Do you believe the ratings have gotten Sin-bad, or are you a non-believer like Sam Harris??
The very purpose of the All-Star Game—the extravaganza of seeing the best players in one place—has simply lost most of its appeal… The big gimmick, obviously, is giving the winning league home-field advantage during the World Series. This is pretty ridiculous if you think about it for more than a few seconds and has been mocked appropriately but, beyond the mocking, I have to say I don’t really mind it. The old way of alternating home-field advantage was even more stupid… There’s no perfect way to do it, so I don’t really care if they give it to the All-Star Game winner. It’s just one step up from a coin flip, but maybe like Geena Davis says in “A League Of Their Own”: It’s an important step.
But saying that the home-field advantage gimmick isn’t particularly harmful isn’t the same as saying that it adds much fun to the game. I don’t think it adds anything at all. Watching the remaining All-Stars on the bench play in the last couple of innings with home-field advantage on the line is sort of the opposite of enjoyable for me; it’s like watching the bubble players in an NFL preseason game try to put the game-winning drive together (or stop it) for the right to play on Monday Night Football in December. It is incongruous and feels absurd.
This is a personal opinion: I would kind of like to see baseball go the other way. Instead of trying to add meaning to the game, it seems to me, it should celebrate the fact that the game doesn’t mean anything. If it does that, it can take some chances. I think the All-Star Game is the perfect time to try all sorts of things that fans might like to see, just once. It should try full-fledged replay. It should try robotic umpiring—with the umpires wearing special headphones that beep when a pitch is called a strike by the computer. It should play with a juiced ball one year, a dead ball another. It should choose a pile of All-Stars and have the two managers draft them. It should have players wear the old wool uniforms, it should have them use the old gloves, it should make it more interactive—there are a million things it could do to make the game fun and tie it to history without changing the rules. I think it should try all of them.
I’m not saying these things would work and would make the All-Star Game big again. I think that ship has sailed. Twenty-four million people watched in 1991, and 11 million people watched last year. That was the lowest rated All-Star Game ever, and I think it’s probably only going to get worse. But 11 million viewers is still a lot—it’s still the biggest sporting event on television between the end of the NBA Finals and the start of football—and I think there are ways to keep baseball fans at least somewhat interested. But I think it’s telling that, right now, the most fun part about the All-Star Game is arguing about it before it even gets played.