Being named an All-Star is, and should be, a great honor to any player. It’s a recognition that the player is one of the best at his position, and most of those who are selected get a chance to play to some degree. The baseball world appropriately stops to recognize those who make the game exciting that year.
But Major League Baseball has long had trouble figuring out how to make the All-Star Game relevant. The MLB isn’t the only league to face this difficulty. The NFL Pro Bowl is joked about every year. The fantasy format with “Team Rice” and “Team Sanders” was created this season in an effort to shake up the game and bring in more viewers.
The MLB originally took a very different tack — because many fans always felt a number of players not selected should have been included, a “Final Vote” was added for the last man on the roster. (The Final Vote was only needed because of another misguided, though well-meaning, policy the league has in place, which I’ll discuss below.)
After the 2002 All-Star Game, which ended in a 7-7 tie after 11 innings, Bud Selig felt he needed to take action to prevent it from happening again. He made one change, the consequences of which continue today: stating that “this game matters,” Selig pronounced it would be the determinant of which league hosted the World Series.