The other day I received an email from the Chicago Cubs suggesting that if I participated in the fan voting 35 times one of the Cubs players might make the July 16 All-Star team. For a while it seemed as if I was receiving New York Mets emails on a daily basis pumping up David Wright‘s candidacy.
From the creation of the game in the 1930s, there has always been some ambivalency about just how much power to give the fans when choosing the American League and National League All-Star squads. The privilege has been shaped and reshaped over the decades. Once upon a time Major League Baseball revoked the privilege altogether for a while because fans stuffed the ballot box and the world ended up with just about all Cincinnati Reds in the NL starting lineup. That’s why seven Reds were in the 1957 starting lineup.
Now teams are actually encouraging the exact same type of behavior. I find this annoying. Being chosen for the All-Star team is supposed to be an honor. If fans are told to vote for players just because they are wearing the home jersey it cheapens the honor. There has never been a perfect solution to how to pick an All-Star team. When the job was left to baseball people, like the manager of the AL or NL team, there were always accusations of politics. The manager got blamed for rewarding his personal favorites over top players from opposing teams.
You can’t win.
Right now the selection process is a blend. Fans can obtain ballots at ballparks. They can vote on-line. The high voters win the starting jobs. Backups are chosen by the manager. That would seem to be the best system of checks and balances available in an endeavor that is not a precise science. Given that players receive substantial contract bonuses when they make an All-Star team significant dollars can be at stake due to the whims of fans that don’t know anything about the true worthiness of the players they are voting for 35 times.
This is not to suggest that fans should be cut out of the process altogether, but some logic and responsibility should be applied to the voting process. This idea of repeated, blind voting is what gets me. It’s not practical to apply the same standards of the voting booth for president to voting for the baseball All-Star team. But maybe there is a way to limit the number of times someone votes through some type of coding system.
Under baseball rules, each team must have a representative on the All-Star team each year, so that already contributes to the periodic non-deserving player being selected. The squad has also been expanded and expanded so that it is easier than it ever was to make the All-Star team. Those aspects of the team selection should cover anyone who really deserves to there.
Yet there are always complaints about certain players being left off the team. Could be because some teams are stuffing the ballot box for the undeserving.
Off-hand, I can’t think of anyone on the Cubs who deserves to be in the All-Star game. As for David Wright, the campaign on his behalf is based on the fact that the game is scheduled to be played at Citi Field, the Mets’ home stadium and the feeling it would be nice if the home team had a starter. Wright is a .300 hitter who has played well enough to be an All-Star, but the artificial campaign seems to be a cheesy way to go about getting him into the game.