Let’s do something About the All-Star Game
Is it an exhibition or is it a real game with real consequences? Unlike most elections in a democracy, baseball is allowing and encouraging each fan to vote 25 times not one person one vote. Old fashioned ballot box stuffing? Are the all star rosters large enough? Should every team be represented? Should players be allowed to beg off appearing in the game, especially if they have been voted in by the fans? Should the respective managers of the two teams be allowed to pick half of their team to be in the All Star game?
Questions, questions, questions and more questions. Well, I have some answers, answers and more answers so listen up Bud Selig. Maybe with a little help you might get something right for a change.
The All Star game should be an exhibition game. The concept of the winning team having a home field advantage in the World Series is beyond silly. This was a knee jerk reaction after the infamous tie game of 2002 which ended in a tie because both teams ran out of players. The solution would have been to expand the rosters, especially pitching but more on that later. The All Star game used to be a fun exhibition game for the players (with the possible exception of Ted Williams and Bob Gibson), a chance to have some fun and not worry about who won or who lost in the middle of a long, tough season. It was a chance to have some fun with the fans and to show off some moves which wouldn’t be acceptable in a real game. Another example of Bud Selig fixing something that wasn’t broken and making things worse.
When fan voting was reintroduced in 1969 it was a fun and legitimate way for the average fan such as me to become involved in player selection. Studies have shown over the years that although there were cases of players making the team who really didn’t deserve to be there, in general, the fans and players generally voted for the same players. It got the fans involved and gave baseball a boost when attendance was flagging. Voting up to 25 times has greatly cheapened the experience. I’m guessing that the reason for this ballot box stuffing was for public relations purposes and to “prove” to the media that baseball was more popular than ever and more popular than any other sport. Each of the past few seasons have seen hundreds of millions of votes cast. Of course, one has to divide any results by 25 to get the real numbers. Of course, one has to read the very fine print to get the real story. I prefer to leave such deception of the real story to the corporations in our world who thrive on misinformation and outright lies. Baseball is popular and whether it needs to inflate its numbers to compete with other sports seems like a childish my dad can beat your dad grade school playground argument. One man or woman or child, one vote would give the voting much needed credibility.
All Star rosters should be expanded and have been expanded. This is necessary so as not to have a repeat of the 2002 disaster. Let’s get everyone in there who deserves to be even if they all may not get to play. Not every team should necessarily be represented as some teams don’t have any players deserving. The original concept of one league against the other therefore every team should have at least one representative was a sound one but with interleague play and teams moving from one league to another this concept may no longer be valid. Let’s have only those players deserving of an appearance represent their respective league. Are there really any 2012 Chicago Cubs or Minnesota Twins who could be called All Stars? Okay, maybe Joe Mauer from the Twins but that would be the exception and not the rule. You know what I mean.
If a player is voted onto the All Star team he should be absolutely required to participate, health or personal circumstances permitting. The fans that pay your salary and show up every day to cheer you on deserve a lot more respect than that. Fishing and golfing can be done during the off season from your yacht which is parked just offshore from your mansion or at the local golf course at which you have an exclusive membership. From March until your team is eliminated from the playoffs is the fans time, not yours. It’s supposed to be an honor. Act like it.
Let’s put an end to managers who select most of their team to be on the squad. Let’s remember that this is about the league, not the fact that your team won the World Series last year. I know that it might be your last chance or one and only chance to manage the All Star game but you are representing an entire league. An objective look around is what is needed here. Not selecting one of your own players doesn’t mean a lack of respect for the players who got you a ring last year. They’ll still love you. Trust me.
One more thing. Something that makes this game unique and far better than any other is the wearing of the individual team uniforms. Let’s keep that. It’s another reason why despite its flaws, the baseball All Star game is the best.
By: Doug Bird