Fan Voting Needs to Stop, Now
Ahh, the All-Star break – a special time in the summer where the top players get to showcase themselves, the rest get a rest, and the die-hard fans get a breather from rigorous rooting.
I should be very relaxed right now, my Mets have surged to just 1.5 games behind the first-place Phillies in the NL East, and they’re playing their best baseball since the 2006 regular season. For those of you whose teams are struggling mightily, even you should be relaxed at this time of year.
Breathe. Rest a little. Kick your feet up and just enjoy the All-Star festivities. There’s a lot of baseball left in the season, no need to panic just yet.
And do I practice what I preach? Am I calm and collected during this should-be joyous portion of the season?
Of course not. In fact, I’m as fired up and ready to explode as ever.
“Why?” you ask.
Because the fans voted Kosuke Fukudome as a starter on the National League squad.
I can’t stomach fan voting anymore. I just can’t. I wouldn’t care at all if the All-Star Game meant nothing like it used to, but these days World Series home field advantage is on the line.
Is it wishful to think that the Mets will be there in October? Sure, but if we make a wild postseason run I want Game 1 to be at Shea Stadium. What can I say, I like to plan ahead.
Look how important home court advantage proved to be in this year’s NBA playoffs, the home team winning percentage was off the charts, and the Celtics carried it all the way to a championship.
With Game 1 at Fenway Park, it was easier for the Red Sox to cool down the steaming hot Rockies in last season’s World Series. They got to avoid the raucous, rolling Rocky faithful.
So what does all this have to do with Fukudome? It’s pretty simple, actually – he doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star, let alone a starter. Hitting .282 with seven homers and 36 RBI, Fukudome is having nothing more than a respectable rookie season. If there was a “rookie challenge” or something of that nature, he’d fit nicely there.
But we’re talking about the big boys here. Fukudome should be in the kiddy pool while Albert Pujols, Chase Utley, Lance Berkman and the rest of the bullies are swimming in the deep section.
I’m agitated because with home field advantage on the line, I want the best possible option on the field at each and every position. Sure Clint Hurdle can get Fukudome out of there right away, but he’s too nice of a guy to be that cutthroat. Especially with his Rockies floundering and not worrying too much about the big dance in October.
So we’re stuck with Fukudome out there for at least a few innings, while Pujols rides the pine. The National League needs its premier player active, and all Hurdle will have to do is move Lance Berkman to the outfield to make room for Albert at first.
But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. The big issue here is the fan voting. Commissioner Selig has to do away with it if he’s going to continue to place significant weight on the outcome of the All-Star Game.
It’s not that the fans (collectively) don’t know anything – in fact, they did a nice job voting in the likes of Geovany Soto and Josh Hamilton this year – it’s that no fan-selected lineup is ever 100 percent appropriate. If the true professionals – the managers and coaches –picked the starters, the lineups would be as close to perfect as they can get.
So now, instead of calmly enjoying the mid-summer classic, I’ll be jumping out of my seat when Fukudome grounds out weakly to second because he’s overmatched against Roy Halladay, Scott Kazmir, or whomever’s on the hill.
I can already hear myself:
“Can we get Pujols in there?!”
By John Frascella
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