Early All Star voting reveals a flawed selection process

The ubiquitous advertising on MLB.com is a reminder to one of Bud Selig’s darkest days as baseball commissioners. The ads calling fans to vote for their favorite players as 2005 All Stars all repeat the same mantra. “This one counts.?

Major League Baseball won’t have a repeat of 2003, the ads are telling the fans. No more games ending in 11-inning ties because, well, baseball games just don’t end in ties. No more managers running out of pitchers just to get someone into the game. Plus the whole “this one counts? idea worked fine in 2004. Let’s do it again this year.

But for all of this emphasis on turning the Mid-Summer Classic into a meaningful game, Major League Baseball has to improve the All Star Game process. It’s now a meaningful game with players selected in a meaningless fashion. Until those in charge can figure out how to reconcile the competing interests of the fans and the integrity of the All Star Game, having this one – or any of the All Star games – count just seems wrong.

The first warning sign arrived in my inbox last Wednesday, April 20, when I got an e-mail telling me to vote for my favorite players for the All Star Game. At first, I thought this was a mistake. By last Wednesday, most teams had played all of 15 games, and the All Star Game in July was nearly three months in the future.

Fifteen games into the season doesn’t give anyone enough time to start evaluating players for the All Star Game, but it certainly gives those die-hard fans ample opportunity to vote for players only from their favorite team. After 15 games of the season, all we knew was that Brian Roberts was going to hit 64 home runs, that the Dodgers were going to win over 125 games, and that Dontrelle Willis was going to pitch 33 complete-game shutouts this season. So much for projecting stats based on the first two weeks of baseball. But, hey! Vote for your favorite Yankee everyday for the next three months. There’s plenty of time.

This ridiculously early voting kick-off date was of no concern to Major League Baseball. Selig and Co. need people to watch the game, and what better way to get people planning for the July game than early online voting. Furthermore, this is a system that inherently favors people off to good starts. Roberts, the Orioles’ second baseman, is doing exceptionally well this April, and I’m sure more than a few people will vote for him in the early going. What happens when June 10 rolls around and Roberts hasn’t hit a home run since late April? He’ll still have those All Star votes and could wind up starting in Detroit on July 12. As an American League fan, I may not want him out there come the second week of July defending my team’s shot at homefield advantage.

The second problem with the All Star game is the voting itself. If the game counts and players are supposedly motivated to play for homefield advantage in the World Series, the fans shouldn’t be the ones voting for the All Star starters.

Looking at the ballot, Kevin Millar and Tino Martinez enjoy the highest level of name recognition among AL first basemen right now. Playing on the two biggest baseball stages in the country, Millar and Martinez have great fan bases in Boston and New York respectively. But in the early going, the real All Star is Paul Konerko. The White Sox just don’t enjoy the same level of exposure as the Red Sox or Yankees do. How can a biased system be relied upon to pick a team of players who will really be the All Stars?

The issue of injured players also rings a similar bell. As Mark Newman introduced the All Star voting last Wednesday on MLB.com, he questioned whether or not Barry Bonds would get the votes this year. He does after all have a great deal of prestige and recognition attached to his name. Never mind that by July 12 he may not have even made his 2005 season debut. Are you really an All Star if you haven’t set foot on the field? How can a system that extols the game as counting this time allow for an injured player to have even the slightest shot at garnering a starting spot on the All Star team?

All of these flaws point to the biggest problem facing Major League Baseball and the All Star game. It’s an issue of defining the game. Is the All Star spectacle about securing homefield advantage in the World Series or is the game about giving the fans what they want so they’ll watch the game? If it’s about homefield advantage and rewarding the true All Stars, it’s time for the coaches, managers, and players to pick the guys who stand out as the real All Stars. If it’s about the fans and giving them what they want (as an All Star game should be), then it’s time to drop the whole “this one counts? mentality that surrounds the All Star game.

Either way, April 20 – Game 15 for many teams – is simply too early to start calling for All Star votes. Who knows what great players won’t get the call because fans are locked into their selection after just two weeks? Plus, we shouldn’t risk rewarding the wrong guys as All Star. This one counts.

Advertisements

RSS River Ave. Blues

  • The Rest of the AL East [2017 Season Preview] March 30, 2017
    There has been an interesting bit of parity in the AL East this decade, as every team has won the division crown in the last seven years. The Red Sox appear to be the standard-bearer, with both ZiPS and PECOTA projecting them to repeat as division champs – but both also have at least four […] The post The Rest of the AL East [2017 Season Preview] appeared fi […]
    Domenic Lanza
  • Spring Training Game Thread: Final Grapefruit League Game March 30, 2017
    This afternoon the Yankees are playing their final Grapefruit League game of the year. They still have one exhibition game remaining, tomorrow night at the brand new SunTrust Field in Atlanta, but this is the final game in Florida. Well, at least until the Yankees come back to play the first series of the regular […] The post Spring Training Game Thread: Fin […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Yankees finalize Opening Day roster; Holder, Mitchell, and Shreve make the bullpen March 30, 2017
    Earlier this morning, Joe Girardi informally announced the Yankees’ 25-man Opening Day roster. Aaron Judge will be the right fielder and Luis Severino will be the fourth starter, and the decision to option out Rob Refsnyder means Pete Kozma will be the utility infielder. Also, Girardi told Bryan Hoch that Bryan Mitchell, Jonathan Holder, and […] The post Yan […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Girardi on Aaron Judge: “He’s our right fielder” March 30, 2017
    Common sense prevails! Joe Girardi announced this morning Aaron Judge will be the Yankees’ starting right fielder this season, according to Erik Boland. “He’s our right fielder,” said Girardi. The club was reportedly considering sending Judge to Triple-A as recently as yesterday. Judge, 24, is hitting .345/.406/.569 with three homers so far this spring. He’s […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Rob Refsnyder Optioned to Triple-A March 30, 2017
    Earlier today, the Yankees announced that Rob Refsnyder had been optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 26-year-old was batting just .209/.314/.349 in 43 at-bats, and was openly put on the trading block three weeks ago. There was some talk that he could have a shot at heading north in a bench role on the heels of the […] The post Rob Refsnyder Optioned to Tr […]
    Domenic Lanza
  • Passan: Yankees will use Luis Severino as fourth starter March 30, 2017
    According to Jeff Passan, right-hander Luis Severino has made the Opening Day roster and the Yankees will use him as their fourth starter. Neither Joe Girardi nor anyone with the team has announced anything yet, however. Still, all signs point in this direction. This isn’t exactly a surprise. Severino, 23, has allowed six runs in […] The post Passan: Yankees […]
    Mike Axisa
  • There are many pros and only a few cons to signing Sanchez to a long-term contract March 30, 2017
    February and March make up extension season in baseball. Most pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players hammer out their contracts for the upcoming season this time of year, and inevitably some strike long-term deals with their teams. In recent weeks Tim Anderson, Rougned Odor, Jose Ramirez (the hitter, not the pitcher), Kevin Kiermaier, and Carlos Ma […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Open Thread: March 29th Camp Notes March 29, 2017
    Your browser does not support iframes.The Yankees are officially Spring Training champions. They clinched baseball’s best record this spring with their win this afternoon. Neat. The Yankees are now 23-8-1 while the second place Cardinals are 20-8-4. Both teams have two games to play. Aaron Judge had two singles this afternoon and he even stole […] The post O […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Poll: The 2017 RAB Prospect Watch March 29, 2017
    One of our longest running features — I hesitate to call it a feature, but whatever — here at RAB is our annual Prospect Watch. We pick a prospect and track his progress throughout the season in the sidebar. Simple, right? Also kinda silly, but hey, people seem to like it, so it continues. Think […] The post Poll: The 2017 RAB Prospect Watch appeared first o […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Brian Cashman and the 2017 trade deadline [2017 Season Preview] March 29, 2017
    Welcome to another contract year for Brian Cashman. Don’t worry: Cashman has enough job security that he isn’t about to trade the farm for some short-sighted fix that harms the Yankees’ future. He’s acquitted himself quite well over the last two decades and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the job right now. It […] The post Brian Cashman and the 2017 trad […]
    Steven Tydings

Blog Stats

  • 62,328 hits

%d bloggers like this: