Should they have to play?
The MLB All-Star Game takes place every July and features the biggest names in the sport. Pinning them in a series of events culminating with the All-Star Game. The MLB All-Star Game is the only one of the four major sports that has any bearing on the postseason with the winner having home field advantage in the World Series. So when players choose not to compete it could have ramifications on the playoffs.
Many players, for various reason, have decided not to compete in the All-Star game and the activities that surround it. For instance, any pitcher who starts the last game before the ASG and is voted onto the team can not play in the game. I for one am a fan of this rule. A pitchers arm is comparable to a crystal bowl in that when it is functioning the right way and undamaged it is an amazing sight to see, but the smallest defect in it can ruin even the most pristine arm.
Last season Justin Verlander could not partake in the All-Star Game, despite being among the league leaders in votes for pitchers, because he had started the last game before the break.
The same can be said for players who refuse to partake in the Home Run Derby which can be argued is the most popular event during the break. Many players have said that participating in the Home Run Derby has ruined their swings for the rest of the season, and there are numbers to back this up. Look at Josh Hamilton’s second half of 2008. By the All Star Break he had slugged 22 home runs and had 95 RBIs. After his memorable first round in which he smashed the single round record by hitting 28 home runs, he went on to hit only 10 the rest of the season finishing with 32 home runs and 135 RBIs.
Major League Baseball changed the rules last year regarding the Home Run Derby by allowing a player captain to pick his league’s “team”. One player has been targeted by the American League’s captain, Robinson Cano, and he has refused to take part in the event. Josh Hamilton has been asked twice to take part and has turned down the offer, citing he does not want to mess with his swing.
This is not the first time he has turned down the offer to participate though. In 2009, during an injury riddled season, he did not want to take part. He was just coming off an injury when the All Star Game was to take place and he didn’t want to reinjure himself.
He would easily be the biggest draw to the American League team with what he did at Yankee Stadium in 2008 but with his free agency looming he doesn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that. He will be the biggest name this winter if he hits the market.