PRESENTED BY 953440453_mcdonaldsclubhouse_stb

Point: The All-Star Game should count

Last year's Mets all-stars - Jamie Squire

Putting World Series home field advantage on the line is an important part of keeping the Mid-Summer Classic relevant and growing the game of baseball.

For the health of the game, baseball needs to leverage its major stars. Nothing does that better than high-profile events like the All-Star Game, which, thanks to baseball's relative lack of physical contact, is often played at an extremely high level and does a fine job of showcasing the best of the sport.

Sure, TV ratings aren't great and seem to be in regular decline. But that's true of everything on television, sports and otherwise, except for the NFL. What baseball needs is a national stage to create buzz for its best players beyond the broadcast. Thanks in part to the huge number of games, baseball fans tend to focus exclusively on their own team, which hinders the ability to sell the game broadly. I'm a big baseball fan, an MLB.tv subscriber, and regular MLB Network viewer, but I've only seen Mike Trout hit live a handful of times. The All-Star Game puts great players on a national stage, opening their play up for even casual fans to enjoy.

The bigger that MLB can make the All-Star Game, the better. An important part of making the game more of an event and ensuring its long-term relevancy is raising the stakes beyond just pride. There hasn't been a rivalry between the leagues since the Nixon administration. That is why putting home field advantage on the line is a great thing for baseball. It makes an important asset more of an event and ensures its survival long term.

After the 2002 game ended in an embarrassing 11-inning tie, a lot of ink was spilled asking whether a once beloved institution had outlived its usefulness. Today, the game is more relevant than ever and the mini-controversy over the home-field set up even manages to break through ESPN's steady coverage of NBA free agency and next season's NFL schedule. That's a good thing.

Granted, the system seems pretty arbitrary. But consider the alternatives.

From 1924 through 2002, home field advantage alternated between the leagues, the very definition of arbitrary. Many have suggested that the team with the better overall record should be awarded home field. But as long as the leagues operate under different rules and without a balanced schedule that is far from perfectly logical. Perhaps the most logical solution is to award home field to the team that emerges from the league with the better record in interleague play. But that, like the other suggestions, is not only flawed but completely dull.

Home field is a relatively minor advantage. Why not get some mileage out of it to help promote one of baseball's marquee events?

Yes, there is more to do to update the All-Star Game. The rosters should be cut to make selection more exclusive. The game's most exciting stars should have a spot. And, although pitch counts should be limited, the game should be played and managed to win, not to ensure nearly everyone gets playing time.

The All-Star Game is a great part of baseball's past. Putting something on the line is an important element to ensuring that it remains a vital part of its future.
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