Changes to the All-Star Game & little things you may not know

Okay, today is the last day to vote for the fan-voting section of the All-Star Game. Your chance to select the starting roster for the All-Star Game. You can vote up to 35 times per email until 11:59 pm EST. Vote as often as you’d like. Results of this vote will be revealed on Sunday. The rest of the roster will be revealed on Monday.

Now, you may be wondering how an All-Star Roster comes together and what all that means. There are a total of 34 selected players per league (34 on the AL roster, 34 on the NL) for a grand total of 68 players (from the 750 active players), at least 1 represented from each of the 30 teams across the league. Your fan vote only selects 17 of those 68 players — 8 position players and the AL designated hitter. The NL manager will select a DH for his roster from the rest of his roster, as NL teams don’t have a regular DH for fans to choose from in their voting process.

The player vote composes of the back-up players (for each of the fan-selected starters) and 8 pitchers for each team. Then the rest of the roster is filled out by the managers — 7 for the AL (5 pitchers, 2 position players) and 9 for the NL (5 pitchers, 4 position players including the 2 DH). Then there’s one more fan vote because if you’re doing the math, we’re only up to 33 players per team. That final vote will be just before the ASG, where 5 finalists from each league (selected by the ASG managers and the Commissioner’s Office) will petition fans to vote for a last-minute ticket to Cincinnati.

And then there’s 68 players to play the All-Star Game in “Queen City” in just 12 days.

And if I’ve already lost you, I’m sorry. It wasn’t easy sorting through all the information and articles to boil it down to just 2 paragraphs. When you start adding more “cooks in the kitchen” when it comes to selecting those 68 players, the more complicated it can get. Be prepared; once the first 33 are announced, we’ll be asking for your vote once again for that finalist. (And you thought voting season wasn’t until next November…)

Also, the Home Run Derby that takes place on Monday, July 13 (the day before the ASG). They haven’t announced which 8 players (4 from the AL, 4 from the NL) will be participating in this year’s event, but they have altered the format a bit. Well, a lot.

Old HR Derby format: Two selected “captains” (usually previous HR Derby winners) to fill out the rest of their team as they’d like. And then, on the day, it was an alternating format for the first round (last year’s winner/captain goes last, the opposing league’s captain goes just before him, and alternating between the leagues accordingly); they can take as much time as they’d like to hit as many home runs as they can until the batter has 10 “outs”, as each ball hit that isn’t home run is considered an “out”. The two lowest in each league were eliminated, and then it went to rounds 2 and 3 until there was just 2 players left (one from each league) to compete for the title.

New HR Derby format: The top 8 players will be selected based on the number of home runs hit this season alone until July 7. (Tie-breakers are based on the leaders as of June 15, and then a coin flip.) Those players will fill into a bracket format (like the NCAA basketball playoffs), with the one with the more home runs batting second in each pairing. Then on the day, the batter has just 5 minutes per round, with the timer only going from the moment of the first pitch until a home run is hit, but the timer will continue through missed pitches and missed home runs. If a home run is hit, bonus time is added to the timer based on distance hit (and honestly, this makes no sense to me, so I’m waiting to see this in action because the press release description is lacking some details). And the batter with the most home runs in each pairing advances to the next round until a champion is determined.

And since I’m not a sports reporter but a blogger, I can state my opinion. I like change, but I think sometimes people enacting the change take it a step too far. I like the idea of picking the players with the most home runs in the season. It would certainly eliminate some recent “issues” (read: why the Royals still hate Cano). But adding the timer issue just seems to remove the easy-pace of the game. And now, does this affect the “bonus ball” thing from the sponsors? I’m not a huge fan of the clock in baseball already (though I understand the concept of not dawdling, which is just as annoying off the field as on the field), and adding it to a really fun event seems almost defeating the purpose to me. But like I said before, I’m going to need to see this in action to really form my full opinion on it.

Okay, and if you’re wondering (because I was) who would be considered the top 8, I’ve got the answers as of today. (However, I’m not exactly sure if they are selecting 4 from each league or the top 8 overall, so I’ve included both.) The top 4 in the AL are Pujols (Angels, 24), JD Martinez (Tigers, 21), Trout (Angels, 21), and Cruz (Mariners, 20); and the top 4 from the NL are Stanton (Marlins, 27), Frazier (Reds, 25), Arendo (Rockies, 24), and Harper (Nationals, 24). However, there are some issues — Stanton is out until late July recovering from surgery on his broken hand, which opens the door to the next spot which is a tie between Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks, 20) and Pederson (Dodgers, 20). And if there’s an issue with any AL players, the next spot is also occupied with a tie between Donaldson (Blue Jays, 19), Valbuena (Astros, 19), and Mark Teixeira (Yankees, 19). If they select the top 8 overall, those are Stanton (despite the injury); Frazier (last year’s winner, by the way); Arendo, Harper, and Pujols; JD Martinez and Trout; and then for the final selection (or selections with Stanton’s injury) a tie between Cruz, Goldschmidt, and Pederson.

But all those numbers are super tight (except for Stanton’s), which means that between now and Tuesday, all of those names could change. Behind those like Teixeira (with 19 home runs) are 11 players with 15-18 home runs (including Alex Rodriguez at 15), which are easily within striking distance over the weekend on a big hitting streak.

I can’t help but feel we’ve kind of lost the whole point of the All-Star Game. Maybe it’s still a lot of fun for the players. But for those of us not on the field, it’s really not. Even when you’re in the city where the ASG is playing, the fan opportunities aren’t really as inviting or fan-friendly as I think they’re intended to be. And it’s not like your everyday fan is going to the game, with third-party tickets selling ranging from $384 to $8,160 per ticket. What was intended to be a great exhibition game for the fans to see their favorite players in action seems rather lost in the shuffle of … well, everything else. Has the game lost its way? (Hmm, I’m sensing a future post… stay tuned!)

Go Yankees!

 

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