Every year, I complain about the MLB All-Star Game. It’s kinda my thing.
I hate that fan voting carries so much weight in choosing the rosters, and I hate that the winner of the game determines who has home field advantage in the World Series. As pissed off as I was when there was a Kansas City Royals player leading the All Star Game voting at eight different positions, I was actually kind of glad, because maybe that would make the MLB wake up and realize that their online fan voting is really, really dumb.
If the outcome of the game didn’t matter, and the game was like it used to be — just for fun and American League/National League pride — then knock yourself out. Let all the fans in Kansas City pound their keyboards for their .220-hitting second baseman. But if they’re going to “make this one count”, a Major League Baseball season is just way too damn long to have something as important as home field advantage in the World Series determined by the winner of an exhibition game.
That being said, the MLB All Star Game was the most watched All Star Game of any sport in the last calendar year. With 10.9 million viewers, the 2015 MLB All Star Game (which I can’t recall a single memorable moment from off the top of my head) had 9.3 million more viewers than this year’s NHL All Star Game, which my idiot Section 10 Podcast co-host dared to compare to the 1999 MLB All Star Game at Fenway Park. Was the ’99 All Star Game a snoozefest after Pedro Martinez came out of the game? Sure, but All Star Games aren’t about the entire game, they’re about the moments. And I’ll put Pedro’s All Star Game moment up against any All Star Game moment in professional sports history.
Now, why do you think the MLB has the most-viewed All Star Game of any sport? Is it because the game determines home field advantage in the World Series? Maybe when they first implemented that stipulation, but these days, I’m gonna say no. Is it because it’s the most exciting All Star Game of any sport? Despite nobody really watching it, 3-on-3 hockey with the best players in the game is pretty exciting, and the NBA All Star Game had their highest scoring game ever this year. If anything, you could argue that the MLB All Star Game is the closest thing to an actual game that you’d see during the regular season, talent aside obviously. There are no inflated scores or whacky rule changes, so perhaps there’s appeal in the fact that MLB’s All Star Game is true to the actual game.
However, I think the reason why it’s the most viewed All Star Game of any sport is pretty simple. There’s nothing else to watch. The day after MLB’s All Star Game is the most dead sports day of the year. There is literally nothing else going on. So does the MLB see a ratings boost because, shit, what else am I gonna watch? I think that’s a fair theory.