the problem of extra innings in the All-Star game

16 07 2008

As the 2008 baseball All-Star game went into extra innings, commissioner Bud Selig was looking quite disheveled.  But at least the game didn’t end in a tie.  There are no ties in baseball, especially in games that count.

I don’t really have a problem with the All-Star game determining who gets home-field advantage in the World Series.  It adds excitement and drama to the game, which would be just an exhibition otherwise.  But the managers need to quit trying to get everyone into the game, because of what almost happened this year.  The game went 15 innings, and both teams were using their very last pitcher, with each having perhaps one more inning left.  So what would have happened if the score was still tied then?

I realize you want to get all the players into the game.  But this game counts, so it has to end with a winner, so you have to manage it accordingly.  Plus, there’s another factor besides the possibility of running out of pitchers.  The fans want to see the starters the most.  The starters received the most votes, meaning they’re the most popular with the fans.  And the starters are typically the best players of that year.  By taking them all out after a few innings, the game gets decided by the players that didn’t get the most votes.  And in the case of an extra-inning game, these players also got to play more.

I’m not suggesting that reserves don’t make it into the game.  But the managers can leave the top players in the game longer, perhaps even the whole game for a few of them.  It used to work this way in the past, when players like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Mickey Mantle would play the whole game.  I think that’s what the fans want to see, and it will also be more conducive to winning.

Hopefully this year’s near-debacle will get some discussion going on this issue…




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