We're less than a month away from the 82st Major League Baseball All Star Game, I thought it prudent to review what is, and isn't working in the current format.
What is working:
1) Tuesday is a great day to host it
2) Marketing of the event is outstanding
3) Players genuinely covet roster spots (unlike NFL) and you can see it on their faces
4) DH (added this year) to all games regardless of location (and I'm generally a DH hater)
What isn't working:
1) Fans voting in starters
2) Selection of reserves
3) Field Management of the game
4) Home field in the World Series being on the line
More on each of the "isn't working" and how I would fix:
1) Fans voting in the starters. All this does is skew the starting lineup to the big markets and popular teams. It used to be the popular players regardless of team (Gwynn, Ozzie, Brett, Bench) but now it reads like a Yankees/Red Sox "mash up". The catcher for the NL is always from Chicago, St. Louis, or LA. Never a .300 hitting Benji Molina or slugging Pirate Ryan Doumit. Mind you, some of this is fed by Fox, who do you see on Fox Weekly games? New York, LA, Chicago, Boston, etc.
I propose that fans vote as they do today, BUT these players are only on the roster, not starters. This will also help the field management, the NL and AL managers can actually make a lineup that makes sense. With a speedy guy leading off, a contact hitter in the 2-hole, sluggers through 6, and maybe some better defensive players toward the bottom. You know, like a real manager would!
2) Selection of reserves. By the time the players and coaches vote in additional mandatory players, then the "one player per team" is filled, there's usually about one or two spots left at managers discretion. I think the managers should have the whole league to choose from, with the caveat that his team can have no more than one player than the next most represented team. This allows the manager to build an all star team based upon who he thinks can win the game. I think the one per team stays intact, it's actually something that makes the game special.
3) Field management of game. The next "rule" is, you play it like a real game. That doesn't mean you don't pinch hit or just play the starting nine. But Pujols, Jeter, Utley, Morneau should be in there at the end. Instead you end up with one of the last players added to the team pinch hitting against Mariano b/c you want him to play. You might substitute defense late. You can pinch hit righty/lefty, etc. Brings a whole new dynamic to the game, rather than the fire-wagon substitutions you see in the 5th - 8th innings. If a player doesn't play, so be it. It's an honor to be selected, and even more of an honor if you get a chance to play.
4) Home field advantage for the World Series. This is EXACTLY like how the BCS got formed. There was a problem (the tie in 2002) and they needed a way to win the fans back. Just like there was a bowl system that didn't pit the top two teams in 1997 so they found one that would. Both the previous systems were inadequate (World Series was determined by odd/even year whether it was AL or NL hosting 4 of the 7 games. They need to do the next thing (both of them). BCS should have a playoff and the World Series home field advantage should be decided by team with the best record. If you institute #3 above, you don't need to dangle home field as an incentive.
Once fan voting is finalized, I will institute my plan above and give you the rosters of each league if I were manager. And lineup. Might look a lot the same, might be different. Roster sizes should be a bit lower, but not the standard 25, because of the need for extra pitchers given you won't have one guy going 6+ innings.