Roger Goodell, the National Football League’s ferocious commissioner, made more enemies than he did friends when he recently talked about abolishing the NFL’s Pro Bowl.
Goodell suggested riding the NFL’s version of the All-Star game because he is not entirely satisfied with the quality of play at the Pro Bowl, which is held annually in Honolulu except in 2010 when the game was held at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.
Instead of the best of the best going out and competing against each other at their optimum level, the Pro Bowlers forget to take off their hula skirts when they take the field.
Like so many football fans, Goodell believes if you’re a Pro Bowler than you should play like one, and not just sit back and enjoy the Hawaiian vacation.
The result of Pro Bowlers not giving it their all is that you get outrageous scores like this year’s Pro Bowl, which the NFC won 62-35.
While Goodell publicly stated the NFL made strides in improving the quality of the game in this year’s Pro Bowl, it may be too little too late.
The Pro Bowl is the equivalent to Major League Baseball’s All-Star game.
The purpose of these games is to recognize and honor those players who are deemed the best in the league.
Anyway, that’s enough about the Pro Bowl!
I am not here to bag on the Pro Bowl or even endorse it. I’m here to talk about a flaw to Major League Baseball’s All-Star game.
For all the qualms the Pro Bowl gets by the commissioner and die-hard football fans, I must say the NFL has one thing right. The Pro Bowl is always held at the end of the football season, more recently the week before the Super Bowl.
The NFL has it right. The Pro Bowl should be played at season’s end.
Major League Baseball on the other hand, has the Mid-Summer Classic in the middle of the season.
I am one to believe the All-Star game should follow suit and be played at the end of the season or a few days before the World Series.
Let me explain.
Sep 10, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley (7) during a first inning at bat against the St. Louis Cardinals at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Chase Headley had the best year of his career, yet was snubbed from the 2012 All-Star game. His snubbing has nothing to do with the fans’vote, it has everything to do with the defiance of having the All-Star game in the middle of the season as opposed to the end.
Here is my reasoning:
How can you tell me that San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval was the National League’s starting third baseman, when Headley statistically had the better year?
Sandoval finished out the year batting .283 with 12 home runs and 63 RBIs. While Headley had a breakout year, hitting .286 with 31 home runs and was the National League’s RBI leader with 115. Not to mention, Headley had a better OBP, slugging percentage and OPS than the Kung Fu Panda.
Oh yeah, Headley also finished fifth in the NL MVP voting, won the Silver Slugger at third base, won back-to-back player of the month honors for August and September. Not only was he having a great offensive year, he was the best defensive fielding third baseman in the league, securing his first Gold Glove. The only title that is missing is All-Star Chase Headley.
Based on those stats alone and accomplishments, who is your All-Star, Sandoval or Headley? I don’t know about you, but to me all of Headley’s accomplishments sound All-Star worthy.
Sure, the Padres didn’t make it to the playoffs and all Sandoval did was play for the World Champion Giants and was named World Series MVP. You can also add to the fact that San Francisco is in a bigger media market than San Diego, therefore Sandoval might have gotten more exposure or love but there is no way he should’ve beaten out Headley for an All-Star spot or the starting gig at that.
Here is where my All-Star issue comes into play. While it is clear Headley should have been an All-Star, he wasn’t. And why wasn’t he? Because Sandoval had a better batting average than Headley during a half of the season and nothing more.
In the first half, Sandoval posted a .307 batting average with eight home runs and 30 RBIs, compared to Headley’s first half statistics of a .267 average with eight home runs and 42 RBIs. Other than the batting average category, Headley still out produced Sandoval.
This is not to take anything away from Sandoval because he is a damn good player. I am just trying to make a point.
To make the Giants’ fans happy, I’ll finally stop picking on your beloved third baseman.
Let’s now move to the backup All-Star third baseman.
Hell, if Sandoval beat out Headley for the starting spot then I’d for a fact Headley had a better year than Mets third baseman David Wright, who was the reserve third baseman for the National League’s All-Star team.
Wright is another beast of a player, but last year Headley outdid him.
Oct 1, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets third baseman David Wright (5) at bat against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Wright had a solid year. In the first half, it looked as if he was going to make a serious run at batting .400, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 1936, when Ted Williams batted .416.
The six time-All Star fell short on his quest of .400 but did manage to end his season with a .306 average with 21 home runs and 93 RBIs.
Again, let’s stack Headley’s .286 average, 31 home runs and 115 RBIs against Wright’s stats.
Now who is your back up All-Star third baseman? Headley or Wright? I rest my case.
Although, Wright did have a better first half than Headley, Wright batted .351 with 11 home runs and 59 RBIs. Wright’s first half couldn’t save him from Headley’s breaout year.
If Headley couldn’t have made the squad as a starter, he should have made the All-Star team as a reserve, at the very least.
This is why I believe the All-Star game should be played at the end of the year and not during the season because an All-Star to me is someone who is able to show they were the best player at their position for an entire year not just in the months of April, May and June.
Time and time again we see a baseball player start off hot, get named to the All-Star game, only for their numbers to tank in the second half of the season.
Sure, the player had a great first half and probably a well deserved All-Star bid at that point, but when he got into the dogs days of summer, when the team needed him the most he fell face first.
Others like Headley rise to the occasion.
The All-Star game should be called the “Stars of the First Half” game. That’s all it really is.
Heck, Huston Street was the lone representative for the Padres, and although I love Street, Headley should have represented the Friars not Street.
If we look at Street’s whole season it was pretty good but clearly not his best or the best in the National League. Street was injured for the majority of the first half, yet still managed to go 2-1 with 23 saves.
I know I am going a little to the extreme here but I have to in order for my point to get across. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America doesn’t elect players into the Hall Of Fame for what they did their first five years in their career. Those players are elected into the Hall because of what they did their entire career.
This is the way the All-Star teams should be decided. Don’t reward players based on what they did during their first four months of the season. Honor them for what they were able to produce the whole year.
The All-Star break is a vital part of the game. It gives players a few days to rest and get ready to grind out the second half of the season. Thus, interfering with the All-Star break may be the reason to not moving the All-Star game to the end of season. Having the All-Star game at the end of the season won’t disrupt the All-Star break. The players could have a three, four-day break like they do now at the middle of the season, except just call it a break and not the All-Star break.
Yes, we have will suffer without baseball for three or four days but it’s worth it to fix the system.
I know what you’re thinking, “What about playing the All-Star game for home field advantage?” The All-Star game can still be played to determine which league will get home field advantage for the World Series; however, the date the game is played will just simply change. Home field advantage should be determined in October not July.
If MLB wants to fix the system entirely they would be wise to move the game all together.