If Major League Baseball wants to heighten the awareness and popularity of its All-Star Game, it needs to end the fan-voting, as odd as that sounds.
The World Series is what every player and team is aiming for from the beginning of spring training. With that said, an exhibition game where the fans decide the starters should not determine which league gets home-field advantage for the fall classic.
If the MLB wants better viewership for the All-Star Game, the game should be held as a more important event that the fans don’t get to vote on. That may sound ludicrous to some, but it could work. The rule of the winning team of the All-Star Game determining which league gets home-field advantage was put into effect in 2003. This rule was put into effect to try and attract fans to actually care about the annual exhibition game held every July. That hasn’t changed the viewership as much as the MLB had hoped for.
The fans were first given the opportunity to first vote for the eight starters (the eight position players) in 1947. In 1957, fans of the Cincinnati Reds were stuffing the ballot so that all eight position players from the Reds would start in the All-Star Game. All were selected to start except for first base, which Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals received. Commissioner Ford Frick intervened and awarded Willie Mays and Hank Aaron starting spots over two Reds players as a form to make it a little fairer to fans outside of Cincinnati. The resulted in the discontinuing of fan voting until it was brought back in 1970, due to the MLB thinking the popularity of the game was fading.
If home-field advantage is going to be determined, then there needs to be a stoppage of fan voting once again, in order to put the very best team possible out on the field and not the most popular. This season at one point in the voting, seven of the eight position players voted to start were from the Kansas City Royals with the eighth starter being the reigning AL MVP Mike Trout. The Royals are having a great season thus far after coming so close to a World Series championship last season, but to have the possibility of a pretty much all-Royals (or any team with most of its position players starting) is pretty much having that team determine something for a whole league. Now with all that said, the players that are voted in by the fans as starters aren’t undeserving of the nod, but are they the absolute best players that can take the field to compete for his league to determine home-field advantage?
A solution to fan voting would be to have mangers and players vote for who should represent their league in the mid-summer classic. Here’s the catch to that: the managers can’t vote for their own players, players can’t vote for themselves or their teammates. After all, these guys play and manage against all the top talent at one point or another throughout the season. The managers and players can see who the best of the best are with their own eyes. The best of the best should be the ones representing the respective leagues.
Before the All-Star Game was the determining factor in who gets home-field advantage, the leagues would alternate from year to year. If the MLB wants to continue the fan voting, it should take the stakes away from the game. Instead of an exhibition game deciding which league gets home-field advantage, the regular season records should determine who has the advantage. Both World Series teams would each play 162 regular season games, barring any postponed games not being made up. After all, the regular season records is what gets teams into the playoffs, whether it be division winners or wild card winners. If the two teams had identical records during the regular season, you could go with record against the opposite league.
Sure, the fans cast millions of votes and get excited to see their selections getting the starting job, but should that determine home-field advantage? Another issue with the fan voting is a player from a bad team could get a starting spot and compete in the All-Star Game, when his team has virtually no chance of reaching the playoffs, let alone the World Series. The MLB has a rule where every team must have at least one representative, but that too needs to change, but that’s a whole other issue.
The All-Star Game will be held on Tuesday July, 14 to determine who gets home-field advantage in the World Series.