There’s a couple of broken “things” about the All-Star Game, and today I wish to humbly offer suggestions to resolve each one. So without further ado…
PROBLEM: this ballot-box stuffing is ridiculous. And it happens on multiple levels:
- In stadium. Teams with extra home dates during the balloting period will have increased chances for their fans to vote. Teams with more competitive home dates during the balloting period will have increased chances for their fans to vote since higher attendance will be involved. This year, Colorado and Milwaukee had particularly high vote response from their fan bases. On top of that, all willing fans can take ballots by the armfull.
- Via mlb.com. Individuals can vote 35 times each per email address for their favorite players. This effectively limits voting to the zeal of the participant since email addresses are hardly a barrier.
- Nationally. Red Sox and Yankee players typically have a built-in advantage since they have the largest national followings. Arguably, that’s okay since if the fans are to be involved, they want to see “their guys” make the game.
- Each team receives a maximum of 200,000 ballots they can distribute at any time during June. When they’re gone, they’re gone.
- Via Internet/mlb.com, voting shall be limited to 1 ballots per IP address. IP addresses can be spoofed or otherwise modified, but there’s a limit to that. Additionally, most people wouldn’t go to the trouble.
- Via twitter: One hashtag per position player per account.
- Via text: One vote per phone number.
I’m up to over 100 votes for Justin Upton myself via mlb.com, and the twitter voting doesn’t happen until Thursday (10am-4pm EDT, #VoteJUp). But that’s kinda silly and I’m doing it only as a means of passing time between other tasks. I envision armies of interns at team offices who are spending 8 hours a day of carpal-tunnel-syndrome-inducing clicks and types to do this thousands of times a day – each.
Let’s stop the silliness and limit the voting – we’re still fans, and we still like our players… but enough is enough.
The Significance of the Game
PROBLEM: When all is said and done, it’s still an exhibition based on a popularity contest. If you want the game to “count”, then you’d better start first by:
- Eliminating the practice of guaranteeing at least one representative per team. You’d better concentrate on getting the very best players… and by that I mean the best performers of the past 2-3 weeks. Yoenis Cespedes? Probably All-Star worthy, but he’s hitting .111 so far in July, so now I’m not sure.
- Eliminating the fan vote entirely. Not gonna happen. But if it did, then maybe the aging stars can be left at home while the actual Best Players of the First Half get to strut their stuff.
- Giving the manager incentive to pick a team that will win. Like a bonus check. Then maybe Pat Neshek won’t be on the team.
- Get rid of the stupid ‘World Series Home Advantage’ thing. I don’t think the fate of the National or American League champion should rest on one night’s performance of the lone representative of the San Diego Padres (for example). By the way: that’s pitcher Tyson Ross this year (12th among NL starters in ERA).
- Game profits from merchandising, TV, radio, whatever should go into a fund.
- 20% of that fund goes to winning players/coaches.
- 50% of that fund goes to charity, distributed to the designated favorite charity of the players/coaches of the winning team.
- The rest goes to MLB charities, including those local to the annual game site.
- Losers get nothing.
If you want the World Series home advantage thing to change, then I have an idea on that as well. In the past, the venue alternated from league to league since it was difficult to judge which league was ‘better’. It still is, since inter-league play isn’t definitive, and National League teams are at a natural disadvantage (having no full-time DH). So even something simple like “team with the best record” having home field advantage is easy, but still not preferred.
I propose that the team with the World Series team with best record host the first 2 games. Then move to their opponent’s city for two games. Then play any/all remaining games at a neutral field – alternating NL/AL parks from year-to-year. There would have to be backup sites available if, for instance, Wrigley Field is the designated neutral site and the Cubs actually make the World Series. But that would also put some new energy into the Series – in additional to bringing the event to more/different places each year.
But there you go: two modest proposals made in the hopes of improving the integrity of a game that is still a great spectacle every Summer.
Let’s see what you think!