Well. I think we can all agree that there are flaws in the MLB All-Star game process. Controversy abounds every year regarding player selection, pitching line-up, and DH/no DH ballparks. And it is warranted by virtue of the fact that the MLB is the only major sport who's All-Star Game has an impact on deciding the champion for that season.
Perhaps the other sports can offer some insight on how to keep the MLB ASG entertaining while also being meaningful.
NFL Pro Bowl. Let's face it, the Pro Bowl game is boring. I've never once had a debate with someone regarding Pro Bowl selections. I don't even care how they do it. Until last year, the Pro Bowl was played in Hawaii a few weeks after the Super Bowl and was considered nothing but a boondoggle (party trip paid for by the boss) by my friends and I. We never watched the game, had trouble finding it on TV even if we wanted to, and aside from being proud that one of our players made the roster, didn't really care about the outcome.
In 2010, the NFL tried to change that by putting the Pro Bowl on the weekend between the AFC/NFC Championships and the Super Bowl. Epic Failure. No player who was going to be in the Super Bowl would play. Why risk injury before the biggest sports championship in America? Not gonna happen. And frankly, the NFL can't have it all. For entertainment, we have the NFL Draft, Thursday Night Football, all day Sunday Football, Monday Night Football, Fantasy Football - geez - we love our football, but you can saturate the market. It's ok that the Pro Bowl is irrelevant. Just move it back into late February. I promise - it's ok.
NHL All-Star Game: little known fact - proceeds from this game go to the players pension fund. I kinda like that. During Olympic years, there is no All-Star game. This is so that players can represent their home countries without missing games since the Olympics line up with the midpoint of the Hockey season - at least that is how they schedule it. I kinda like that too. Finally, this year they changed the player selection format.
Fans select 6 players, NHL Hockey Operations selects 36 players, and then they vote on Captains, one for each conference (east & west). THEN, the captains hold a "fantasy draft" and pick their teammates. Conferences no longer matter. This year, it was "Team Lidstrom" vs "Team Staal." I really like that. It's more fun for the fans as well as the players and since it's just an exhibition game that is meaningless, it should be about fun and entertainment.
NBA All-Star Game: Here is where sports truly meets entertainment. The NBA definitely knows how to put on a show and All-Star Weekend is just one great event after another. Whether you are a basketball fan or not, I bet you've seen the "Dunk Contest" or the "Three-Point Contest." They are just fun to watch and it doesn't matter which team or player is your favorite. There is something in this spectacle for everyone.
The players in the NBA All-Star Game are chosen in a two-step process. First, fans vote to set the starting line-up for each squad. Then, the coaches for each squad vote for players to fill out the roster - and they are NOT allowed to vote for their own players. Oh snap! In case anyone selected cannot play due to injury or some other reason, the commissioner picks a player to fill his spot. Clean and simple. A little popularity contest filled in with some smart strategic votes to get a great group of players for a game that is all about entertainment and means absolutely nothing to the season. Works for me.
Conclusions? It seems as if the other sports have gone for "Entertainment" instead of "Meaning." I really like that the MLB ASG means something. The problem is, it feels like the game is easily manipulated to give an advantage to one side over another. Balloting has become a popularity contest. PEOPLE! This isn't Peyton Hillis getting the cover of Madden! That is a popularity contest and it works just fine for it's purposes. Vote Responsibly! The fans vote for the starting line-up so we end up with multiple starters from large market teams. My suggestion is simpler and I think works better.
First, fan voting continues HOWEVER the players chosen are the two largest vote-getters from EACH TEAM, regardless of position. That makes 30 players per division. Current roster is 34 so it should be expanded to 36. Now, coaching staff selects the starters and would pick an additional 6 players to make sure each position is covered and has a back up. Done. Simple. Everyone is happy (happier?) and frankly, each team better have two guys that the fans can vote for.
Also, it removes the dilemma of strategy. Are pitching rotations being moved around so that a guy can work the ASG? Are the ASG Managers picking their own players with an eye towards winning the game or giving them the three-day-off holiday to refresh them for the second half of the season? This game give the winner home field advantage for the World Series and in a league where pitching and DH's mean so much, that advantage is huge. I think my way appeases everyone and still makes the game fair and meaningful.
If you don't like my idea, then tell me yours... because we can all agree that something has gotta change!