You might have been wondering when a renovated Wrigley Field might get to host the All-Star Game again; it's now been 25 years since the last Midsummer Classic on the North Side, held in 1990.
That question was posed to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in a Q-and-A session with ESPN.com reporters, and though he said Chicago would be a "great market" for an All-Star Game, he also dropped this bomb about future All-Star locations:
"One of the things that I am going to try to do with All-Star Games is -- and we'll make some announcements in the relatively short-term -- I am looking to be in more of a competitive-bidding, Super Bowl-awarding-type mode, as opposed to [saying], `You know, I think Chicago is a good idea,'" he replied. Manfred did not specify how that bidding would work. However, sources say that rather than choosing cities based on which league they're in, All-Star Game hosts will be chosen in the future based on the merits of the city and ballpark, and which team and city can produce the best "All-Star experience." But the process will be complicated, at least initially, by other factors.
Those other factors include the awarding of the 2016 game to San Diego and the 2017 game to Washington, something that has broken the usual alternating-league pattern of games (although that also happened less than 10 years ago when Pittsburgh and San Francisco were hosts in 2006 and 2007). The article also noted that the Marlins had been promised a game in their new stadium, so that might "jump" Miami ahead of "established franchises like the Orioles, Indians, Dodgers and Cubs in the bidding process."
Here, I think Manfred has solved a problem that didn't exist. Pretty much every city that's hosted an All-Star Game over the last decade or so has given a good "experience." I attended the 2003 game at the Cell and the 2012 game in Kansas City and a fine time was had by all. KC, in fact, put on a really nice show both at the K and in a downtown convention center where they hosted a FanFest. I'm not sure what Manfred wants beyond that in terms of "experience," but what this might do is, as has been the case for many things in modern baseball, give big-market teams that can put together big-market budgets an advantage in bidding for the All-Star Game. Do we want to have it every year in New York, Boston, Los Angeles or Chicago? How would ownership in places like Tampa Bay, Milwaukee, Kansas City and other small markets be able to put together competitive bids?
If they're going to do this to the game, they might as well scrap it, in my view. They've already inflated it beyond its true importance (an exhibition game) with the silly "This Time It Counts." Now Manfred is proposing something that might cut out many franchises from hosting the game.
Rob Manfred's first month as commissioner is not going the way I thought it would, that's for sure.