Despite desperate attempts by Major League Baseball to have the All-Star game remain relevant, they found a way to make selecting players for the game an even bigger joke than it already is.
Earlier this week MLB announced the rosters for the All-Star game to be held in San Diego on July 12. As has become the norm in recent years, one spot on each team is still up for grabs in the “Final Vote,” in which fans can vote for one of five players in each league to be the final players named to the All-Star game.
The original intent of the Final Vote was to avoid controversies in which managers were “snubbing” more deserving players and to allow the fans to pick the most deserving player. But now, teams with players in the Final Vote have partnered up to scam the voting process and to try to get more votes for their own players, completely nullifying the intent of the vote.
In this situation, two teams partner up to not only promote their own player, but also to ask their fans to vote for a player on one team in the other league. For example, the Rays are asking their fans to vote for Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and in exchange, the Diamondbacks are asking their fans to vote for Evan Longoria of the Rays.
Selecting players for Major League Baseball’s All-Star game is already a broken process.
It’s bad enough that the All-Star selection process is just a vote to see which team can get the most fans to vote through social media bombardment, regardless of actual stats or true stardom. It’s bad enough that individual fans are freely admitting on social media to voting hundreds and thousands of times for one player. And it is ridiculous that this is really just a marketing campaign for Esurance.
But now we have teams imploring their fans to vote for a player on another team in exchange for more votes for their own player.
The counter-argument is that All-Star game should be for “stars” just as much as it is for the best players, and one way to define stars is by popularity. That’s fine if it is one vote per fan, which is clearly not the case, something the teams are even promoting.
Another argument is that teams like the Diamondbacks and Rays are at a huge disadvantage when their player is going up against players from more popular teams like the Red Sox or Giants. That would be fine if the two most popular teams with players in the Final Vote weren’t teaming up to promote each other’s players.
The other big argument is that it is harmless. It is just a fun way to get the fans involved and the ultimate result doesn’t matter. If that’s the case, then don’t make home-field advantage for the World Series depend on which league wins the All-Star game. It is these final players on the roster who will be playing in the eighth and ninth inning of the All-Star game and who could help decide where Game 7 of the World Series will be played.
It can’t be both ways. You can’t argue that the voting is meaningless and then say the game means something. Either make the game a true exhibition — in which case it wouldn’t matter if ground sloths picked the rosters — or make the game meaningful and use an All-Star selection committee.
In a lot of ways, MLB’s All-Star game is a lot like the NFL’s catch rule. In an attempt to avoid the occasional fluky controversy, both leagues overly complicated something that doesn’t need to be complicated. In both cases, the end result has created far more controversy than the controversies they were trying to avoid. And that’s too bad.
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