Last Friday when I attended the Cardinals-Cubs game at Busch Stadium, I was able to vote for the starters at the All-Star game. I went through and carefully punched out the little holes representing who I thought had performed well enough to represent each league at the Mid-Summer Classic. Right about the time I punched out Ian Kinsler’s name for 2nd base on the AL side, my roommate leaned over and said, “No, that’s not right, I’m voting for Brendan Harris.” When I asked why he would vote for the light-hitting shortstop, he explained, “We’ve lost like what, 10 in a row? I’m giving them the worst lineup I can.” This is exactly why I have an issue with Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game.
Ever since the disastrous 7-7 tie in 2002, the winner of the All-Star game has claimed home field advantage in the World Series. Commissioner Bud Selig felt that if he made the All-Star game count for something, it would add intensity and therefore television ratings to the quickly deteriorating game. I don’t think this is a terrible idea, but Mr. Selig stopped a few changes short of making it a good idea.
First, if this game is going to count for something, the fans should not be involved in the voting. Fans turn the game into a popularity contest rather than a serious event, which is not what this game needs. People like my roommate pick the worst possible AL players to try and finally get the NL out of their slump. This way we don’t end up with the players who are having the best seasons, but the most popular players, or the big market players. The best example I can think of off the top of my head is when Scott Rolen was voted in as the starting NL third baseman while hitting .251 with 5 homers and 26 RBI. Rolen was unable to play due to an injury that would limit him to just 6 games after the break. The man who replaced Rolen and who the fans passed over, Aramis Ramirez, had a line of .298/19/57. Again, if this was an exhibition game, a popularity contest would be fine. Major League Baseball needs to do one or the other: meaningless exhibition, or home field determining contest which the fans have no bearing on.
Still want to vote for the starters? Think Scott Rolen deserved that All-Star game? Let me know in the comments.