Let’s liven up the All-Star game with a fantasy sports feature

After its 2002 All-Star Game ended in a disappointing 7-7 tie, Major League Baseball decided to add more drama to the midsummer classic by awarding the winning league home field advantage in the World Series.

In theory, the move should have resulted in more exciting games by giving players an added incentive to win. In practice, I’m not certain the change has made much of an impact.

For starters, other than a few notable exceptions, the concept of home field advantage is overstated. And those few exceptions generally do not occur on a baseball diamond.

Of more significance, however, is the frequency with which today’s athletes change teams – and leagues.

Since Major League Baseball’s annual trading deadline is July 31 (a little more than two weeks after the All-Star game), it is quite possible tat a player who helps his league win the game and gain home field advantage could actually end up playing for a team in the opposing league during the World Series. In fact, he very well could be personally responsible for giving his team’s opponent home field advantage as a result of his performance in the All-Star game.

So how do we make the All-Star game more interesting and exciting?

How about injecting a bit of fantasy baseball into the contest? It would be strange, but interesting, to see what would happen if the MLB were to award players points for what they do in the All-Star game. Batters would earn a certain number for hits and total bases. Pitchers would accrue points through strike-outs and scoreless innings. Once the season resumes, teams could cash in their players’ points at pivotal moments, adding a whole new dimension of strategy to the game.

Let’s say, for example, the Nationals’ Bryce Harper is at the plate with the winning run in scoring position, and the Pirates’ Mark Melancon, the National League saves leader, is on the mound. If Melancon accrued enough points from the All-Star game to earn an extra strike (for use whenever he wanted), Harper would come to bat knowing he only has two strikes to work with.

On the other hand, what if Harper earned an extra base because of his All-Star performance? If so, he might only need a single to plate the winning run, making Melancon’s job all the more challenging.

Players also could increase their trade value by accruing fantasy points to complement their achievements on the field. A GM evaluating the pros and cons of a trade may be convinced to pull the trigger if he knows a player will arrive with 50 or 60 fantasy points in his back pocket.

Of course, baseball purists will object. But they objected when the designated hitter was introduced in 1973 and it’s still here more than 40 years later. Instant replay review also had its share of skeptics when baseball started the practice in 2008, but the system seems to be working well and has been expanded during the past two seasons.

With this new proposal, however, baseball purists may not be the only obstacle. Convincing rabid fantasy sports players to allow the MLB to use their game could be a challenging task with a very ironic twist.

Categories: Sports

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5 replies »

  1. Speaking on behalf of purists everywhere, the most terrifying thought about this is that somebody in the MLB front office might see it and say hey, why didn’t WE think of it first.

    Fantasy sports have just exploded in the last few years and it seems like everybody I know is into them. For me, though, they ruin the game because I find myself having to root for somebody I hate to succeed or for someone I love to fail, and after a season of fantasy football I said to hell with it.

    But damn, this idea is even more terrifying.

  2. I’m probably just a curmudgeonly purist, but I adhere fanatically to the idea that the game should be decided on the field. This has the feel of slippery slope written all over it. It certainly allows an extraneous force to change what happens on the field. All I can say is NO! – and, of course, get off my lawn.

    Like Sam, I know plenty of people who really love the fantasy sports stuff. I agree with him completely on another point (mark your calendars, everyone). I think, too, that it ruins my experience of the game. I’m not a football fan; I’m an indifferent basketball fan. Baseball is the only team sport I follow. It’s already been reduced to the length of little league games when I was a kid (6 innings) by the ubiquitous use of relief pitching specialists. Heaven knows it doesn’t need this kind of video game gimmickry added.

    So glad Berkeley Breathed has brought back “Bloom County.” Bill the Cat’s comment on this idea can be offered with context again: “Phhtttt!”

  3. Actually, I did think of working that into the title. Truth be told, I really am a baseball purist who has yet to warm up to the DH, but I also like to stir things up from time to time. Hope everyone enjoys the game tonight.

  4. Actually, I did think of working that into the title. Truth be told, I am a baseball purist who has yet to warm up to the DH, but I also like to stir things up from time to time. Hope everyone enjoys the game tonight.