Taylor's Twins Talk

Focusing on the Twins, with a few ramblings on other things that catch my attention

Monday, June 19, 2006

All-Star Game Thoughts: Part 1

With the All-Star game just 22 days away, and fan voting ending at the end of June, I thought it was an appropriate time to make a few comments about the game itself, and the players that I think should end up playing in Pittsburgh in a few weeks. This is going to be a serialized post, because it is a big topic and I don't want it to be overwhelming.

Fan Voting

I'm not opposed in principle to fan voting; this is, after all, an All-Star game. Who better than the fans to determine what constitutes an All-Star. If Derek Jeter were to ever have an off-year, for example, and the fans wanted to see him at the game? Ok, fine. I have no problem with that. My problem is with the decision to let fans vote for the starters.

Being tabbed an All-Star is an award to a player who has performed far and away above his peers over the course of the half-season. It is an acknowledgement of hard work and success. There is no more visible spot in the All-Star game (other than All-Star MVP I suppose) than All-Star starter. Few people remember the guy that comes in to play during the 5th and 6th innings.

For that reason, I don't think the fans should be voting for the starters. I do, however, think there is a place for fan voting in the All-Star game. My preferred solution? Have a committee of players, managers, general managers and reporters (and I'm not going to take a stand on how to compose that committee) select the starters and reserves. Heck, have multiple committees or voting groups to select different segments (one for starters, one for reserves, whatever). Then, AFTER those groups have made their selection, have the fans vote for the last 5 guys who get into the game.

I think this is much more likely to properly reward the players who are doing well, while retaining a place in the game for fan-favorites who are having down years. It also removes the completely absurd result of having every Yankee and Red Sox starter, regardless of how well they are playing, be in the top echelons of fan voting. This pheonmenon has gotten so bad that if fan voting were to end today, 7 of the 8 starting players (excluding the starting pitcher) would be Yankees or Red Sox. I'm not going to say that's unfair, because those fans are more numerous and they're succesfully overwhelming the process. It is completely absurd, however, and for that reason I think change needs to be made.

This is probably a pipe dream. Major League Baseball is too invested in the idea of fans voting for the All-Star starters. That doesn't mean I can't dream for change.

Winning Team as World Series Host

This idea has gotten a lot of flack since it was introduced by Bud Selig. I'm firmly on the side that says this is a bad idea, and there are several reasons for that. First and foremost, this is an exhibition game. It shouldn't count for anything, especially not determining who gets home-field advantage in the sports' championship series. Any good that it brings about (players playing more aggressively, managers managing more like it was a real game) is completely offset by the complete absurdity that is present.

There is another reason that this just doesn't make any sense, however, and that is the ease with which an alternative means of selecting home-field advantage could be made. The simplest, best solution is to simply give home-field advantage in the World Series to the participant with the better record over the course of the season. The Yankees go 98-64 and face the 97-65 Dodgers? Four games in Yankee Stadium are coming our way. The biggest knock against this plan is that, for the most part, the teams play vastly different schedules. It's still a better system than the arbitrary All-Star game method.

One other solution would be to have the league that has a better record in Interleague Play get home-field advantage. This has the advantage, like the All-Star game, of giving the league that appears to be better the advantage in the World Series. However, I don't like the idea of a series between the Royals and Pirates determining who gets homefield advantage in the World Series, as it very well might. Leagues don't play in the World Series, teams do.

I'll post some more All-Star thoughts soon, probably turning to a discussion of the players who should make the game at each position, and who actually will make the team.


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