Monday, July 9, 2012

Replace the All-Star Game with a Tournament

When I was a kid, I loved baseball. I rooted for teams like the Cincinnati Reds and the Chicago Cubs.  My interest waned as I became an adult, and the 1994 strike did not help.  My interest was renewed a decade ago when I started playing fantasy baseball.

So, I know the Washington Nationals are having a great season, and that Tim Lincecum has lost his ability to pitch this season.  But I have had little interest in the All-Star Game for a long time.  Here in the 21st century, I think it is time to think outside of the batter's box, and re-boot All-Star Week.  Let's have a tournament!

Here's how it could work:

Last week in June:  Seed all 30 teams in an NCAA-like tournament, based on current W-L records, ignoring leagues.  The two World Series teams from the previous year get byes in the first round.  Have a "Tournament Selection" show, with ESPN analysts predicting who will win the tournament.  CBS, Yahoo, etc. can have bracket contests just like in March.

This year, using June 29 standings, the seedings would look like this:

1    STL        TEX         NYY        WAS   
2    CIN        BAL         LAA        SF
3    LAD        CHW       PIT        NYM
4    ARI        ATL         BOS        TB
5    TOR        CLE        DET        OAK
6    MIL        PHI         KC           MIA
7    SEA        HOU       MIN        COL
8     ---            ---        CHC        SD

Here's an idea for a schedule:

July 4:  First round (14 games) held at the stadiums of the higher seeds.  Games start at Noon on the East Coast and move west.

This year, it would be (8) CHC at (1) NYY, (8) SD at (1) WAS, (7) SEA at (2) CIN, (7) HOU at (2) BAL, etc ...

July 5-6:  Regionals -- second and third rounds.  Held in big cities, such as Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles.

July 7:  The Fast Ball Four -- Yankee Stadium day-night doubleheader

July 8:  Midsummer Tournament Championship -- Yankee Stadium -- winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series.  Players on the winning team get $1 million each.

So, each team plays at least one game, and two teams play five games.

Yes, we'd have to worry about rainouts, etc.  But it sure would be more interesting than the current model.

Alternative idea:  Get rid of All-Star Week, end the season a week earlier, use that week for a play-in tournament of 24 non-division champions to determine the wild card teams.  Now that would get some attention.

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