Monday, July 03, 2006

Go Away All Star Game Whining

For many columnists, the day after All-Star selections is a good day to mail it in. In a way it makes sense: the Monday before July 4th is perfect for using a carbon copy article that you can Blackberry to your editor from the lake cabin or beach house. How else to explain the same generic columns every year. Every year there is outrage about stupid fans, egregious omissions, and the East Coast bias. I counter with Who Cares?

When was the last time people truly cared about the All-Star game? Who watches it? How serious can the selections truly be when fans vote, players vote and a manager gets to choose his own players? Plus every team must have a representative.
Every year there are mistakes and forced errors. This year KC’s Mark Redman and his 5.59 ERA are All-Star material. Sure there are 10-20 players that are better choices than Redman. So what? The people that plan on watching the game will watch whether Mark Redman or Method Man pitches two thirds of the seventh inning. The majority of people planning to watch the game will tune in whether Francisco Liriano or Nelson Liriano is on the AL roster. The larger population doesn't care.

Speaking of larger populations, so what if there are too many Yankees, Red Sox and Mets? There are more people in these cities so of course they will have more votes. It's the same reason why New York has more congressman and more electoral college votes. You can't penalize Yankee fans for loyalty to their guys. At least these teams are successful this year. It would be a bigger shame if the Cubs had 5 or 6 players heading to Pittsburgh.

Getting upset about it does nothing. Writing lame columns or devoting hours on talk radio about snubs and oversights is worse. Considering the awful PR state of baseball in recent years, it’s quite a feat that people care enough to vote.

I see very little wrong with the current setup. Let fans vote the starters, let the players vote the reserves. One tweak is removing the one player for every team requirement. Only the host team automatically gets a player.

As long as fans, the media and players all remember this is an exhibition game with less value than the World Baseball Classic, we're all better off. The greatest mistake is using the All-Star game to affect other events. World Series home field advantage is based on an exhibition with arbitrary rosters. Even worse, writers often cite All-Star appearances as a factor for other awards like the Hall of Fame. This is just wrong. The only honor attached to an All-Star appearance is recognition from your peers or fans for being popular, having a good half-season, or playing in a large city. To equate it to anything else is plain lazy. Much like many of the columns churned out on days like today.