07/11/13 — Stevens: All-Star game far from perfect

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Stevens: All-Star game far from perfect

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on July 11, 2013 1:47 PM

Eleven years ago, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig made the infamous decision of halting the 2002 All-Star game after 11 innings with the score tied at 7-7 because both teams were out of pitching.

A year later, Selig coined the phrase "This Time it Counts," in reference to the rule to change to award the league that wins the All-Star game with home-field advantage for the World Series.

The All-Star game has long been viewed as an exhibition and expecting one rule change to cause players, managers and fans to suddenly alter their feelings towards the mid-summer classic is difficult.

If Selig's declaration that the All-Star game suddenly counts is true, it should be reflected in the way the rosters are selected and the game is managed.

Prior to his final All-Star game last season, former Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones was quoted as saying, "To be honest, the players still treat it as an exhibition game. If you want to really ride everything on it, take the nine best players from each league and let them go at it for nine innings. Don't give them an at-bat here and an at-bat there, or an inning here and an inning there, because that doesn't tell you anything. If you want to put so much on one game, then you have to have the elite of the elite play all nine innings and have your manager fill in the cracks as you go."

Jones' assessment of the All-Star game is spot on. If home-field advantage in the World Series is truly at stake, then the game should be approached with the same intensity as any regular season or playoff game. Fans should be treated to nine innings of baseball's best players battling it out.

One of the biggest flaws in Major League Baseball's All-Star game is the decision to allow fans to vote on which player is awarded the final roster spot for each team.

Los Angeles Dodgers' rookie phenom Yasiel Puig is likely to miss next week's All-Star game because he currently trails Atlanta's Freddie Freeman in the fan voting for the final spot on the National League roster. Puig entered Wednesday with a .407 batting average, eight home runs and 19 RBI in 34 games. The native of Cuba has 17 multi-hit games and a .659 slugging percentage.

Frankly, baseball needs Puig at Citi Field in New York next week. Not just because it is hard to argue that he isn't one of the best players in the game right now. But also, because last season's All-Star game sank to record-low television ratings. Puig doesn't deserve to start but the thought of him pinch-hitting late in a critical situation with the ability to change the game with one swing of the bat makes for must-see television.

If Major League Baseball wants fans to truly to start taking its All-Star game seriously, it has to lead by example and start doing so itself.