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Online All-Star Voting: Popularity Contest or "Balanced"? PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 01 July 2008 10:46

Maury BrownDerek Jeter is hitting .280, has 4 HRs and 35 RBIs. Rankings? Jeter ranks tied for 36th in Avg., tied for 96th in HRs, and tied at 50th for RBIs.

He’s also ranked #2 in American League All-Star voting with 2,507,534.

There are other examples. Ichiro Suzuki, who is dazzling to watch, is currently having his worst season yet, but leads voting in the AL for outfielders.

Most talented rosters? You make the call. 

Such is how the All-Star Game’s rosters have been formed. With the outcome of the game hinging on who will have home field advantage for the World Series, the game has become a showcase for players that are, in some cases, the most popular rather than the most talented.

Maybe that’s the definition of “Star” but it calls into question whether managers are given the best tools to help win the game for their respective leagues.

One of the questions that many have had revolves around allowing fans to vote up to 25 times online via MLB.com. Press releases are issued touting the tight races, the fact that fans can no longer cast ballots at the ballpark, yet have the option of using the internet to push votes for their favorite player.

As an example, a press release today states:

The majority of individual races are still undetermined and getting closer as the Monster All-Star Online Ballot enters the final 36 hours of voting at a record-setting pace with the current total already surpassing the 150 million votes from 2007. Fan voting in this critical stretch run can be done exclusively on MLB.com and all 30 individual club sites until the Monster All-Star Online Ballot Program concludes at 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday, July 2.

Ballot stuffing? Not according to MLB Advanced Media. When asked how the “vote up to 25 times” aspect was reached, MLBAM spokesman Matthew Gould said it allows for a more balanced outcome.

“It has always been done to mirror the amount of home dates that each club has to distribute and collect offline ballots in ballpark,” Gould said. “We believe the evidence shows that online voting has had the opposite impact in that it has more equally balanced voting. Fans have consistently demonstrated themselves to be extremely knowledgeable in the process. The success of Josh Hamilton and Ryan Braun are just two of the excellent examples of that this year.”

And therein lies the question: Does the likes of Josh Hamilton and Ryan Braun offset the selection of someone like Derek Jeter? Does the system allow for the best talent, as well as the most popular players to be showcased?

Most diehard fans of the game will tell you that it is the latter rather than the former. It has become a popularity contest. After all, what’s to keep someone from selecting Richie Sexson in, regardless of a lackluster season? Could one register under multiple email addresses from separate locations and vote someone undeserving in? If “Star” equals popularity, then why not?

 What do you think of the All-Star voting process? Leave us your comments



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