Fan Votes for All-Star Game a Bad Idea

As we cope with the fact that the year is entering its seventh month despite feelings of Christmas being only yesterday here at Triple B the arrival of July means two things.

First, it is another reminder that I have lived in Texas far too long as it was a first week of July move that brought me to the state that only recognizes one lone star.

The second thing that July means is that the Major League Baseball All-Star Game is upon us. This year’s game will be July 16 in New York.

And unlike other All-Star games in sports, the MLB game has the feeling that it is being played to win by both sides. Of course some added incentive to win was added a few years back when home field advantage in the World Series was given to the league that won the All-Star game.

While I enjoy the home run derby and the All-Star game itself there is one particular aspect of the Baseball All-Star game season that I can do without.

That element of All-Star Game party foul is the fan vote. I know I will get lots of grief for saying this but I do not believe that the fans should be voting for the All-Star participants.

Sure, people will say that as a reporter I am being unfair to the common fan by saying that only members of the media and league officials should have a vote but let us examine what the fan vote portion of the All-Star voting really entails.

Unlike say the election for the President of the United States where a registered voter is allowed to cast a single ballot there are no such restrictions for MLB balloting. In fact, excessive voting is encouraged by the 30 teams who offer various prizes for filling out excessive amounts of ballots.

That boys and girls is called buying votes no matter how you slice it. And yes I am not trying to say that electing representatives to the All-Star game is more important than electing the President. Sadly I would not be surprised if more people vote in the All-Star race than the general elections to decide who will run the country though.

As an aside, as we approach July 4th when the founding fathers declared America’s independence and envisioned the framework of democracy I really think they expected more participation by the people in that process.  The fact that voter turnout is so dismal means that those who do not vote really have no right to complain in the outcome of any election since they chose to not use their right to make a choice.

But enough about civics and responsible citizenship. Let us cast our gaze once more at the ballot process for the MLB All-Star game.

As part of the ballot stuffing certain power voters submit hundreds if not thousands of ballots. Of course it stands to reason that they are voting for their home town favorites so it becomes a battle of which team has the most active fan base in selecting some of the leaders of the voting pack.

So instead of an All-Star game where the most talented individuals at a given position are selected to represent both their team and their league, the All-Star Game becomes like high school with only the popular kids getting in to the party.

Granted, sometimes the most popular player is also the best player at that position but there has been a long history of players with better stats getting left out.

Cal Ripken Jr. had a Hall of Fame worthy career but some late career All-Star Game selections seemed based more on past performance than current stats. Photo R. Anderson

Cal Ripken Jr. had a Hall of Fame worthy career but some late career All-Star Game selections seemed based more on past performance than current stats.
Photo R. Anderson

Let us use Cal Ripken, Jr. as an example. As noted numerous times, Cal Ripken, Jr. was my favorite player to follow growing up along with Don Mattingly. Few could argue that Cal Ripken, Jr. was a great ballplayer and every bit deserving of induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first ballot.

But as happens with all of us as we age we are not as productive as we once were. So despite declining skills Cal Ripken, Jr. still was selected to All-Star games late in his career when he was still widely popular but no longer the best player at his position.

There are examples of players on the disabled list getting a large amount of votes for inclusion as well. Derek Jeter has not taken the field all season long yet he is included on the All-Star Ballot. There are also players who have been released or optioned down to the Minor Leagues still on the ballot.

At least one member of the Houston Astros roster will travel to New York for the All Star Game. Does that mean that they are having an All-Star caliber year? Not necessary. It just means the rules say every team will have one player there to show support. Photo R. Anderson

At least one member of the Houston Astros roster will travel to New York for the All Star Game. Does that mean that they are having an All-Star caliber year? Not necessary. It just means the rules say every team will have one player there to show support.
Photo R. Anderson

Another wrinkle in the All-Star game is the rule that all 30 teams need to have at least one representative selected.

This rule helps ensure that no team feels left out and harkens to the age where everyone gets a participation ribbon so that no one is left out.

And yes there are good players on bad teams but am I really to believe that a player on say the Astros who have about 30 wins is playing at an All-Star level?

Granted there is probably not a perfect solution for balloting due to the fluid nature of the game and the ballots being released two months before the game. But, The fact remains I do not feel that allowing fans to vote as often as they can based on their ability to pick up enough ballots at the ballpark makes a mockery of the whole process.

For those people still wanting to get their votes in and take place in the mockery the polls close on July 4th this year.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I will not be filling out an All-Star ballot but I will start to plan my menu for the All-Star game tailgate.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson