2011 MLB All-Star Game: The Greatest Exhibition in Sports

Derek Jeter was selected to his 12th All-Star game in 2011, voted by the fans as a starter. Jeter is batting .270 with a .330 on-base percentage. He's slugged three home runs and accumulated only 17 extra base hits thus far this season. His paltry stats, paired with his election has an All-Star game starter has led many to lash out against the exhibition, deeming it meaningless and simply—an exhibition.

Supplementing this belief are the 10 players (five of them starters) not participating in the All-Star game due to "injury " (many of whom are not found on their team's disabled list),  another six pitchers are not participating due to their "ineligibility to pitch."  Still, fans have the honor of electing those players they would like to see play in the Mid-Summer Classic.

How can the All-Star game be meaningless though, with so much at stake? After all it was decided, beginning in 2003, that the winning league of the All-Star game would receive home-field advantage in the World Series.

The game is also for the players. It is a great award for many of them to be a participant in the All-Star game. Yes, there are those eluded to earlier who have opted to forgo the All-Star game and instead rest themselves and prepare for the remaining stretch of games left in the season. However, for every Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Jose Reyes or Ryan Braun, there is an Aaron Crow or Jordan Walden—first-time All-Stars in their rookie seasons.

The MLB All-Star game has the unfortunate task of serving all these purposes: It is an exhibition for the fans, an accolade for the players and a vital part of the season's final act. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports has stated, "there is no worse rule in baseball" than the game's determination of World Series home-field advantage. However, it is this rule and the All-Star game's multiplicity that makes it the greatest exhibition in sports.

More then anything, fans want to see a competitive game. Fans have a heavy investment in seeing the greatest players participate in a game that—matters. However, in order for the game to be competitive it has to matter to the players. What better way to motivate players then to make the All-Star game be a factor in the World Series (Monetary bonuses to the winners, OF COURSE!)? Making the All-Star game matter is in the best interest of both the fans and Major League Baseball. The fans get an exciting "exhibition" and MLB subsequently receives their fans' interest on July 12th 2011. It also ensures the debacle of 2002 never happens again, eh?

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