Even in the first couple of weeks into his new role as commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred is talking about changing the rules in regard to pace-to-play and coming up with new initiatives in baseball. On Friday, Commissioner Manfred brought up a new idea that is going to change the way that the sport decides who hosts the annual Midsummer’s Classic.
In an article written by ESPN’s Jayson Stark, Manfred said that starting in 2017, the sport is going to stop the process of alternating the All-Star host city by league. Instead, MLB is going to take a page out of the proverbial playbook of the NFL and go to a bidding process to decide the city.
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Now, this process won’t take place until after the 2016 season since the game has already been awarded to PETCO Park and the San Diego Padres next season. Could the National League get a third straight All-Star Game in 2017 under this new process and do the Washington Nationals have an advantage with this new process?
While it is unclear what exactly the criteria is going to be for the new All-Star selection system, one of the qualifiers that was talked about in that piece was which city could put on the best “All-Star experience.” As was evidenced by the Bridgestone Winter Classic last month, Washington D.C is capable of putting on a great event.
One of the benefits that Nats Park has is that it is still one of the new stadiums that has not been selected to host the Midsummer’s Classic since it opened in 2008. When Bud Selig was Commissioner, one of the trends that would stand out is that he would usually reward teams for building new stadiums with the honor of hosting the All-Star game and its festivities, which include the Futures’ Game, the Legends & Celebrities Softball game, and the Home Run Derby.
Stark did say in the piece that not having the All-Star game should work in the Nats’ favor when the decision is made for future Midsummer’s Classics:
"“Sources say MLB will honor those commitments, meaning that teams such as the Marlins and Nationals, with newer parks that have never hosted an All-Star Game, could jump ahead of more established franchises, such as the Orioles, Indians, Dodgers and Cubs, in the bidding process.” (h/t ESPN.com)"
If/when the Nationals get selected to host the game, it will be the fifth time that the Nation’s Capital has hosted the game. The last time the game was held in DC was back in 1969 at RFK Memorial Stadium, a game in which the National League won 9-3.
Even though the game still will determine which league will have home field advantage in the World Series, it still is a nice change to have teams bid on the honor to host the event and to put more teams in the running for this honor more often than they normally would. That being said, you would have to think the Nationals will get their chance to be the hosts for the All-Star Game in the near future, if not in 2017.