Baseball receives a ton of criticism for a variety of things. From Rob Manfred’s thoughts on Minor League Baseball salaries to the dwindling numbers of African Americans in MLB those criticisms are not only fair but warranted. But Baseball does have one big shiny gold medal around its neck. MLB ’s All Star game and it’s Home Run Derby is near perfect.
The game itself is the only All-Star game of any pro sports league in America that resembles a real game. And once you get to the 7th inning it resembles a post-season game with pitcher/hitter matchups that pit the best against the best. The scores aren’t absurd like the NHL’s. The effort isn’t void like the NBA’s. And it doesn’t exist just to exist like the NFL’s Pro Bowl.
We are constantly talking about what MLB should learn and take away from the NBA, NFL and NHL when it comes to structure, marketing and enjoyment. Well now it’s time for the those three to learn from MLB.
Adam Silver, Gary Bettman and Roger Goodell – You need not worry. We have helped all of you get your All Star Showcases back on track!
So, we now ask the question: What can the NBA, NHL and NFL do to make their All-Star game more like MLB’s?
NBA – The last three to four minutes of the NBA All-Star game is amazing. Everyone D’s up. Ball movement is amazing, and the game resembles that of a real event in which the stakes are high. The previous 44-45 minutes are the video game version of a pick-up game with the best athletes in sports. When the Over/Under for points scored is always the main talking point going into the game you have yourself a problem. Here are your NBA All-Star Solutions.
Points by Quarter Winner – Players on the Team that wins the QTR each receive $50,000. That’s $600K per QTR. If a team were to sweep all four QTRs each player could earn an additional $200K for the game. The player with the most rebounds in the QTR would receive an additional $25K with the NBA matching the $25K with a charitable donation to the charity of that players choice.
What we have done is incentivized play for all four quarters. Something is always on the line and always at stake. There is instantly something on the line when it comes to playing hard in the pain and on the glass. Individual players benefit but so does a group of people that need the financially assistance. Players are helping themselves while helping others at the same time.
Offensive and Defensive Game MVPs – $100K bonus to each and the NBA matches $100K to their charity of choice.
For around $1.5 million we have made this a 48-minute game with stakes being high financially on and off the court. Everybody plays. Everybody wins.
NHL – When your solution to your high scoring issues is to take players off the ice you have a big problem. It’s worked – sort of. Over 90 goals were scored in the four All-Star Game before the League decided to adopt it’s 3 on 3 model. The two round knockout tournament and 10-minute halves is just a novelty. Plus the best three or four players in the sport may not even be around at the end. Hockey needs its stars around more than any other sport. Especially at the end of games!
Period by Period Pay – – Players on the Team that wins each period each receive $40,000. That’s $800K per Period. (Hockey’s financial purse isn’t near as deep as the NBA’s) If a team were to sweep all Periods each player could earn an additional $120K for the game. It is difficult to create financial incentives for defense in hockey. You could for the fewest shots on goal but that would lead to a boring showcase with puck dumping and icing at every turn. So, what to do?
2 vs 2 Time Out – In between periods the conference will compete in a 2 vs 2 showcase – a Goalie and defensemen vs Whatever you want to send out there! Just like penalty shots each team will get 5 cracks at it! Every player must be on the ice for one round. Each winning team each gets an extra $15K per player. The losing team loses a player for the start of the next period! The winning conference is in the power play for the first two minutes of the second and third period.
We have combined a skills based competition that has an impact on the game while rewarding and entire team. This will have a slight effect on the start of the next period. Hockey is a bit trickier than basketball but these two adjustments will start to get us back to where we were in the 80s.
NFL – The toughest of them all to improve. It will never mirror a real game. You could give away $1 million per quarter and it wouldn’t matter. The risk of injury is far to great. And how on earth do you incentivize exceptional Guard and Center play?
Every there are cries to just “get rid of the game”. But more people watch the Pro-Bowl then the NBA Finals or World Series. So why on earth would the NFL burn a pile of cash for fun?
Player Contract Lottery – This one takes a little creativity. The team that wins the game has every player’s name enter a ping pong ball lottery. The player’s name that is chosen receives his contract guaranteed for the next two seasons. It will NOT count adversely against the cap.
Lineman Lamborghini/Bentley Lottery – Offensive Lineman have zero change to win an MVP award. So here is what we are going to do. The team that wins the game has every OL player’s name enter a lottery. The player’s name that is chosen receives a Lamborghini/Bentley.
Incentivizing players with team concepts (ex: more home games, compensatory picks) won’t improve on the field play. A player isn’t going to risk injury so that team can use a 4th round pick next April. The only concept where this could work is that the winning conference gets the ball first in overtime for all cross over conference games the following season should those games end regulation in a tie. How much of an impact will that have? A very small one but it’s about the only one that we can think of that’s a team based incentive that would work.
Ok so these aren’t a complete overhaul which is what we were trying to avoid. I am a realist. Will these things all make each sport’s All-Star games perfect?
No. But as a wise man once said. It’s a start.