Before I start, I’ll just throw out there that I didn’t even watch most of the game. I caught bits and pieces of the 9th-15th innings and I think I may have only caught a full inning just once in the 10th. So what I’m opining on is basically what I’ve heard and the little that I saw.
Scott Kazmir threw 104 pitches two days ago and was essentially viewed as ineligible to pitch going into the game. However, because the game went on so long, Kazmir was the only pitcher left. AL manager Terry Francona summoned him in the 15th inning and, thankfully, Kazmir was not injured and pitched a scoreless inning, allowing only one walk.
Rays fans and everyone in the Rays’ front office were holding their breath with every Kazmir pitch. Rightfully so.
The latest extra-inning All-Star Game debacle has brought front and center a somewhat pressing need to modify the mid-summer classic. Pitchers are just too valuable to be used frivolously in an exhibition, especially by managers of a contending rival team (not to insinuate that Francona would intentionally use Kazmir in a way that would put him at a huge risk).
Here are my ideas to make the game fun and safe for all.
- Like the NFL, move the All-Star Game to the off-season, two weeks after the World Series. This ensures that everyone has had proper rest. The Kazmir situation never comes up in this case.
- Because we’re moving the All-Star Game to mid-November, weather becomes a factor. We have a couple possibilities here: always hold the Game in a warm climate like Hawaii, or play in dome stadiums (they don’t have to be MLB stadiums like Tropicana Field or the Metrodome). This would be a great way to bring baseball to cities (or — get this — even countries) without a Major League franchise.
- The managers of the All-Star Game are retired legends of the game. There is no rigid process to finding these managers, it’s just whoever Major League Baseball finds to take the job. The AL manager must have played the majority of his career in the AL and the NL manager must have played the majority of his career in the NL. For instance, it could be Cal Ripken, Jr. managing the AL while Tony Gwynn manages the NL. The coaches are the managers whose teams played in the League Championship Series (two managers per league).
- Pare the rosters down to two starting pitchers, four relievers, eight position players (nine if there’s a DH), as well as one catching back-up, two infield back-ups, and two outfield back-ups per side (if there’s no DH, the team can have one additional player for any position, including pitcher). This makes the roster a maximum of 20 players which is good because the starters go more than just a couple innings, and the game is played more traditionally. It’s basically the regular 25-man roster every team has less three starters and two mop-up relievers.
- Take the voting out of the hands of the fans and select the players statistically. The positional leaders in OPS will automatically have a starting spot on the roster. The starters are the top-two leaders in ERA in each league. One closer from each side is the league leader in SV%. The back-ups will be the league leaders in statistical categories if they’re not already on the roster. For instance, the back-ups can be leaders in AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, RBI, and SB for hitters; WHIP and K for pitchers. This way, the selection process doesn’t favor teams that play in densely-populated cities or have a lot of fans.
- Remove the “one player from each team must be represented” rule. Institute a “three players from a team maximum” rule instead. If a team has more than three candidates, the manager gets to choose who he takes.
- A game will not go extra innings. If it’s tied after nine innings, the game is officially a tie. Because of this, we are removing the “winner gets home field advantage” reward. The team with the best record gets home field advantage in the World Series.
- Remove excessive pre-game festivities, and start the game an hour earlier at 7:05 PM Eastern. The game is not about flag-waving, the national anthem, player introductions, first pitches, or anything else. It’s about the game, and start it at a time when most of the country will still be awake enough to see the ending.
That’s all I have for now. If you have any additional ideas, go ahead and list ’em in the comments, or you can rip mine apart instead.