Online balloting still leads to deserving players left out, even as baseball looks for new ways to engage fans in the process
Perhaps it’s a byproduct of the cynicism that surrounds everything society does or says these days, but we’ve always been a little suspicious of the way starters and reserves are chosen for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
You listen to how aggressively some teams promote their players, urging fans to vote early — and often — to make sure they make it. And yes, it’s the word “often” that is most troubling.
In this new season of American Idol, viewers were allowed to vote up to 10 times for each of their favorites, as if this was Illinois during the 1960 presidential election. See: Kennedy and organized crime.
This conquers up an interesting image: Teams asking their fans and interns to sit in front of their computers for hours hitting the enter key over and over and over for their own players.
Hey, that’s cheating!
In the old days, the sport relied on paper ballots, distributed at the ballpark. Fans would punch out tabs next to their favorite player’s names and then drop them into a big cardboard box.
This always conquered up an interesting image, as well: Teams asking their fans and interns to stack dozens of ballots and use a power drill to blow through the chads. See: 2000 presidential election.
Hey, that’s cheating!
This season, fans were allowed to vote up to 35 times, including five times within any 24-hour period. The persistent reaped the rewards. And this case that meant one player for each infield position and catcher, three players in the outfield and one DH for the American League.
The players add the reserves to the game, 15 players to each team. They can only vote for players in their own league. The managers that went to the 2017 World Series (Dave Roberts and A.J. Hinch) then add two or three players.
But even after the starting lineups are announced, there are always other issues that come up. And those relate to who didn’t make the team at all and why.
Can someone please explain how Tampa Bay starter Blake Snell was left home?
On Sunday, Tampa Bay starter David Archer took to social media to complain about the omission of his teammate, saying that his peers “didn’t do our due diligence” and that leaving Snell off the team was a joke. The players vote for the first five starting pitchers and first three relievers.
“Something like that can’t happen,” said Archer. “He leads the league in ERA. That means he’s given up the fewest amount of runs per nine innings out of any starting pitcher in the league. … Players, coaches, managers — we have to do a better job with the selection process so we can put the best talent out on the field for the fans in the Midsummer Classic. … If you didn’t have him on your ballot, I hope that next year you take it a little bit more serious and put in the due diligence, because this is important.”
Archer is right. The Yankees are reportedly targeting Snell (2.09 ERA, 12-4, 132 strikeouts in 116 innings and an opponent’s batting average of .183) as their big acquisition to bolster their pitching staff before the trade deadline.
And we all know, the Yankees are never wrong about these things, although Ed Whitson and Sonny Gray do tend to counter that theory.
By the way, the players voted for Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Corey Kluber, Justin Verlander and Chris Sale.
The players also vote for one backup at each position, including DH. MLB gets five open spots on the AL team. The problems for Snell began because the Rangers, A’s, Twins, Tigers and Blue Jays still didn’t have a player and every team needs to be represented by at least on player. And Tampa catcher Wilson Ramos was already on the team. So there was no room at the inn for the pitcher with the best numbers in the AL.
Still, there is hope for Snell. Some players always find a way to worm their way out of the game and you would think Hinch will immediately fill an open pitcher’s spot with Snell.
But we are still not done with the intrigue.
MLB allows fans to add one additional player from each league – the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Final Vote, if you are keeping score at home. The fans get to choose from five players nominated in each league.
The AL candidates are Boston’s Andrew Benintendi, the Angels Andrelton Simmons, Minnesota’s Eddie Rosario, the Yankees Giancarlo Stanton and Seattle shortstop Jean Segura.
The NL candidates are Max Muncy of the Dodgers, Jesus Aguilar of the Brewers, St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter, Brendon Belt of the Giants and Washington’s Trea Turner.
And the fans have until Wednesday at 4 p.m. to vote and vote and vote.
This is so troubling. What happened to one fan one vote? If you ask us, democracy has taken a big hit.