The Midsummer Outset? Using The All-Star Selection Process To Muster Enthusiasm For MLB's July Opening
The Midsummer that is supposed to be used to describe the Classic that has always been the Major League Baseball All-Star Game will now have to be assigned to a different noun. Since Commissioner Rob Manfred has noted July 19 as the likely starting date of the 2020 season, we shall now refer to it the Midsummer Outset.
Its initials, M.O., certainly seem appropriate. The modus operandi has been greed for both the owners and the players association, which has throughout negotiations made fans feel that they have Missed Out.
Given the date of the proposed start of the season, baseball could use its traditional All-Star game to help lessen the apathy with which most fans will welcome the new Opening Day. Manfred and other officials should hold an internet only All-Star selection, allowing fans to vote for their favorite players at each position.
Not only would it generate some enthusiasm during the weeks leading up to mid-July, but it would also make fans more knowledgeable about the new configuration of the divisions. Both sides of the labor dispute have agreed that the traditional arrangement will not work amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, so teams will be assigned divisions based strictly on geography.
Most proposals have split the National and American League into East and West. Each would include three divisions with five teams, comprising something along the lines of Pacific, Atlantic and Midwest.
Having an All-Star selection process would familiarize fans with the new leagues, which might force them to decide between Chicago's Kris Bryant or Josh Donaldson of Minnesota. According to the traditional configuration of teams fans could vote for both, since the Cubs and Twins have been in different leagues.
In all likelihood there would not really be a game, which is really not that important. The actual contest has over the past twenty years become less important than activities around it, fun competitions like the home run derby and the voting process itself.
Should the league feel a game necessary, it could very well be done virtually. Viewers could watch Mike Trout swinging a bat from one city while Jacob deGromm delivers a virtual pitch from New York.
Whether the game takes place or not, the intent of the All-Star selection would be to generate some much needed excitement for a sport that has severely injured its image during the past few months. By waiting to announce the voter's choices until the season begins, more people might actually pay attention when the players do indeed return.