It's the first week in July, which means that MLB All-Star rosters have been announced. Ladies and gentlemen, start your griping.
This happens every year, just like when I eat too much food on the 4th and swear to never do it again. The All-Star selection is just the same - I cast between five and ten ballots, get upset when the fans pick the major market players (read: Boston, New York) and swear to remove myself from the process completely. For every intelligent vote I cast, there seem to be twenty to thirty people who fill out their ballouts something like this: "OMGZORS! I love the Yankees so much that I'm going to vote for the entire team 20 times!"
Please bludgeon me over the head now.
Granted, my aforementioned (and quasi-hypothetical) quote from "Anonymous Fan 101" is always going to be out there. For whatever force of nature was present in this year's fan balloting, it seemed like Brewers fans were the ones stuffing the ballots in favor for their entire roster. Bill Hall was second in 3B voting through the early part of June and is having the worst season of his career. But I digress; here's what I've had in mind for the past few years:
If the MLB All-Star Game means this much, let the players pick the team. After all, they're the ones that are going to want it the most if home field advantage is the end all, be all scale-tipper. (Last year's Phillies would beg to differ.) The facts are plain and simple - on the whole, fans are not that smart. They're incredibly biased and rarely know of players outside their own market. The ones they do know are generally overrated and/or one-dimensional. Tell me one reason why the Rangers' Josh Hamilton was picked to start other than his Home Run Derby performance last year.
The fans are pretty much making my point for me with that one.
A lot of people are going to complain: "We deserve a chance to vote! We promise not to overload the ballots with players from our team!" As much as I'd like to believe in the general good-naturedness of sports society, let's fast forward to 2010. OK, nameless, faceless baseball fan, who'd you vote for this year? Did you keep that promise you made me?
"I had my fingers crossed!"
"Sorry, wasn't listening."
"But I really DO think that Dustin Pedroia should start all nine positions for the American League team!"
And this is why I'm no longer trustworthy of the general public. I really do think that the players and managers would get it right, and even the sportswriters would come close to a perfect roster. The fans? Well, let's just put it this way: While I do agree that Derek Jeter should make the team this year, he's not the best shortstop in the league this year - that would go to Jason Bartlett - and he garnered the most votes in the league, making it more about celebrity and history than statistics.
But let's not throw out the baby with the bath water here, there's still room for the fans to vote. I do like the last chance ballot the league instituted a few years back and frankly I find more excitement in finding who gets picked off that list than the starting lineup. The last chance ballot has also proven to work fairly well, with fans being able to compare numbers more closely (they only have five athletes to look at instead of hundreds). I also like the representation factor in the All-Star game. Sure, some years there are teams that don't deserve an All-Star, but as a diehard fan I know how cool it is to have your team represented. And I can't really say that a team shouldn't have an All-Star, because otherwise there would've been a VERY long stretch where my Twins didn't deserve a selection (Paging: Ron Coomer, Matt Lawton, Eddie Guardado, etc.).
So with all that ranting and raving, here's how I would comprise the All-Star Teams:
15 players (9 Starters and 6 pitchers) picked by the players themselves, including the starting pitcher: This gives the players the ability to pick all the starters, and almost half the total roster. (15 players/35 man roster)
10 reserves (combination of position players and pitchers) picked by the yearly manager: This gives the manager enough wiggle room to adequately fill out a deep roster. ALSO, it would be the manager's duty to pick reserves that would fulfill the requirement of having each team represented by at least one player. (25/35)
5 reserves picked by the sportswriters: They follow the league as intensely as the guys who play the game, they're knowledgeable, and are generally very good at picking players who are sometimes overlooked. (30/35)
5 reserves picked by the fans: As stated earlier, I like the last chance ballot; however, the players who make the last chance ballot aren't selected by the fans. These last five players would be selected by the old method of "whoever has the most votes, wins." Top five vote-getters would make the team. (35/35)
Fans would also be responsible for picking the Home Run Derby lineup. (Figured I'd throw them another bone.)
As stated in the manager picks, each team would be represented.
The All-Star Game will NOT end in a tie. To semi-quote Tyler Durden: "Games will go on as long as they have to."
So with that, let the comments (I'm guessing mostly negative) ensue. I know it's not a perfect formula and I know that I'm a fan myself so I don't know how much authority I actually have in suggesting a new selection method, but what's in place isn't working.
Keep your stick on the ice,