Last week MLB announced four changes to the All-Star Game, two of which are long overdue. The Midsummer Classic will use the DH rule every year, and not just when the game is in an American League park, as it will be on July 13 at Angel Stadium. With pitchers almost never batting anyway, the lack of a DH served no purpose other than to complicate scorekeeping. Another change bars from participation pitchers who have been tabbed as All-Stars but who start games on the Sunday before the game. This takes pressure off managers put in the awkward spot of handling competitors' prized assets.
The other changes, however, continue the ongoing process of turning the Midsummer Classic into a company-picnic softball game. All-Star rosters have been expanded to 34, including an absurd 13 spots for pitchers. This will only exacerbate the All-Star Game's biggest problem: the diminished participation by the game's greatest players, a trend that dates back a half century. Just 32 players played in the 1958 All-Star Game, 12 of whom went the distance. Last year only three starters—out of the 16 players the fans voted to see—played past the sixth inning. The final change, which permits each manager to designate a position player to return to the game if necessary, will make it even more likely that the skippers will work to get everyone in.
What the All-Star Game needs isn't more players, but fewer. The game's brightest stars should stay on the field longer, and if that means the designated Pirate or Royal or Athletic doesn't get in, well, it's an honor to be selected.
LENNY IGNELZI/AP (HUDSON)
LESS STAR POWER In '09 sub Orlando Hudson (above) hit for NL starter Chase Utley—in the sixth.
AL TIELEMANS (UTLEY)
[See caption above]