All-star games suck. The fans know it. The leagues know it. The players know it. Everyone knows it. It's not a secret. The Pro Bowl has gotten so bad that the NFL thought about scrapping the game. The NBA doesn't even pretend to be competitive in its All-Star Game.
Major League Baseball deserves a little credit for trying to do something about it. As last year proved, when roughly 20 percent of the guys selected found a way to back out, the incentive of home field advantage in the World Series is not enough. That is why the league decided to do something about it when it negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement last year.
The league will be taking attendance.
A "mandatory participation" rule was included in the CBA. Basically, what it amounts to is that a player--if selected--will play in the All-Star game unless he has an approved excuse. Approved reasons include being on the DL, getting hurt in the last two games prior to the All-Star break, or not playing in those games. Pitchers are no longer excused if they started on the Sunday prior to the game.
Players can ask to be excused, but it appears that unless a player has a clear cut injury he is going to have a hard time getting approved.
As much as some of the players will complain, this is good for the game. Being named an all-star might pad their paycheck, but not playing in the game degrades what being an all-star means not to mention the damage all-stars not playing does to the integrity of the game.
All-star games allow us to imagine what it would be like if the best of the best faced off. They allow us to see how good someone really is if surrounded by like talent. However, if that is going to work we need the actual all-stars in the game, which it looks like we'll have a lot more of now.
No more mid-season vacations guys. It's time to play ball. The 2012 edition of the Mid-Summer Classic will be played at Kauffman Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Royals, on July 10.