Samardzija deserves to play in All-Star Game
You want to put some life into this year's All-Star Game? Let Jeff Samardzija pitch.
You really want to put some pizazz into the Midsummer Classic? Let Samardzija pitch an inning for both leagues. Maybe he could be both the winning and losing pitcher.
OK, so letting Samardzija pitch for both the American and National Leagues in the All-Star Game is far-fetched, but only Major League Baseball could come up with something so cockamamie as not letting an all-star play ball.
Samardzija made the National League all-star team as a Cub, but he was traded to the AL's Oakland Athletics on the Fourth of July. So MLB told Samardzija he can go to Minneapolis this week, but he's ineligible to pitch. And this from an organization that has gone interleague crazy the last few years.
Baseball's All-Star Game is still the crown jewel among the major sports' all-star contests, but there's no doubt the MLB contest has lost a lot of its luster in recent years.
Some of it's the times. There a million entertainment options on TV now in addition to all of the things to do in the great outdoors in summer. And baseball has lost its lofty perch to football and basketball, both of which offer video-game action in comparison with baseball's pastoral pace.
The introduction of interleague play and the constant movement of free agents has blurred the line between the two leagues, taking some of the mystery out of the All-Star Game. There are no longer AL and NL league offices, presidents and umpires anymore.
Back in the day, it was common for NL President Warren Giles to give a pregame speech to his all-stars, exhorting them to go out and beat the "Junior Circuit."
But there's no reason the Midsummer Classic can't be classic again.
Here are a few suggestions.
Let the starters play:
Starting position players should play at least five innings. In 1996, I covered the All-Star Game in Philadelphia. For the NL, Lance Johnson of the Mets played the entire game and went 3-for-4. He gave it his all and was gassed afterward.
NL stars Barry Larkin, Barry Bonds and Mike Piazza each had 3 at-bats, with Piazza earning game MVP honors.
For the AL, Albert Belle got 4 at-bats, with Kenny Lofton, Wade Boggs, Mo Vaughn and Cal Ripken getting 3 each.
Weight the voting:
Fans have so little to say about what goes on in pro sports that I'd be reluctant to strip them of the right to vote for the starters altogether.
But some choices over the years have been ridiculous, and for that reason I'd prefer to weight the vote among fans, players, managers and coaches.
MLB and FOX TV overreacted when the 2002 All-Star Game ended in a tie, right in Commissioner Bud Selig's backyard of Milwaukee. So together they decided that the league winning the All-Star Game gets home-field advantage in the World Series.
The team with the best record in baseball should get home-field advantage in the World Series, period. MLB claims it can't do that because of planning purposes. With an extra wild card now in the playoffs, I don't see how MLB can plan anything anyway for October.
Whatever, take the All-Star Game out of the homefield argument.
Now can somebody remember to ship Cubs and A's uniforms to Minneapolis for Samardzija to wear?
• Follow Bruce's reports on Twitter@BruceMiles2112.