All-Star Week Should Promote America’s Pastime Around Country
Mike B. | On 14, Jul 2014
It’s All-Star week and beginning Sunday afternoon, Major League Baseball’s best is on display for the world to see.
The most highly touted prospects, including Indians Francisco Lindor, play in the Sirius XM Future’s Game on Sunday afternoon, followed by Home Run Derby, highlighting several individual stars of today, and the crown jewel the All-Star Game on Tuesday night. With the NFL, NBA and NHL all out of season, it truly is Major League Baseball’s chance to highlight their best on a national and world stage.
But what if Major League Baseball could do even more to highlight their game this week?
The NHL may have started the trend of highlighting their sport with the New Year’s Day, Winter Classic. Usually two strong teams match up outdoors, often in a Major League Baseball stadium. Ticket sales are through the roof and it’s the highest rated television numbers and attendance for the hockey season. In recent years, the NBA has taken control of Christmas day, highlighting up to 10 of their teams. The NFL may be the league that does the best at highlighting their marquee teams with weekly Thursday night, Sunday night and Monday night games. The Super Bowl, probably the crown jewel of American sports, has two weeks of hype and is watched around the world.
Major League Baseball seems to be behind in the times in highlighting their game. The last couple seasons America’s Pastime has opened their regular season on foreign soil. Several times, including two years ago, the MLB season has kicked off in Japan. This spring the season opened with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia. Commissioner Bud Selig has promised to take the game somewhere that will surprise people in 2015. But those Opening Series games are on in the middle of the night for Americans, the biggest baseball fans in the world, to enjoy.
How about surprise people by playing America’s game in a unique location in America?
The All-Star break has now become a four-day stretch, with no big league clubs playing until Friday. Until just a few years ago the MLB season picked back up on Thursday, not Friday. Now that the break has been extended, and the sports scene is rather quiet after the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, why not use it to MLB’s advantage and play one game Thursday night, in a non-traditional, American venue, complete with national television and unique scenery?
Our country has several locations for a one-time, Major League Baseball game. What if Thursday night MLB kicked off the season with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals playing a game at the Field of Dreams in Iowa to commemorate the 25 years since the release of Field of Dreams? The Midwest is a rivalry ground for the two franchises and a unique venue would fill seats for fans who often make long voyages to one of the cities for a weekend of baseball.
The national pastime has a baseball field at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Kick off the second half of the season and tie into the Hall of Fame inductions at the end of the month with a game at the Hall of Fame. This year the Atlanta Braves and Chicago White Sox could match-up with this summer’s inductees, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas on hand to be honored as a precursor to their induction.
Even Alaska has baseball—and in the summer, 60 degrees and daylight for 23 hours—MLB could match up the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays, surrounded by Alaskan mountains as backdrop to open the second half. A unique venue would likely drive fans of both teams to travel to the site to see their team play this once-in-a-lifetime game.
Baseball could even be very non-traditional and create baseball fields where there currently are not. New York City’s Central Park has held major concerts, why not match up the Yankees and Mets, or play the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals on the Mall of America? Our country puts millions of Americans on the mall for a Presidential Inauguration, but we can’t construct a baseball field and bleachers for a baseball game with Capitol building and Abraham Lincoln in the backdrop?
Interleague play has lost it’s luster and several matchups have little appeal any longer, but the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals at Mount Rushmore could draw better than their normal attendance. The same goes for a Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks matchup from the Grand Canyon.
The unique venue game would incorporate several things baseball needs and likes, a national and global stage to continue to highlight their game this week while the other sports sit idle and money. Each venue would have a uniqueness and with unique comes a high-dollar ticket. It’s likely places like the Hall of Fame, Field of Dreams, Alaska or non-traditional baseball fields would only be able to hold five to ten thousand fans, making it a tough ticket to score.
Before the world of the Internet, satellite dishes and every game being broadcast anywhere in the world you want it, MLB used to have the Game of the Week. They still do, but it’s certainly lost it’s luster. This week should be MLB on stage for the country and the world to see. The Commissioner doesn’t have to take the game around the globe to put it on a stage.
Just take America’s Game to America for a night.