When it comes to all-star games, it doesn’t get any better than Major League Baseball’s Midseason Classic.
While physical sports such as the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and National Hockey League see their all-star games suffer from a lack of defensive intensity, baseball’s showcase isn’t affected as much by its exhibition game status. When these guys get between the white lines, the pitchers, batters, and fielders are still playing for pride and giving maximum effort, often resulting in a pretty good contest.
The MLB All-Star Game is also one of the rare times on the North American professional sports calendar where no other leagues are in action, so we can totally understand why you want to bet on the game! In this MLB All-Star Game Betting Guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about wagering on the annual clash between the top stars of the American League and National League.
The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is held every year and marks the unofficial halfway point of the MLB regular season. The league annually shuts down for several days midway through July for the All-Star Break, enabling MLB’s top players to participate in the game while giving the rest of the league some much-needed time off.
The venue for the game rotates every year, typically alternating between American League and National League parks and with the intent of eventually giving fans from every MLB city a chance to see the game’s top players take the field together.
The 2018 MLB All-Star Game is slated for Tuesday, July 17, in Washington, D.C. All but three all-star games have been played on a Tuesday since 1963, with the only exceptions coming when the game was rained out (1969), when there was a players’ strike (1981), or for the 50th anniversary of the event (1983).
Before we get into discussing the best sites for betting on the MLB All-Star Game, you need to be aware that betting on the game is a pretty unique and challenging endeavor. Since the starting pitchers are out of the game by the second or third inning and the starting position players don’t last much longer, you’re dealing with a lot of variables that make it virtually impossible to handicap.
Because of that, we recommend that you never wager a significant amount of money on the game. There’s nothing wrong with having a few bucks riding on the outcome in order to make things more interesting, but you don’t want to lose thousands based on what happens when the third-stringers come into the game (yes, they’re still All-Stars, but they’re not as good as the guys who were in the starting lineup).
But even if you follow our advice and keep any bets on the All-Star Game small and recreational, you still need to be diligent on which betting sites you’re using. Odds may not be as important to you when you’re placing fun bets, but the safety and reliability of the site still matters. Otherwise, you might as well place a bet with one of your friends, knowing that at least one of you will get paid. Besides, whatever site you end up joining to bet on the MLB All-Star Game is probably the site you’ll use to bet on other sporting events, and you definitely don’t want to risk getting stiffed on payouts from your bigger wagers!
For those reasons, we strongly suggest you only consider one of the following sites for betting on the MLB All-Star Game. We recommend these sites based on a variety of factors, such as player safety, customer service, deposit options, odds, and bonuses.
Obviously, the game is designed to showcase baseball’s top stars, but the selection process for who actually plays in the game is a bit more complicated.
Here’s how the 34-player rosters for both the American League and National League are currently determined:
However, not every player who is voted or selected to an all-star team ends up playing in the game.
Pitchers who started a regular-season game on the previous Sunday are not eligible to play in the game, and some players are unable to participate due to injury. (In both cases, the Commissioner’s Office and the all-star managers determine their replacement.)
Meanwhile, the unpredictable nature of a baseball game often means that several back-up pitchers or position players do not end up getting utilized. Managers were burned in the 2002 All-Star Game when they ran out of available pitchers in the 11th inning (resulting in the game being called a tie, leading to the rule that home-field advantage in the World Series would be determined by the All-Star Game), and they’ve been careful to keep an extra bullet or two in their bullpen and bench chambers ever since.
To suggest the MLB All-Star Game has been pretty evenly contested over the years would be a wild understatement. As of 2018, the all-time series is tied at 43-43-2, and both the American League and National League have scored the exact same amount of runs during that span (361).
But if it feels like the American League has had the upper hand recently, that’s because it has. Not only has the Junior Circuit won the last five all-star games, but it’s also lost just seven of the last 31 meetings (23 victories and one tie), highlighted by a 12-0-1 run from 1997-2009.
As dominant as the AL has been over the past three decades, however, it doesn’t compare to the success the NL enjoyed from 1950-87. During that span, the Senior Circuit went 30-6-1, winning 11 in a row at one point and 19 of 20.
Below are results of every MLB All-Star Game ever played (there were two games played per year from 1959-62 as the players looked to generate more money for their pension fund):
When the brightest stars of the game get together on the same field, memorable moments are bound to happen.
There have been too many great MLB All-Star Game moments over the years to list them all, but we’ve boiled them down to 10 of the most notable:
>> 1933: The American League doubled up the National League 4-2 in the first-ever edition of the MLB All-Star Game. Legendary New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth fittingly hit the first home run in All-Star Game history, mashing a two-run homer in the bottom of the third inning, and helped preserve the AL’s lead with a catch at the wall in the eighth.
>> 1949: Two years after breaking MLB’s color barrier, Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman Jackie Robinson was among the first four African-American players to participate in the All-Star Game. Other black players to play in the game included Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella and pitcher Don Newcombe and Indians outfielder Larry Doby.
>> 1954: Cleveland Indians first baseman Al Rosen became just the third player in All-Star Game history to hit two home runs, joining Arky Vaughan (1941) and Ted Williams (1946). Making Rosen’s 3-for-4 performance even more incredible is the fact that he was playing with a broken index finger.
>> 1970: The All-Star Game ended in dramatic but controversial fashion as Cincinnati Reds outfielder Pete Rose ran over unsuspecting Cleveland Indians catcher Ray Fosse at home plate in the 12th inning. The collision dislodged the ball from Fosse’s glove and enabled Rose to score the winning run, but many consider Rose’s physical play excessive and inappropriate for an exhibition game. Nearly 50 years later, Fosse still suffers lingering effects from the incident.
>> 1993: Philadelphia Phillies first baseman John Kruk provided one of the funniest moments in All-Star Game history when he batted against hard-throwing Seattle Mariners lefty Randy Johnson in the third inning. After Johnson intentionally sailed a fastball over Kruk’s head on the first pitch of the at-bat, the left-handed-hitting Kruk bailed out of the batter’s box while swinging wildly at a pair of subsequent pitches, eventually striking out.
>> 1997: Also intimidated by a high and inside pitch by Randy Johnson, left-handed-hitting Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker turned his helmet backwards and batted right-handed for the following pitch. Walker then returned to his normal side of the plate and drew a walk.
>> 1999: Former Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams threw out the ceremonial first pitch during ceremonies preceding the game at Fenway Park honoring the best MLB players of the 19th century. Understanding that this was likely Williams’ final appearance at Fenway (he died three years later), all of MLB’s current all-stars swarmed around the Splendid Splinter in adoration. Following the emotional send-off, AL starting pitcher and Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez struck out five of the six hitters he faced in a dominant performance.
>> 2001: In the final All-Star Game appearance of his Hall of Fame career, iconic Baltimore Orioles infielder Cal Ripken Jr. responded to a standing ovation by drilling a homer to left on the first pitch he saw. Earlier in the game, Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez graciously switched positions with Ripken to allow Ripken to start the game at short.
>> 2002: MLB commissioner Bud Selig’s worst nightmare came true as the All-Star Game (which was hosted by the Milwaukee Brewers, the team he used to own) was forced to end in a tie after 11 innings because both teams had run out of available pitchers. The announcement of a potential tie was announced in the bottom of the 11th inning and met with a chorus of boos, jeers, and thrown beer bottles. The following year, MLB began awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the team that won that year’s All-Star Game, a controversial rule that remained in place until 2016.
>> 2008: The longest All-Star Game in history was played as the American League and National League required 4 hours and 50 minutes to determine a winner at Yankee Stadium. After the American League tied the game 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning, the teams played six scoreless frames before the AL finally won in the bottom of the 15th on Michael Young’s sacrifice fly. Maybe it was a good thing after all that Selig implemented that 2002 home-field advantage rule to keep managers wary about how many relievers and reserves they had available!
Although the Cleveland Naps hosted a squad of American League All-Stars in an exhibition game in 1911 (the game was played in memory of former Naps pitcher Addie Joss, who had died from tuberculous meningitis earlier that year), the first official MLB All-Star Game was played in 1933.
Chicago Tribune editor Arch Ward came up with the idea of having a game between the top players from the American League and National League. Although it was originally intended to simply be a one-time showcase in conjunction with the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, the game was an immediate success, leading MLB to become the first of the four North American professional sports to hold an annual all-star game.
With the exception of periods from 1935-46 and 1957-70, fans have always played a role in determining the starting rosters for both teams. That has led to several controversies, such as Cincinnati Reds fans stuffing the ballot boxes in 1956 (electing Reds to all but one of the NL’s starting positions), a Boston Red Sox fan creating an online program that voted for Nomar Garciaparra nearly 40,000 times in 1999, or eight Kansas City Royals leading the ballot at their positions shortly before the 2015 All-Star Game. MLB intervened in each case, overruling the fan votes in an effort to ensure that only the most deserving players ended up as starters.
In 1962, the All-Star Game began presenting the top player from the game with a Most Valuable Player award. It was first named the Arch Ward Memorial Award (in honor of the All-Star Game’s founder), was renamed to the Commissioner’s Trophy in 1970, reverted back to the Arch Ward Memorial Award in 1985, and then became known as the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award in 2002, the year in which Williams died.
A designated hitter was added to the game in 1989 (at first, it was only when the game was played in American League parks, but MLB added it to all games beginning in 2011). Other notable improvements to All-Star Week over the years include the additions of the Home Run Derby in 1985, the All-Star Futures Game for minor league prospects in 1999, and the All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game in 2001.
The tone of the MLB All-Star Game changed dramatically in 2002, when MLB commissioner Bud Selig announced that whichever league won the game would have home-field advantage in the World Series later that season. The rule, prompted by a tie in the 2002 All-Star Game as well as the perception of general apathy surrounding the event, was immediately criticized for how players from non-playoff teams were having such an impact on who would win that year’s World Series. However, it stood in place until 2016, when MLB resumed awarding home-field advantage to the World Series finalist with the best regular-season record.
Ultimately, even if the MLB All-Star Game has lost a bit of its charm with interleague play (prior to that, it and the World Series were the only times that players from the rival leagues faced each other), it is still clearly the best and most popular All-Star Game in North American professional sports.
Some people scoff at the notion of betting on the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wagering on it at a recreational level.
Unlike all-star games in North America’s other major professional sports, we usually see the players giving maximum effort. It’s still essentially the same game of pitcher versus hitter, may the best man win, and players take a lot of pride in how they perform, even if home-field advantage in the World Series is no longer on the line.
Again, unless you’re confident that you have found an edge, make sure to keep your bets small to ensure that you can still enjoy your gambling experience, win or lose. And regardless of the size of wager you’re placing, always be sure to use a betting site that you know you can trust.