serious changes are made, this writer sees it as an unnecessary midseason exhibition game that has lost its appeal from the 1970s and 1980s.