The Office of the Commissioner released the early results for the 2011 All-Star Game balloting, and per usual there are some glaring errors.
There are a few problems with the procedure. First, according to the press release:
Fans can continue to cast their votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites — online or via your mobile device — using the 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint until June 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
I’m pretty sure that allowing fans to have up to 75 votes (and more if they have hacker-like computer dexterity) will aid the candidacies of players for large market teams like New York and harm those from smaller markets.
Second, besides voting on line, fans can fill out ballots at the ballpark. I do not think elections should mix with the consumption of alcohol, and wonder about the thought that is or is not put into those ballots.
Third, the game now determines the home field advantage for the World Series. To be honest, fair and maintain integrity of the World Series, the best players at this time should be chosen – and play – for each league, not someone with a high Q rating, notoriety or someone merely known to casual fans of the game. I seem to recall being told by unflincing moralists during the past decade that the “Steroid Era” was awful because it affected the integrity of the game. So does the All-Star voting process, but I guess it’s fine if fans distort the game as opposed to players?
To the results:
In the American League, six Yankees lead the balloting as of June 1st – catcher Russell Martin, first baseman Mark Teixeira, second baseman Robinson Cano, shortstop Derek Jeter, third baseman Alex Rodriguez and centerfielder Curtis Granderson.
The non-Yankees that lead at the present time are home run happy Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista (“chicks dig the long ball” publicity and unwarranted steroid rumors), aw-shucks born-again but injured Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton (who burst onto the public stage via the home run derby in New York at the 2008 All-Star Game) and designated hitter Michael Young (who was in the news constantly this winter due to complaints about playing time)
As for the National League, at some positions there is an embarrassment of riches and it appears that their voters are paying a little closer attention to the season.
Three St. Louis players lead at their positions – Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, whose comeback year is being noticed by fans.
Whom do you choose at first base – Albert Pujols (in the middle of a “down” season but currently the top vote getter in the NL), Joey Votto, Ryan Howard or Prince Fielder?
And with the season-ending injury to Giants backstop Buster Posey, who will get the nod – Braves catcher Brian McCann or Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina?
Other position leaders are Posey at catcher, the Reds’ Brandon Phillips at second base, the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki (second in overall votes at 975,777) at shortstop, the Phillies’ Placido Polanco at third base, and the Brewers’ Ryan Braun (third overall at 971,809) joining the Cardinals’ Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman as the current leaders in the outfield.
I know that the game is “for the fans” and we have to allow some extreme homerism and leeway, but selection to the All-Star Game should not be the equivalent of the Oscars and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for a person’s body of work and career.
Let’s address this topic. To quote Rich Stowe at the Bleacher Report, perhaps it is time to take the vote away from fans?
Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Russell Martin, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano are all leading their respective positions. Yes, you read that right, Derek Jeter is the leading vote getter for starting short stop for the American League. Out of those players, only two deserve to be the starter and that’s Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson (with Cano being at least debatable). The rest either shouldn’t be in the discussion at all or at least no better than second. Then, add in the fact that Jorge Posada is third in the Designated Hitter voting and it further proves that fans simply vote for the name or team and nothing else.
As for Derek Jeter, I can understand the votes for his career (just like Cal Ripken in 2001), however, the All-Star game isn’t supposed to be for the player’s career, it’s supposed to be for the best players from April through July of that season and Derek Jeter simply isn’t one of them.
Baseball has revoked the fan voting in the past (in the 1970s when fans stuffed the ballot box for the Big Red Machine) and if the game is going to “mean something”, MLB needs to revoke it once again or remove the meaning from the game.
This season – starting with the savage beating at Dodger Stadium, drunken actions in the stands, homophobic slurs (by fans, every night – not players or coaches) , numerous people running on the field during the game and generally oblivious All-Star voting – is the year of the fan, and fans should not be proud of their actions at the park and towards the game.
Players were told by the public to clean up their act as a result of the Steroid Era – it’s time for fans to be held to some standard of integrity and to do the same. Put some thought into the votes or the vote should be taken away – as “this time, it counts”.