I’m going to catch flak for this, but I don’t care. It’s time to take the All-Star Game out of the hands of the fans.
If last year didn’t prove it then the early polling results this season do; it’s a popularity contest, and more often than not the truly deserving players are on the outside looking in.
Last season it took the New York Yankees catcher Russell Martin saying that Detroit’s Alex Avila deserved to get the spot instead of him and it took the final ballot and an injury before Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera, who was having a phenomenal season, finally got the nod.
This year Prince Fielder and Mark Teixeira are leading the American League first base category, but the guy who is hitting .371 with a .451 on-base percentage (Paul Konerko) is sitting in third place. How is that right?
Because the Major League All-Star Game a popularity contest.
More often than not an American League fan can use pen when they fill out the shortstop and third base positions in early April; nine times out of ten those spots are filled by Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Are they the best players at those positions? No. But are they Yankees and get in simply because of that? Yes.
It’s ridiculous that truly deserving players have to have teammates and colleagues start “Vote Konerko” and “Vote Avila” campaigns on Twitter in order to beat out the players who make it every year simply because they wear pinstripes. It’s absurd.
I think the fan vote should remain as part of what determines who makes it to the All-Star Game each year, but its weight should be heavily discounted. Currently, fans have almost all of the power to send players each season; besides the pitchers they choose each spot. But what it should be is divided in thirds and distributed across the baseball sphere.
Fan voting should still take center stage, it should still be ballyhooed and encouraged, but it should not count for more than a third of the votes towards who take the trip to the mid-summer classic. The remaining two-thirds of the votes should be split between the baseball writers and current major league players.
Baseball writers are trusted to decide who makes it into Cooperstown and who doesn’t, why not ask the guys whose job it is to watch the games, which players are deserving of being called All-Stars and which aren’t? Who do fans go to when they have questions about their team and the goings-on of other teams across the league? The writers. So they should have a say in who plays in the All-Star Game.
To further even things out, give active players a ballot and tell them to vote for who they think are the best players. Players are honest, they see players from every team in their division and they know who is having a fantastic first half and who is struggling a little bit and in need of a break. If the players vote counted as the final third of the vote towards who played in the All-Star Game, fans would see a much more fair and accurate depiction of the true All-Stars in the game, instead of the same players year after year.
When the All-Star Game determines home-field advantage in the World Series, wouldn’t fans want the best players on the field instead of simply the most popular ones who might be having a mediocre year?
Another problem with the current All-Star Game is that each team has to be represented in the mid-summer classic. While that may be good to keep attention on the game across the league, it forces players who may not have otherwise been anywhere close to an All-Star nod to take the spots of players who truly have earned it.
What I’m suggesting are simple changes, but they could change the All-Star Game into something that can actually hold an audience’s attention and create a good game in the process.