Embracing novelty

USA TODAY Sports

While the NL has been enjoying its 3 game-win streak, the Reds' All Stars have been trying to stay out of the way. The hometown delegation is currently zero for its last 10, dating back to 2010. Ever since Scott Rolen singled off Phil Hughes in the 7th inning that year, Votto, Phillips, Bruce and Rolen have all been 0-fer.

I don't suppose this really means anything, even in the ongoing, overblown discussion over the Reds wilting in the face of good competition. Besides, I enjoy the All Star Game for mere novelty and for when my favorite players don't get injured.

Even now that the game counts, you're probably not seeing maximum effort. Or at least not anything approaching post-season fervor. Players are out of context, out of routine, often facing pitchers they've never seen before and possibly as much enmeshed in the experience of being feted as the game itself.

Really, it's still strictly a novelty event. Which is fine. It never should aspire to be anything else.

Everyone is saying the game needs to be fixed. The Atlantic just decried its decline. While TV ratings always need to be put into historical context, I'm sure it's true that this thing isn't the draw it once was.

The reasons for this are said to include: free agency, inter-league play, increased regionalization of the sport, Bud Selig's meddling, decreased prestige through increased rosters, fan voting, general melding of the AL and NL and, I dunno, "New Media."

Grantland suggested six skill competitions to improve the game. NotGraphs did something about an Infield Fly competition that Joey Votto keeps losing. In that spirit, here are a few of my own ideas to improve All Star Week

  • A Managing Skills Competition, including a lineup card fill-out-off, double-switch-off, Argue-a-Call, Stifle Reaction to Pitcher Meltdown, High Five Line and Shower Throw Bats Into.
  • Mascot race meta-race: Pierogis vs. Presidents vs. the Reds' mascots vs, the field. I'm not thinking heats. Just line them all up and race en masse.
  • Slam dunk competition. People just want to see dunks. Use an 8ft hoop.
  • A hot dog eating contest. For charity?
  • A No-Star Game: round up the worst players that season and pay them bonuses to shame themselves.
  • Fan Open Game: One idea would be to have a team of amateurs play the No-Stars. If they win, they get to be a minor league affiliate for the rest of the season.

There's a couple of ways you could do the No-Stars game, which of course would never be allowed to happen.

Here's the NL No-Star lineup for this year using "regular" players (minimum 200 PAs, 60 IP starters, 20 IP relievers):

C Rob Brantly, Marlins
1B Yuniesky Betancourt, Brewers
2B Josh Rutledge, Rockies
SS Starlin Castro, Cubs
3B Placido Polanco, Marlins

LF Juan Pierre, Marlins
CF BJ Upton, Braves
RF Travis Snider, Pirates

SP Dan Haren, Nationals

CL Brandon League, Dodgers

You could also do a version with no minimums, but I was afraid who the catcher would be.

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