Good time to revisit All-Star Game and festivities
With the All-Star Game and its surrounding activities approaching in a couple of weeks in Minneapolis, I'd like to share a few thoughts.
First off, I think the Futures Game is a great idea, and I am glad to see that continue. There is a lot of motivation for prospects to shine on the big stage.
The Home Run Derby is another story. It's way too long and it's boring. Maybe I'm too close to the game to have a good opinion. I see guys hit balls out of the park during batting practice every day as it is. But after awhile, it just seems monotonous.
My alternative Monday night event is an old-timers game.
With all due respect to Robin Yount, who hates the idea, it's can't-miss television and the best way to honor the history of our game.
What you could do is take an all-time team from the host club and put it up against a group of alternating all-stars (i.e., have an NL squad play at the AL site and then vice versa) each year.
So in two weeks, you bring back Jack Morris, Kent Hrbek, Randy Bush, Bert Blyleven, Paul Molitor, Gary Gaetti, Rod Carew, Dave Goltz, Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat (and our guy Ron Coomer, too!) and have Tom Kelly manage the Twins' old-timers.
Have them play a group of old NL all-stars (if you want, you can have each NL team represented for fun) like Mike Schmidt, Bruce Sutter, Rick Sutcliffe, Andre Dawson, Orel Hershiser, Goose Gossage, Fergie Jenkins, Ozzie Smith, Dave Winfield and Greg Maddux and have maybe Whitey Herzog or Jack McKeon manage them.
Some of the older all-stars such as Ernie Banks and Willie Mays would be observers, but just having those guys in uniform again would be a sight to behold.
My thing is this: Fans don't need or want to see their heroes in their prime again. They just want to see them on the field one more time.
I got the idea watching the Maple Leafs and Red Wings play two alumni games before the NHL's Winter Classic. Seeing all those stars from my youth (and even before that) brought back great memories. Having septuagenarian Red Berenson lace up the skates one more time was pretty cool.
Was it good hockey? Not really, but that was never the point. Just watching how much fun those guys had made me giddy.
Now onto the big game. MLB has to rid itself of World Series homefield advantage riding on the All-Star Game.
With interleague play happening every day now and a much more balanced schedule, overall record should determine the site of the Fall Classic's Game 7.
If my team wins 110 games and gets to the World Series, is it fair that my 96-win opponent gets homefield advantage because its league won an exhibition game? Of course not.
If we are resigned to the current format, then maybe we should eliminate every team having to have an All-Star Game representative. Yes, it is nice to give each team's fans someone to root for, but if the game counts, you have take the best players. Period.
Furthermore, if the game matters, why do fans still get to vote? Is Derek Jeter really a deserving all-star player this year? Don't get me wrong, he should be in Minneapolis, but why should he play in a game with so much riding on it when there may be a more qualified shortstop sitting at home?
As much as I love Jeter, in my world, he should have to wait until next year when he suits up for the AL Old Timer All-Stars in Cincinnati.
• Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter@LenKasper and check out his baseball-blog with Jim Deshaies at wgntv.com.