The MLB All-Star game is the “American Idol” of professional sports. Home field advantage is not decided by a team’s record or even feats accomplished during the regular season, but instead it is determined by the fan. How can something so crucial in deciding the crowning of the world champions be left in the hands of the paying customer?
The worst part of it all is that fans do not even do a good job! They vote in players that used to be good or are from big market cities. Most of the time, the AL squad is comprised of all Yankees/Red Sox who are only voted in because of the numbers those respective cities can put up.
A prime example would be Derek Jeter be voting in as the starting shortstop for the AL team. His vote in was a “lifetime achievement award.” Jeter is not only having a down year, but was on the disabled list at the time. There are plenty of other players who have excelled at the position and carried their teams into contention that where snubbed out of a starting spot, see: Asdrubal Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta. It is unfair to allow fans to vote someone in only because of favoritism when there are players who have put up numbers deserving of a starting role.
My second biggest disappointment for a player being voted in was Pacido Polanco, at third base, for the NL team. Sure he started off great in the beginning of the year but his numbers have steadily regressed since the end of May. He has weak power numbers for a third baseman and he is not even owned in a 100% of ESPN fantasy baseball leagues!! Not even his stat line can compare to the player who should have initially been voted in by the fans, Aramis Ramirez.
Player A has a batting average of .274, 4 homeruns, 39 RBIs and an OPS of .676 where Player B has a batting average of .298, 15 homeruns, 51 RBIs and an OPS of .843. Which player do you think made the all star game? Player B (Aramis Ramirez) obviously should have been the starter but instead, Player A (Pacido Polanco) made the team. The only reason Polanco made the team is because of the Philadelphia fan base and the fact that the Cub’s season failures overshadowed Ramirez’s efforts.
Yes it was found that Ramirez respectively declined the invitation from Bruce Bochy to start at third after it was found out that Polanco will be sitting the game out due to injury. It turns out that he had plans to visit his family in the Dominican Republic and cited this as his reason for not attending. An understandable excuse, but I think the real reason he turned it down was because he had felt disrespected. If he was on the initial roster, Aramis would have stayed in the states and represented his team and fan base because he earned it. His decision to stick with his plans is a silent gesture showing his dissatisfaction for not making the team when he knows he should have. Could he be the first crusader for a revolution in the All Star voting process?
Whatever happens, a change needs to be made to make the game fair for deciding home field advantage and rewarding players for their efforts. The core of the MLB All Star game voting system needs to be completely overhauled. The vote needs to be taken out of the hands of the “uneducated” fan, those who do not respect player’s stats from other teams, and place it in the hands of those who can vote for players deserving to make the squad due to their efforts preceding the game.
The NFL Pro Bowl can be a benchmark for the change. Their vote is split into thirds, which has the fans, coaches, and players determining who will make the teams. This will not solve all the problems but will drastically bring down players being snubbed while at the same time keeping the fan connection to the game. MLB officials will still be scared that the change would take away from viewership but instead, it should bring the “real” baseball fan to watch the game and bring credibility to a game with such a great impact to the playoffs.
I vote for a change in ’12, and I hope you all rally behind me.