Monday, July 2, 2012

How we fix the All-Star Game

Alright. I've had it up to here (holding my hand level with my forehead) with baseball's All-Star Game. This season is the last straw. How many deserving players can be robbed of being All-Stars because of selfish, ill-informed fans and selfish, ill-informed players and managers? If this game really "counts" (which is a whole different argument I'm not getting in to), then how come the selection process is such a scam? Even if this game didn't matter - and in my mind, it has to if it gives a league home field advantage in the World Series - I'd still be upset because being named an All-Star is a great honor. It was cool to be named to my little league's All-Star Game in sixth and seventh grade. Guys who deserve to be there...should be there! So how do we fix it? Do we completely eliminate the fan aspect from the voting? Do we give them even more power? Please read on if you do so choose if you'd like to find out.

Let's start from the top with the players who are selected to start the All-Star Game via fan voting. These are the starting lineups for the American and National Leagues:


C - Mike Napoli (A.J. Pierzynski)
1B - Prince Fielder (Paul Konerko)
2B - Robinson Cano
3B - Adrian Beltre
SS - Derek Jeter (Asdrubal Cabrera)
OF - Jose Bautista
OF - Curtis Granderson (Mark Trumbo)
OF - Josh Hamilton
DH - David Ortiz


C - Buster Posey (Carlos Ruiz)
1B - Joey Votto
2B - Dan Uggla
3B - Pablo Sandoval (David Wright)
SS - Rafael Furcal (Jed Lowrie)
OF - Melky Cabrera (Andrew McCutchen)
OF - Matt Kemp (Ryan Braun)
OF - Carlos Beltran

Okay. Some of these selections are an absolute joke, and some of them don't even deserve to be All-Stars in the first place (I bolded such players). And out of the 17 players that fans voted to be starters, only eight were deserving of these spots. Now normally, fans do a much better job than this, but this year apparently San Francisco was pumping drugs into the drinking water because their fans messed everything up. Pablo Sandoval isn't even eligible for the batting title, let alone considered a top four third his own league! Shit...even Aramis Ramirez is more deserving than Panda. If Sandoval wasn't like anyone else on this planet, he would give up his roster spot to someone more deserving, but I certainly won't hold anything against him for playing. Another brain fart from the anyone aware that Kemp has missed half the season with injury? Dude won't even be able to play in the All-Star Game, but that didn't stop fans from blindly penciling him in their ballots. Buster Posey is another product of Giants' fans being Giants' fans ahead of baseball fans. Yeah, you can vote for your entire team over and over again, but it doesn't make it right. Ryan Braun was the only Brewer I voted for, and the only Giant they should have been voting for is the Milk Man.

But guess what? I'm not going to eliminate fan voting. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to revamp the ballot. First of all, can we do a better job of who we actually put on the ballot? For example, Mat Gamel and Alex Gonzalez stayed on the ballot throughout the entire voting process despite going out in the first month with season ending injuries. Corey Hart is a freaking first baseman for God's sake, and he's still listed as an outfielder. Nori Aoki is an every day player now, and his name is nowhere to be found. Sorry if this costs you some of your precious money, Major League Baseball, but how about you update your ballots every now and then? Don't just look at the opening day lineup and assume that's how it'll stay the entire year (especially this year, seeing how injuries have ravaged teams all over the league...I'm just using the Brewers as an example). But that's not even the biggest problem I have with the ballot. While updating the names on the ballot, say, once every week or two, we should also input statistics on each ballot and update those every few weeks. Fans look at a ballot, see a name they recognize (see: Derek Jeter), and automatically pop a hole next to their name. But what if they see that Derek Jeter actually has the fourth or fifth best statistics among AL shortstops and see that Asdrubal Cabrera is without question deserving of the start? Then I'm hoping this would change their mind, and they'd vote for Cabrera (of course unless they're Giant fans).

Call me crazy, but shouldn't All-Stars be determined based on the numbers they put up? I'm not taking the power of the vote away from the fans...I'm simply making them smarter and more informed. It's up to the moral values of the fan whether or not they want to be "selfish" and continue voting for their entire team to fill out the roster. I'm looking at you, Giants' fans.

Still, fans aren't the only issue with how the All-Star rosters are assembled. Players and managers fill out the remainder of the roster, and this season there seemed to be just as many injustices done by those who play and coach the game. Here's one problem - ex-manager/lunatic Tony LaRussa is managing the National League after retiring at the conclusion of last season. Now I'm sure LaRussa still follows the sport of baseball to an extent, but I vehemently disagree that he should be coaching this game, let alone selecting nine of the roster slots. Again, if this game really matters so much, how can a guy living at a retirement home be responsible for 16 teams vying for home field advantage in the World Series? So of course, LaRussa botched some picks and the players did as well. This also goes for AL manager Ron Washington and the AL players, although they (and their fans) did a much better job. I didn't take away the voting power from the fans, but I'm going to take it away from the players and managers. Aren't they too busy doing what they have to do for their own teams? The fans probably watch more baseball than the players, and we've already got them screwing up, so let's just let the players play, the coaches coach and the fans cheer...and vote.

I'm going to bring up that crazy "statistics" word again because, you know, it kind of gauges how good a player is or something wacky like that. Judging by my rule changes on how ballots should look for the fans, I'm going to make the assumption they select players who are at least deserving of an All-Star roster spot, if not a starting position.  Therefore, with all the advanced statistics we have these days along with people becoming smarter about which of these statistics actually matters, I feel this is the best way to determine who fills out the remaining roster slots. Of course, we can't forget that every team needs to be represented (another rule I would change if this game truly matters). Let's begin with the position players that SHOULD be playing in Kansas City on July 10.


C - Pierzynski (CWS) - Joe Mauer (MIN) - Matt Wieters (BAL)
1B - Konerko (CWS) - Prince Fielder (DET)
2B - Cano (NYY) - Jason Kipnis (CLE)
3B - Beltre (TEX) - Miguel Cabrera (DET)
SS - A. Cabrera (CLE) - Elvis Andrus (TEX) - Derek Jeter (NYY)
OF - Bautista (TOR) - Adam Jones (BAL) - Granderson (NYY)
OF - Trumbo (LAA) - Mike Trout (LAA)
OF - Hamilton (TEX) - Josh Reddick (OAK)
DH - Ortiz (BOS) - Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)


C - Ruiz (PHI) - Yadier Molina (STL) - Posey (SF)
1B - Votto (CIN) - Bryan LaHair (CHC)
2B - Uggla (ATL) - Brandon Phillips (CIN)
3B - Wright (NYM) - David Freese (STL) - Chase Headley (SD)
SS - Lowrie (HOU) - Ian Desmond (WSH)
OF - Braun (MIL) - M. Cabrera (SF) - Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)
OF - Beltran (STL) - Carlos Gonzalez (COL) - Matt Holliday (STL)
OF - McCutchen (PIT) - Michael Bourn (ATL)

Yikes. On paper, it looks like the American League is going to destroy the National League. Then again, we haven't gotten to the pitchers yet, so let's get to it.


SP - Chris Sale (CWS) - David Price (TB) - Jered Weaver (LAA) - Justin Verlander (DET) - C.J. Wilson (LAA) - Jake Peavy (CWS) - Felix Hernandez (SEA) - Matt Harrison (TEX)
RP - Jim Johnson (BAL) - Fernando Rodney (TB) - Jonathan Broxton (KC) - Joe Nathan (TEX)


SP - R.A. Dickey (NYM) - Johnny Cueto (CIN) - Matt Cain (SF) - Zack Greinke (MIL) - Wade Miley (ARZ) - Stephen Strasburg (WSH) - Clayton Kershaw (LAD) - Gio Gonzalez (WSH) - James McDonald (PIT)
RP - Craig Kimbrel (ATL) - Joel Hanrahan (PIT) - Aroldis Chapman (CIN) - Huston Street (SD)

FINAL VOTE (AL): OF Josh Willingham (MIN), OF Austin Jackson (DET), RP Chris Perez (CLE), DH Adam Dunn, SP Yu Darvish
FINAL VOTE (NL): SP Ryan Vogelsong (SF), 2B Aaron Hill (ARZ), 3B Chipper Jones (ATL), OF Bryce Harper (WSH), SP Cole Hamels (PHI)

BOLD = Not originally included on roster

There. Not sure how much you guys get out of that other than my inclusion of Greinke, but this is who should be in the All-Star Game, bottom line (pending any injuries or guys who are starting on the Sunday before the ASG). I also included who should be included in the final vote because no matter which way you cut it, a few guys are going to be left out who are deserving of an All-Star spot. Granted, a few of the guys who were snubbed will obtain roster spots as a result of the Sunday-start rule or injuries, so it ends up being fairly fair in the end, but it should never come down to that in the first place. With my roster, everyone is deserving, every team is represented and players who didn't make it that may have deserved it are involved in the final vote. Whew. Glad I could get that off my chest.

The Brewers trade watch is on. This week could be the final nail in the coffin depending on how the Brewers do entering the All-Star break. Their next seven games? Four at home against the Miami Marlins and three on the road against the Houston Astros. Well...if the Brewers can't have a winning record during that stretch, then it's officially time to throw in the towel and Greinke might be leaving Kansas City in a different uniform (I'm banking on Greinke being named to the All-Star me hopeful). So yeah. This week is kind of important.

Stay cool out there. Current 620 Lincoln temp: 92. Pray for me.

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