Subtitle: You can’t tell me to stop writing, Hacksaw.
In this Hotcake Hot Takes, we’ll examine a few ways the All Star Game could use some sprucing up…and yes, we’ll gripe a bit more on why there weren’t more Padres.
Padres fans will be the first to tell you that this year’s All Star Game was one worth missing. With the exclusion of ever-electric shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and Home Run Derby-capable Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes, there were few reasons for San Diego to tune in save for one player capable of a save in Kirby Yates. Insult was added to exclusion when Kirby wouldn’t even feature in the marquee game despite Dave Roberts saying postscript the MLB save leader would have gone in the 9th inning.
A day after Forbes tells us there’s nothing wrong with the All Star Game still leaves a feeling as if…there’s something wrong with the All Star Game. Last night’s showing ranked as low as it did in 2017. Even with the point being made that All Star Games just aren’t as big a draw as they used to be, there is something that can be done to make the weeklong break more enjoyable for baseball fans.
More events? More events.
No, we don’t need more Celebrity Softball Games. I’m not talking about replacing the Home Run Derby or Futures Game, either. We need more of the skill-based competitions featured across the Pacific in the KBO and NPB. Let’s dig into what could really make a weeklong break in baseball well…fun:
I’ve already seen complaints about this one. “I wouldn’t watch a bunting contest”, “Never bunt, hit dingers”. Since many of these comments come from the same people who enjoy golf it’s of some surprise that a bunting contest in the same vein as the KBO offering wouldn’t be fun to watch.
There could even be a golf-like variant where the bunter has to make it into a hole in the infield…or even a bowling version. There’s options out there to make this interesting.
Check out this video on the bunt contest and tell me you wouldn’t catch an afternoon of this.
Another import from Korea is the “Perfect Pitcher” contest in which a pitcher has to throw baseballs to knock down 7 spaced-out bats standing upright across home plate on a platform.
While this version may not be as action-packed, I have an idea for a different take. A 3×3 grid of clay pigeons are arranged akin to a strike zone above home plate. Pitchers then have a set amount of time or pitches (30 seconds or 10 pitches) to hit every segment of the strike zone. Could be interesting, no?
Skip to 1:40 of this video if you want to see the Korean version. I’d still watch it.
Bat Control Contest (or, the Tony Gwynn contest)
I cooked up this particular contest thinking of the greatest hitter: Tony Gwynn. Instead of the typical Home Run Derby tact of “mash, mash, mash” this contest would require finesse and bat skills.
Simply put, a “rainbow” scoreboard is arranged on the inner portion of the outfield and spreads toward the wall. Each section of the outfield is awarded a score based on where the ball is hit. A soft liner on the pull side would be 1 point, say. A hard drive to the alley on the push side would be a whopping 3 points. Dinger? No points. Infield hit? Nope. This is all about putting the ball in play and into those alleys where opposing players wouldn’t be. The “rainbow” scoreboard could also vary from park to park based on those spots where you want to put the baseball.
I admit this would be a harder sell than most (hell, these are all hard sells). For baseball hitting purists, however, this would be a must-watch.
Pitcher Home Run Derby
Since the Home Run Derby is already an established thing, why not milk the hell out of the #PitchersWhoRake tag and just give them their own Home Run Derby? Make it the warm-up to the main event. It would totally work.
This is one of the more obscure contests that could still be neat for catchers to showcase their stuff. This contest would involve a catcher taking a pitch (from a machine, say) and popping up to make the throw to 2nd base. Based on the pop-up time and location of the throw, the catcher would receive a score. Good pop-up time and a throw where the 2nd baseman has to work? Not as good a score as the catcher who threw a laser right into the glove waiting for the tag.
Nuance-heavy, sure…but it’s another idea to try and spice up the ASG.
What do you think? Would you want to see any of the above added to the All Star Game mix?