The current format has got to go. Here is what I would do:
- Make the All Star Game an exhibition again. Let the team with the better record between World Series contestants get home field advantage. I like that fans vote in the starting lineups, but that only makes sense in an exhibition setting. I've written about my preference before.
- Let fans vote in three starting pitchers and one closer. If fans are good enough to vote in starting lineups, they are also good enough to vote in the core of a pitching staff.
- Have the BBWAA determine all the players not voted in by the fans. The BBWAA is good enough to vote on all the post-season awards, as well as who goes in the Hall of Fame. They are good enough to make solid All Star selections. Most importantly, they take the toughest choices out of the managers' hands. Managers should be able to focus on their own seasons, and not worry about offending any of their own players with their selections.
- Trim rosters back to 25 players. Both teams should look like teams, not small armies. It makes the game itself more authentic, and a selection more prestigious. I understand that rosters have expanded to keep teams in better shape for extra innings, as well as accommodate the need for every team to be represented, so that's why this is not my final change.
- Require that every team has at least one representative in the All Star Game or the Home Run Derby. It is an unwritten rule that Derby contestants are All Star selections, so this written rule kills that tradition. I think it is for the better anyway. Right now, with a pair of 34-man rosters, there are a total of 68 slots. With a pair of 25-man rosters, and a 9-man Home Run Derby field (as would be my preference), there would be a total of 59 slots. That's not a ton fewer, and it would seem like an even smaller gap because the Derby slots are open to either league. Or, in other words, this set up still makes 34 slots available to either league to fulfill the representative rule. Although the Home Run Derby isn't as big of a deal as the All Star Game, is there a big exposure difference between riding the pine in the All Star Game, and taking a bunch of hacks in the Home Run Derby? If anything, the Derby is a better place for a lone representative from a bad team to end up.
- All Star Games tied after nine innings are decided with a home run derby. This is my most radical change, but the game works much better for pitcher usage if it is guaranteed to last nine innings, no matter what. In the derby, each team would pick three batters, and each batter would get three outs to hit as many home runs as they could. It would be like three Home Run Derby innings, and whichever league's trio that slugged the most homers would be the winner. If the leagues were still tied after three, then each would select another hitter, and each of them would get three outs, and so on and so on until the tie is broken. Admittedly, this would make for a gimmicky finish, but it's fine in an exhibition, and serves a pragmatic purpose.