The MLB All-Star Game is the most popular event of its kind, but Bryce Harper has an idea for how to make it even better: doing away with the American League versus National League format.
“It’d be great if let’s say the two leading vote-getters by the fans did a draft system and could pick from both sides,” said the Washington Nationals right fielder, according to ESPN. “So I could be facing [teammate] Max Scherzer today – I mean, nobody sees that. It would be a lot of fun to do something like that to make it a little more competition to face somebody on your team, like if [Clayton] Kershaw was facing Justin Turner, or Chris Sale facing Mookie Betts. That’d be a lot of fun.”
Under that proposed system, the two team captains for this year’s event would be Harper and recently-crowned Home Run Derby winner Aaron Judge. Both sluggers received well over 4 million fan votes.
Harper’s idea isn’t a revolutionary one in and of itself. The NFL and NHL have tried the “fantasy draft” format for their all-star festivities in the past, with both leagues abandoning the system in the last two years. Baseball, however, is a sport deeply rooted in tradition, with its current league division dating back to 1901. Furthermore, the All-Star Game has always pitted the two leagues against each other – anything else would be uncharted territory.
But preserving tradition isn’t high on Harper’s priority list. He’s been known to wear caps reading “MAKE BASEBALL FUN AGAIN” in an attempt to soften some of baseball’s unwritten rules, particularly the one that prevents hitters from flipping their bat after a home run.
For him, a chance to see two interleague super-teams going at it outweighs any sense of tradition that the current format offers.
“Mike Trout in center, me in right, and Mookie Betts in left,” Harper said. “It would be really cool to see. It would be really cool to be a part of that.”
Not everyone is on board with Harper’s plan, though. Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner, who sports MLB’s top batting average by a wide margin, would only go along with it under one condition.
“I don’t like it…I don’t want to face Clayton [Kershaw],” Turner said. “If I could be the captain, and I could pick Clayton, then it’s a deal.”