It's meant to be a showcase, not training camp

In an effort to keep baseball fans mollified, the All-Star Game has morphed into a glorified spring-training contest.

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For the second straight year, baseball's All-Star Game drew record-low television ratings. For all that has been introduced to enhance the event in recent years, it is not hard to determine why: fans are not getting to see enough of the game's best players.

For months, Major League Baseball trumpets the voting process as a way for fans to elect the players they most want to see. Each year, the number of participating voters increases. And each year, their wishes are ignored after the third inning or so.

In an effort to keep everyone mollified, the All-Star Game has morphed into a glorified spring-training contest crossed with a Little League game. Everyone gets to play. All that is missing are the trophies.

That is a nice notion, but not at the expense of the game's premise, which is intended to showcase the very best the game has to offer, and not, as it is currently handled, a way to get every player into the game.

Many of the elected starters got only one at-bat or two. By the fourth inning, fans tuning into the game were not seeing the players they chose for the game, but rather, the reserve players selected by the players and managers.

It wasn't that long ago that starters played most of the game, getting at least three at-bats. Reserves were not guaranteed playing time, but that wasn't considered any sort of scandal.

By contrast, 60 players appeared in Tuesday's game in Phoenix, meaning most everyone was happy. Except the fans.