Every team is required to have an All-Star. Should that be the case though?
One of the last controversial wrinkles regarding the All-Star Game comes down to all 30 teams being represented. MLB is required to select at least one player from every team, theoretically giving every fan a reason to watch. But should that be the case, especially if it means deserving players have to sit at home so the Orioles or Royals could send a representative?
I've warmed to the tradition that every team should have an All-Star. The game belongs to the fans, so why exclude any part of your fan base? No matter where you draw the line you will always get "snubs," which the media loves to sell rather than the guys who actually make the team. So lighten up, everybody.
Yes. Especially now that the game doesn't determine home-field advantage in the World Series, it's worth remembering the point of this thing: to pit the players fans most want to see against each other. There's no perfect way to assemble the teams, but it's not as much fun if only the playoff contenders are represented. We'll see plenty of the Dodgers and Astros in October.
I'm fine with it. MLB is going to want to do something to entice fans of every team to watch, and this is fair enough, even if it's all a little performative. But I do have a tweak to suggest here, and it's establishing skills challenges, NBA- and NHL-style, beyond the Home Run Derby. These would a) probably be much more fun than the game itself, and b) provide a more natural way for every team to have a player represented in some capacity, if not on the actual roster, which would, in turn, clear the way for the game to be a little more watchable and much less loaded with substitutions.
I...don't care. There are only so many topics about which a person can hold an impassioned opinion, and this simply isn't one of those topics for me. I understand the arguments in favor—it gives every fan base something to root for and someone to watch; it recognizes the achievements of someone who might go overlooked without the rule; it appeals to casual fans (a subset of the population the sport needs desperately right now) who may not know a great player from a team in another time zone, but know their own team's default starting lineup. I understand the arguments against—chiefly, that the All-Star Game should be about honoring the best players, full stop. Both sides have merit, but neither side is overwhelmingly in the right. So this is just one of those things for which I can't drum up any bold take, be it cold, lukewarm, or piping hot.
I do! The game is first and foremost a marketing event for MLB, and if the roster selection process would, absent this rule, result in, say, 21 or 22 teams having All-Stars, I don’t see any overwhelming purist’s case for denying those remaining teams and the league the opportunity to get everyone interested. (Is it a little weird for Sandy Alcantara, an average starter of essentially zero renown, to make an All-Star Game? Sure. But that’s a symptom of what’s wrong with the Marlins, not the disease itself.) Besides, the All-Star roster bloat is a byproduct of much more than the rule that every team must be represented. Wholesale changes to turn the game into a more competitive and star-oriented version of itself, those, I could get behind.
Absolutely. Every fan should have a reason to watch the game, and that's by far the most important argument. Especially since this game only exists for entertainment purposes now. End of story.
Yes! Overwhelmingly, yes. For teams with nothing going for them in the standings, marketing an All-Star to their fans still matters, especially now with a bunch of rebuilding teams looking toward the future. When a guy like Sandy Alcántra, a 23-year-old who was included in the Marcell Ozuna trade, is an All-Star, it generates a buzz that hasn't existed for Miami baseball since the Marlins shipped Ozuna, Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich. John Means is the silver lining on the otherwise dreadful Orioles pitching staff (though there's a legitimate All-Star case for Trey Mancini). Above all, the All-Star Game is a way to market baseball—all of baseball, including the bad teams.
It's hard to see why the MLB should exclude any team from the All-Star Game, especially in its current exhibition iteration. Kids should be able to watch their favorite players from their home town teams, even in the case of ballooning rosters to placate those who would otherwise miss out. A crankier sort would argue for an All-Star Game created through sheer meritocracy. But as long as the league office isn't using the July classic to determine home field advantage the answer is clear: Let (all) the kids play!
Why should every team have an All-Star? I’m not watching the game to see John Means pitch, and I can’t imagine any Orioles fan is going to be swayed to tune in for the minuscule chance that their lone representative will get into the game. The All-Star Game is about stars, not representation. Have the best play in it, not get snubbed because tanking teams can’t be bothered to field players good enough to make it there on their own.