On this eve of the “Midsummer Classic”, I am convinced now more than ever that it’s time to once and for all correct the way these Major League Baseball All-Stars are selected….and in doing so restore America’s national pastime. No doubt the increase of inter-league play during the regular season has significantly reduced the anticipation this yearly game once had, and many would say there are simply not enough “household” names in today’s game, but unarguably it is still the BEST all-star game of all the major sports. Let’s do what we need to do right NOW to make certain it always stays this way!
Every year some players are snubbed, others should NOT have been included, and still others are chosen as reserves and they should be starting (or vice versa). It’s doubtful we can totally avoid this subjectivity. Should the All-Star squads consist of players who just happen to have great stats at the season’s half-way point? Does at least one player need to be selected from EVERY team? Does each roster really need to be 34 players deep? Should the designated hitter be used in ALL the all-star games, even in National League parks? Most importantly, WHO should select the All-Star players? What once was intended only to be a one-time exhibition as part of the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, has now become the game that determines home field advantage in the World Series (perhaps another point of contention?).
During the 1930s and 1940s, the MLB All-Star game managers chose the entire rosters. This quickly led to managerial bias, and so in 1947 fans were first given the opportunity to vote for the eight starters for each League. Everything was fine until 1957, when Cincinnati fans went crazy on their hometown team electing a Red to every starting position except first base, causing then Commissioner Ford Frick to remove two Reds from the team and discontinue fan voting. Fan voting was restored in 1970 as part of MLB’s attempts to “modernize the marketing of baseball”. It is a game for the fans, but too much local and regional ballot stuffing has created more of a mess than anything else. Did you know that each fan can vote up to 25 times for each email account they use?
Currently, 17 starters are voted by the fans. Depending on which publication or media outlet you chose, at least 7 of these 17 selections were WRONG! This year did set an all-time record with 34.9 million fan ballots being casted. Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton accumulated the most AL player votes with just over 11 million (previous record was 7.4 million votes for Jose Bautista last year). In the NL, San Francisco catcher Buster Posey set a new record with 7.6 million votes. Pitchers (5 starters and 3 relievers) and reserves (one back-up for each position) are chosen by a vote of players, managers, and coaches. Each All-Star squad manager, in consultation with other managers in his League and the Commissioner’s office, fills the roster up to 33 players. The remaining (34th) player for each squad is chosen by the “FINAL VOTE” by fans on five players from each League. (This year Yu Darvish-AL and David Freese-NL won the “FINAL VOTES”). This vote is so gimmicky since fans already vote for the starters, why is THIS vote so important? Lastly, after the rosters are selected, the MLB All-Star game managers and Commissioner’s office select any replacements needed for injured players or those that decline to participate.
Here’s my MLB All-Star Game voting recommendations:
Players know players best, so let the roster pools be established by player voting ONLY in each league by position. Just make sure they can’t vote for anyone on their own team. Until 2009, there were always 32 players on each squad, so let’s get back to tradition….keep it at 32! Also, we don’t necessarily need to be concerned with including a player from every team every year…..let the player voting determine that. Fans can vote starters from the roster pools as chosen by the players (but, only ONE ballot for each fan). Player voting should determine reserves, after fans have voted in the starters. Keep the managers and their inherent bias out of the voting altogether……..they have enough to do just to try and get everybody into the game, and win home field advantage for the Fall.
Oh yeah, one more important thing regarding MLB All-Star games……..the Commissioner’s office should select an MLB Hall of Fame legend from each League as a ceremonial bench coach. I seem to recall it’s been done before, but maybe not every year. As long as my baseball heroes like Mays, Aaron, Banks, Berra, Bench, Gibson, Seaver, Koufax, Ryan, Ford, Brett, Yaz, and even Rose are still breathing I will NEVER get tired of seeing them at the Midsummer Classic!
Filed under: Pro Baseball
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