Sunday, July 22, 2012

My Problems with the MLB All-Star Game

It's that time of year again (well, past that time, by now). That's right! Major League Baseball's All-Star Weekend and all the festivities that it brings. (By the way, I've always found it odd that baseball calls it All-Star Weekend when the game is on a Tuesday). For those of you that don't follow baseball or missed the game, the San Francisco Giants National League won, giving them home field advantage in the World Series.  The City by the Bay was well represented with Melky Cabrera winning MVP, Pablo Sandoval hitting the first ever bases clearing triple in All-Star Game history, Buster Posey catching some solid innings, and Matt Cain dominating the first couple innings as the NL starter, making it relatively easy for the NL to hang on.

Prior to the game, nationally the Giants fans were ripped for "stuffing the voting" so that Giants players would make the cut over others. Giants' fans did not take kindly to this accusation, and have had an attitude of "told you so" ever since the game. Being a Giants fan, I was fine with the representation SF got, but being an aspiring sports writer, it was also easy for me to see the point the national audience had. Let's break it down.

Melky Cabrera and Matt Cain deserved to be there. No question.
Pablo Sandoval was hurt for awhile and though he's good, David Wright should have started over him.
Buster Posey is a bit of an anomaly because he got to start after Yadier Molina had to leave for personal reasons and sat out the festivities. Lots of people wanted to see Carlos Ruiz start over Posey, and I wouldn't have had a problem with it, but Posey is having a great year behind the dish and I was okay with him starting as well.

The problem with the All-Star Game and how players are selected? They're voted in by fans, who have proven for years they're not experts on the sport. Fans vote in their favorite players, regardless of the year they're having. This happens in both baseball and basketball. Basketball is the worst with Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming consistently being voted into All-Star Games way past their actually good years. Baseball isn't quite as bad, but I still disagree with allowing fans to vote on it.

Baseball needs to stop having the All-Star Game mean anything also. The whole "it matters now" is stupid. A one game exhibition between the two leagues should not determine who gets home field advantage in the World Series. It should go to the team with the best record at the end of the year.

I propose that baseball does one of two things in the future:

1) Stop letting the fans vote in anyone, and reward the players with the best stats in the big categories (hits, home runs, runs batted in, batting average, etc. for batters; wins, strikeouts, WHIP, earned run average, saves, etc. for pitchers). Then we would truly see the best players in the game represented at each All-Star Game and there wouldn't be any upset people screaming "My player leads the league in every stat but isn't starting! This is stupid and is because ESPN is biased!"

2) This is the alternate route that I would hate, but understand. That is, stop caring about stats or anything and let the fans vote in every player AND what position they play. If fans want to see Matt Kemp catching for Buster Posey in the All-Star Game, let it happen. I don't think fans are that stupid, and we would see the stars play their normal positions, but it's supposed to be a game for the fans, so MLB should give them total power. Of course, this option would make it so they would absolutely have to stop having the All-Star Game count for anything.

Long story short? Baseball should either take control from the fans or give entirely to them for the All-Star Game, and stop having it count for something in the post-season. After all, Spring Training records don't affect regular season wins. Why should the All-Star Game?