The Windup (cont.)
From the Mailbag
This year's All-Star Game makes it quite clear that this game should be played on a Saturday or a Sunday with an earlier starting time. Almost everyone has to work the next day and children, the future players and fans, can't and shouldn't stay up that late, even in the summer, to see how the game turns out.
Love the argument, Jeffrey, and agree largely with the sentiments. But, in reality, more people saw this game -- more than last year, by the way -- precisely because it was on when it was: prime time. Everybody's home and worn out from a long day at play/work, and they're vegging in front of the tube. It wouldn't have pulled nearly that audience on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
My beef -is that baseball always does something to slow things down. The pregame ceremony was great, but it was waaaay too long. The game didn't start until 8:45 ET. Officials pulled Sarah Jessica Parker out to make a pitch for a charitable cause in the middle of the game, which dragged things on longer. The fact is, there's no reason these telecasts can't be done in less than four hours, with pregame and everything (unless, of course, we go 15 innings).
Start it at 7 ET, end at midnight at the latest. People on the West Coast might miss the pregame and maybe an inning or two, but they'd see the bulk of the game and everyone, hopefully, would see the ending. And if that means the game makes less in advertising revenue ... well, I'm with you, Jeffrey. The powers that be can just file that expense under developmental costs.
Why aren't the Twins getting any respect? They've successfully produced enough youngsters on the field and in the rotation to compete and they are on a hot streak. Can you please explain?
Nope, can't explain, Alex. Other than we in the sportswriting biz are a little slow on the uptake sometimes. But we'll get there. (That, in the biz, is known as a tease. Stick around this week ...)
I hope that as a result of this game, people will finally stop giving Bud Selig crap for ending the 2002 All-Star Game. Regardless of whatever artificial importance MLB tries to give it, the game is still an exhibition, and players shouldn't be put in danger for it. Brandon Webb and Scott Kazmir had no business being in that game, and I just hope that neither comes down with arm problems in the second half.
One potential solution would be naming replacements for pitchers who started in the three days prior to the game. I would also favor a 12-inning limit, and give home field advantage to the World Series participant with the best regular season record.
Hey, J.D. Agreed. The truth of the matter is this: Unless Bud & Co. up the rosters to 50, or modify the rules somewhat, there is always a danger of this happening. Yeah, a 15-inning game is rare. But All-Star Games, supposedly, involve two evenly matched teams. MLB would be well-advised to be better prepared for the next marathon, 'cause it could come sooner than anyone thinks.
Here's a thought on how to fix the All-Star pitching problem in case of extra innings. Each manager would get to chose one starter or long reliever not already named to the team that can only be used once the bullpens are exhausted in extra innings. And they must be pitching on at least three days rest.
Yeah, Nick, unless the game goes 22 innings. Hey, it could happen.
I find it weird that the All-Star teams play the last innings (and the extra innings) always with the less-talented batters. If I'm Clint Hurdle, I choose four players for their combination of bats-defense (say Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones, Lance Berkman and Chase Utley) and don't change them all game. Reserves of those positions would only play one AB. What do you think?
I was talking about this with a couple of colleagues during the game. It is weird that these things are often decided by reserves. Doesn't mean the reserves are lessers (they are All-Stars), or less-talented, considering that the starters are often not selected on merit, but on popularity. But it is strange. I'm all for keeping starters, both pitchers and position players, in longer. But that has to remain a manager's decision, and right now the managers are somewhat handcuffed by an unofficial mandate to get as many players into the game as possible.
As you can tell from my hometown, I'm reading your article on the NL Central race through red-tinted glasses. And I'll admit, on paper there is no way the Cardinals should finish ahead of either the Cubs or Brewers. I'll even admit that if you told me in March we'd be 11 games over .500 on July 18, I would have been ecstatic. That all being said, you'll excuse me if I'm inclined to disagree with your prediction. This team is full of surprises. And, well, your Cardinal projections have been a little off this year already.
I know, John, I know. Yes, back in March, I went out on a rotten limb and predicted that the Cardinals would have the worst record in the league. I also saw a great year for Erik Bedard, which should tell you something about my prognosticating abilities. Clearly, though, I whiffed the worst on the Cards. Here's what I think now: I wouldn't be surprised if they folded in the next month or so. I'm not rooting for it. It would be a much better story if they hung around. And I love a good story. But everything seems so stacked against them. With all that out, I also now say this: I won't be surprised if they're there to the bitter end, either. I've learned my lesson.