BRONX, NEW YORK: In the midst of the season, All-Star voting is in full swing. Although the season has yet to reach its midway point, fans pour in their votes for their favorite players. The problem with All-Star voting is precisely that.
With fans voting for players on their favorite teams, how can we honestly justify the integrity of All-Star balloting? One must ask the question: Do these players really deserve this proclaimed honor?
It happens not only in baseball, but in all mainstream sports, when fans vote for the most popular players instead of the most worthy. Players are selected after a terrible first half—or even worse, despite being injured. Is this the way we envision our All-Star teams being constructed?
When Barry Bonds, Derek Jeter, and David Ortiz are being elected merely based on the merits of past achievements, can we honestly condone the way in which these supposed "All-Stars" are being selected? Can we even call them All-Stars if they haven't been true All-Stars during the year they are elected?
I, for one, cannot blame the fans for the selections because they are merely doing their duty to vote. I can, however, blame Major League Baseball for allowing the casual fan to determine who will play in the game that decides which League hosts the World Series.
I understand that Major League Baseball desires for fans to be involved in the selection of the All-Star team. But there is no doubt in my mind that fans will remain loyal, despite not having a role in the selection.
Because of that, I think it is time for a new system to be implemented. What the system should be composed of may be debatable—but no matter what, the old system must be done away with.
Some may argue that despite favorite players being selected to start the game, more worthy players are still being selected to fill out the bench. Yet we must remember that other players who deserve to be on the bench are being left out of the game completely. These players are what we have dubbed as All-Star snubs. With the elimination of snubs, the yearly ESPN All-Star snub show will be done away with.
So I am calling for a reconstruction of the system in which Major League Baseball officials will decide the starters based on the statistics of every player in the league. It seems simple enough to select players based on their numbers for the year. Each team may still have a representative, although that is debatable as well.
Yet what is more important is honoring the correct players and starters and rewarding them for their accomplishments during the current year, rather than the fact that we saw them in a Nike or Ford commercial the hour before we voted.
Can we put such an important aspect of the game in the hands of people who only know players on the team who they cheer for? Can we trust them to vote for the most deserving players? Does the casual fan even know who Josh Hamilton is, let alone that he is leading the league in RBIs? Or will they instead be voting for the more familiar names of Ichiro, Manny, and Vladmir?
Will fans vote for Chipper Jones and his .400 batting average to start at third—or wil they vote for his more popular counterpart in New York, David Wright? Will fans honor Pittsburgh Pirate Nate McClouth's phenomenal all-around year, or will they cast it aside for a more familiar name like Carlos Beltran?
From John Lynch in the NFL, to Tracy McGrady in the NBA, to the plethora of Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets that have been voted to the team time after time, All-Star voting has exhibited a hint of favoritism rather than reward based on merit.
With All-Star nominations bearing value in Hall of Fame considerations, one might question if the fans are helping these players into Cooperstown. So despite trepidation, I ask: Does being an All-Star even mean anything anymore?