December 21, 2014

MLB perpetrates All-Star fiasco

June 15, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

“Vote early and vote often.”

In the biggest electoral fraud since the 2000 presidential election, Major League Baseball and its 30 teams are telling fans to choose All-Star Game lineups by voting up to 25 times.

They can do it on the internet or at the ballpark. It really doesn’t matter.

The Yankees even show a minute-long scoreboard ad depicting two “instructors” urging kids at a long rectangular table to vote for the entire New York lineup. The adults name the position, then urge the kids to say in unison  the name of the Yankee player who plays it.

It is not only the most blatant display of favoritism ever to invade the Bronx but also a sure way to guarantee the American League’s starting first baseman has a lower batting average than Mario Mendoza.

That’s right, Mark Teixeira: there’s no way you should show your face in Anaheim on July 13.

Braves broadcaster Jim Powell was right when he said the All-Star voting has deviated from a popularity contest to a ballot-box stuffing contest.

Either way, that’s not what sportswriter Arch Ward intended when he created what he called the Dream Game as an adjunct to the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago.

Under the current system, fans of teams that draw well — such as the Yankees — have an unfair advantage over teams that don’t. On the other hand, the rule mandating at least one player from every team is archaic and needs to go the same way as the rule allowing rain to shorten games.

Who wants to see an “All-Star” from this year’s Baltimore Orioles or Houston Astros?

But even that would be better than seeing the entire Yankees lineup.

Ford Frick was right when he stripped the fans of their voting privileges in 1957 after Cincinnati fans stuffed the ballot boxes in a well-orchestrated example of voter abuse. He vetoed the selections of George Crowe and Wally Post, replacing them with a couple of guys named Stan Musial and Hank Aaron.

After the vote was given to players, coaches, and managers, they were forbidden from voting for teammates. They also had only one vote each.

Until Bowie Kuhn blundered into the Commissioner’s office with an owner-induced mandate to increase fan involvement, All-Star lineups were selected by the men in uniform while All-Star managers filled out the balance of their squads.

Players cared if their leagues won, even without the ridiculous incentive of the winning league getting home-field advantage in the World Series.

The prestige of those days has long disappeared into the dustbin of history.

Thanks to the fan voting, Davey Lopes became a 1981 All-Star even though his batting average at the time was .169, worst in All-Star history. Reggie Jackson, mired in a first-half slump, once won a place on the team while hitting .199. And Luis Aparicio was picked after he retired.

Some Commissioner somewhere should have seen these inequities and returned the vote to the men in uniform — or at least instituted a one-third system, with the fan vote counting for one-third, the player vote counting for one-third, and the media vote counting for the final third.

Ford Frick, a man of integrity who began as a sportswriter himself, surely would have done it.

Under the current structure, though, the National League’s leading hitter (Martin Prado) and its top RBI man (Troy Glaus) might not even make the squad, at least not if it were finalized today. Glaus, a third baseman playing first this year, has no chance behind Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, and the nominal San Diego selection, Adrian Gonzalez.

Should the All-Star Game consist of players “the fans want to see?” Or should it consist of the most deserving players for the good of the game and its legacy?

The choice is obvious.

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is the author of The 300 Club: Have We Seen the Last of Baseball’s 300-Game Winners? and 34 previous books.

Comments

One Response to “MLB perpetrates All-Star fiasco”
  1. Jeff Polman says:

    Good piece, Dan. I’ve written on Seamheads before about this, but MLB annually shows it has absolutely no clue what to do with this game. If it now “means something” and determines home field for the World Series, how can they possible justify stuffing ballot boxes and/or mandating a player included from every team? Make up your damn minds already!

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