EDITOR'S NOTE: MAURY BROWN WILL BE REPORTING FROM THE 2010 MLB ALL-STAR GAME BEGINNING MONDAY, THE 12th.
Maybe the best way to highlight how MLB’s All-Star Game is a ballot box stuffing escapade where some of the league's most talented players are relegated to second class citizens comes in the form of the National League’s shafting on a number of levels.
The voting system, which is really nothing more than a popularity contest propped up by the league and its clubs sees a number of players missing from the rosters that should be.
(SEE THE VOTING RESULT)
Take Joey Votto for example. The Reds first baseman leads the NL in batting average (.313), OPS (.988), and is second behind only Albert Pujols (barely) for OBP (Votto’s is .414 to Pujols’ .415). Yeah, one could understand Pujols beating out Votto as a starter, but the poor guy didn’t even get in as a reserve. Votto garnered 1,145,883 votes, landing him at #5 in the NL voting for 1B. Meanwhile, Prince Fielder pulled in 1,215,876 and Troy Glaus garnered 1,265,126. Second behind Pujols? Ryan Howard at 1,693,134.
According to Todd Zolcki (via Twitter), Phillies beat writer for MLB.com, why Charlie Manuel picked Ryan Howard over Joey Votto for the NL All-Star team: "He’s my guy. He’s my player. My guy."
Joe Posnanski got it right. "Building an All-Star roster is a complicated matter -- but here's a hint. You START with Joey Votto. Then go from there."
Kinda of describes the selection process in a nutshell, doesn't it?
Then there’s the Padres who lead all of MLB in team ERA (3.06), and yet, in a ballot of players and managers, not a single Friar pitcher made the cut. Sorry, Jon Garland.
At least Martín Prado of the Braves got some love as a reserve if only because Chase Utley is on the DL by garnering the second most votes for the NL at second base (2,023,051 to Utley’s 3,616,038).
And, it wasn’t just the NL that sees its share of gaffes. The AL got some in, as well.
Hey, Kevin Youkilis, maybe you’ll get in on that final fan vote. After all, you rank #1 in the AL in SLG (.576), OPS (.991) and OBP (.415), while pulling in 16 homeruns, a distant second to José Bautista of the Blue Jays (21). Youk’s 1,317,927 votes for AL third baseman ranked him #4 behind Mark Teixeira (2,459,015), Miguel Cabrera (2,586,207), and Justin Morneau (2,933,355).
There is some justice to the system, of course. Fans were talking about how weird it was to hear that Alex Rodriguez had made the All-Star Game…. As a reserve. Okay, so A-Rod leads the AL in RBIs (61), but he ranks 6th for the AL in AVG (.278), OBP (.351), SLG (.491) and OPS (.842).
And then, when you think it's all about popularity, Washington Nationals pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg misses the cut. Yeah, he's only had 6 starts, but if popularity is the driver, why wouldn't you want him in the line up? Besides, for an inning, he's likely to strike out the side. Charlie Manuel decided against.
The All-Star Game voting system is a sham. Fans can vote up to 25 times online (and, you can get around that by registering on multiple computers), lending itself to the ballot box stuffing nightmare. Look, have the fans be part of the voting, but 25 times? Why not make it unlimited? If you’re going to make this about page hits on MLB.com, go the distance.
This isn’t about to change any time soon. Why the league decided to allow fans to vote so many times is clearly a decision made by some suits in marketing. Why are pitchers selected by the players and managers, but not position players? Mark it all down under #FAIL.
History will say these players were “All-Stars”, which means that many aren’t the best, just “popular”, and even then, it’s debatable. Remember that in a few years when you look back through the history books.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
Follow Maury Brown on Twitter
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter
Follow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook