Does The MLB All-Star Game Matter?


Jul 14, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; National League outfielder

Giancarlo Stanton

(27) of the Miami Marlins reacts as he bats in the first round during the 2014 Home Run Derby the day before the MLB All Star Game at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight is the MLB All-Star Game and the general public is having  a pretty bland reaction to the Mid-Summer classic, similar to the sentiment around the NFL Pro Bowl.

Ever since the infamous tie in Milwaukee that left Bud Selig shaking his head and raising his arms in confusion, the MLB has tried to make it seem like this clash of starts matters but letting the victor of the contest determine home-field advantage in the World Series. The obvious criticism is that it takes away from clubs that have the best regular-season record, but if you delve a bit deeper, the selection-process also doesn’t put the best nine players out there, causing more issues with why this game should have that type of impact.

If you look through the World Series results since 2002, it is about a 50-50 split on whether or not home-field mattered to the winning team. Sure, having home-field will always tip the scale in your favor somewhat, but unlike basketball, it is not essential to the success of a team. There is a reason that the San Antonio Spurs played a bit harder for home-court this past year and the proof is in the pudding.

If the myth that getting the first two games at home is the main reason why some people watch the All-Star Game, then it’s fair to ask if the game really does mean anything. Is it so exciting to see Felix Hernandez toss two innings, and then have say Jon Lester come in for the third? Not for me. Frankly I would rather see both starters just pitch seven strong innings against a division contender.

Perhaps a redeeming factor is to see Adam Wainwright faceoff against Miguel Cabrera? But thanks to the influx of interleague play that has taken over Major League Baseball, that occurrence is not as rare as it once was.

We have fond memories of past All-Star games that help us romanticize this Monday in the middle of July. Oh I will be watching, but for some reason it feels as though the game has lost something, which is a shame, because as a kid it’s hard to think about that moment at Fenway Park when Ted Williams was wheeled out onto the field. It’s hard to forget Cal Ripken‘s home run in his final All-Star game, as well as Pedro Martinez‘s best Carl Hubbell impression in the ’99 game.

Hopefully the children will get some moments like the ones my generation has gotten the chance to witness. All I know is that I have little faith that tonight’s game will be something I remember 10-15 years from now.