MLB should move back the All-Star Game
A few years back, MLB instituted a rule that said starting pitchers who throw on Sunday are ineligible to play in the game and will be replaced on their respective rosters; ostensibly, this move was made both to protect hurlers from throwing on one day of rest while also giving extra players the All-Star Game experience. In reality though, what it also did was "punish" players for doing their jobs.
Think of it in this regard: Basically, MLB is saying because you worked Sunday, you can't work Tuesday. Would that logic fly in any other arena? For instance, what if, say, your boss told you that because you were the last one from your group in on Friday, you could go to that weekend's company picnic but couldn't eat the food or participate in the games?
Ludicrous, right? Sure, but that's exactly what MLB is doing, in a sense.
Now, in this case, for some, it may not be a big deal; after all, three of the four pitchers this season who were bounced from the game (Bartolo Colon, Justin Verlander and Adam Wainwright) are multiple-time All-Stars who, even if never selected again, have all pitched in a midsummer classic. But can anyone guarantee the same for first-timer Hisashi Iwakuma, who at 32 may not have many chances left?
Sure, just being an All-Star is cool, but, as much as it was "an honor to be nominated" for me when YESNetwork.com was up for a major CableFAX Best of the Web award in 2012, it was an honor made much better because we won said award. I realize that not every player makes it into the game, but at least the Justin Mastersons and Chris Tillmans of the world had the chance that Iwakuma didn't.
As for MLB's ability to say they are giving extra players the All-Star experience, I say at what point does oversaturation set in and that "All-Star" designation become less meaningful? In the NFL, the Pro Bowl is already viewed as somewhat of a sham, as sometimes fifth and sixth string picks end up in the game because players pull out. Although, unlike MLB, the NFL's game doesn't determine anything, let alone home-field advantage in the World Series.
For Greg Holland, who replaced Iwakuma on the roster and pitched to two batters, it was likely an awesome experience and one he wouldn't have gotten if not for the rule - but with home-field advantage on the line, had Holland surrendered the slim lead the AL held at the time, fans in Detroit, Oakland, Boston or elsewhere likely would've cursed his name if their team had to play Game 7 of the World Series on the road because of a mistake made months earlier by a replacement pitcher from a sub-.500 team.
Bottom line, because the game has such importance, once the fan vote is in and every team has a representative (rules which will likely never change), there should be nothing else other than injury that renders anyone ineligible to play.
Luckily, MLB has a simple solution, that being to simply shift the calendar 24 hours.
This year, there were no games on the Thursday following the All-Star Game, meaning two full days off after the event. So, if the events were re-jiggered and All-Star Week saw everything moved back a day, you'd have a potential two-fold positive effect: Everyone would be eligible to participate (because starters who threw Sunday would have two days of rest, meaning they're likely on their "throw day" anyway), and the Futures Game could stand alone on Monday, meaning more eyes could be on that game and those budding stars than there are when its competing against MLB's own product on Sunday afternoon.
The Futures Game would then have undivided attention as would Tuesday's Home Run Derby and Wednesday's game; Thursday could still be an off-day for those who played, everyone else gets their four days off and no one has to worry about a situation like one that happened in the International League this week where many of their top players missed or were late for their first games after the Triple-A All-Star break because they had less than 24 hours to fly back from Reno.
Sounds like a win/win for everyone, no?