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Ozzie Smith was the one usually doing acrobatics, and they made him popular
You may be able to tell already what my major sport growing up was. I excelled at every position but catcher until I became near-sighted at a preteen age and could no longer hit.
I also learned a lot about baseball through my father, who was a coach. Naturally, it was my top sport in my formative years, and it permeates my view of other games. Thus, I follow statistics in other sports now as a baseball fan does that game.
My view was also shaped by my rural, working-class upbringing. I like players with a work ethic, and am as likely to know who leads the league in faceoffs as I am goals.
I saw guys like Ozzie Smith continue to make the MLB All-Star Game because fans around the league knew him as the guy who opened every game with an impressive gymnastics routine. He was a great player, but often not the best at his position.
Fans were voting for him because of the ostentatious display of athleticism, not because of what he did in games. Every athletic play was driven home all the more because they knew how athletic he was.
Most fans love scoring. If the average fan knew how much more important the little things are than goals, they would vote for defensive players who can still score, players like Alex Goligoski, Pavel Datsyuk and Ryan Kesler, instead of defensive liabilities who score fancy goals.
I hate the popularity contest because I am a fan of the sport, not the league. Let me see the best possible game—sans the hits that could change the fortunes of teams, if you must.