All-Star Voting

Well, I thought it was clever.

If you haven’t filed your on-line ballots for the All-Star Game, you have until Thursday. I have filed 3 so far while at Cincinnati Reds games, so I’ll get to vote a collective 28 times. For on-line ballots, I always wait until a week before the deadline to start voting. If you do it before, you’re either going to vote in a guy with 2 hot months (which is worse than voting in a guy for having a hot half) or you’re voting based on reputation (more acceptable, but this still doesn’t help get you the best 32 players). By waiting until now, you get a better view of who actually deserves to be in the All-Star Game based on their first-half performance. Some guys have cooled off while others have heated up. So go vote, if you haven’t, but don’t Vote for Manny. Please. Anyway, on to a quick history of All-Star voting (more All-Star stuff is on the way for the days leading up to the game) before I tell you who should be voted into this year’s game tonight and tomorrow night.

Arch Ward began the All-Star Game in 1933 as part of the World’s Fair that was to be held in Chicago. The game’s players were selected from the game’s stars by Ward and some advisors. Due to the game’s success, it became an annual event, and in 1935, the manager of the All-Star Game began choosing all the players that would be in the game. However, this caused some problems. In 1939, Joe McCarthy used 6 of his New York Yankees in the starting lineup. Not that all of them didn’t deserve to be there, but the idea of favoritism forced the commissioner’s hand.

In 1947, Happy Chandler changed the selection process slightly. The fans could now vote for the eight starters other than the pitcher. Other than the starters, the managers chose the rest of the team. This could still lead to favoritism, but at least the fans could choose the starters, presumably to make things more fair. Well, that didn’t exactly work out. Ten years later, Cincinnati Reds fans stuffed the ballot box and elected 7 Reds to be starters with only Stan Musial able to withstand such a travesty of justice. Commissioner Ford Frick was ticked, and he immediately took away the voting from the fans, giving it back to managers.

As is want to happen in history, you make one decision to correct something, and then, an unintended consequence forces another reaction. Without input and then two All-Star Games from 1959 to 1962, the enthusiasm surrounding the game waned. It was no longer new and exciting, and it soon became trite and bothersome. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, in 1970, gave fans the right to vote again in order to create more enthusiasm and to drive marketing for the game and baseball in general. The reserves and pitchers were still selected by mangers, but the game had been saved. Another interesting fact that occurred around the same time, the distinction between outfielders was dropped. No longer did you pick a center fielder, left fielder, and right fielder. Fans complained that they had to choose Hank Aaron or Roberto Clemente, and that wasn’t right if they were the best players in the game. So, now you vote for 3 outfielders.

Everything moved along fine over the next 30 years or so, but the original problem of All-Star selection was still partly evident. The starters were now free of managerial favoritism, but reserves weren’t. Managers were often accused of picking their own players instead of other “worthier” players. In 2003, the process was tweaked again. Players and other coaches are now part of the selection process. Their votes don’t necessarily count as official (obviously, the every team must have a player requirement keeps this from really working), but the managers usually stick to the votes (though, we are never really told what the results are).

A year earlier, the Final Vote began in order to increase fan enthusiasm. At the time, there were only 30 players, but that would be the infamous game. Rosters expanded to 32 the next season. Five players from each league are selected, and the fans vote on the player from each league that they think should play. The NL has seen no winners on repeated teams, but the Boston Red Sox (3) and Chicago White Sox (2) have won 5 of the 7.

Other fun facts:
– The first game had roster sizes of 17 and 18. The 1939 Game had 25 and 26 players. Now, 32 players are chosen.
– The first DH to appear in an All-Star Game was 1989.
– For injuries or other reasons, players can decline their invitations, and they will be replaced by the Commissioner.
– Managers are the managers from the previous season’s World Series. 1964 was complete chaos, however, as Yogi Berra and Johnny Keane left their teams and went to the other league. In 1995, the managers of the teams with the best records by the time of the strike were the manager of the All-Star Game.

I like the All-Star Game, and I watch it every year. But there are some things I would like to see changed.

First, why can we vote for the position players but not the pitchers? It has never made any sense to me. Yes, fans might choose a pitcher who pitched on the Sunday before and the team may not want him to pitch, but they choose injured players all the time. Put in a sub if that’s the case. And yes, I would be okay with a reliever starting the game.

Second, no selections of DH’s as starters. Full-time DH’s should be allowed in the game, and they can be able to start as the DH. But in AL parks, choose the reserves and let the fans choose from them who should start as the DH in the same manner as the Final Vote. That way, it’s a little more even between leagues, and the fans aren’t cheated out of an NL starter.

Third, no more “One Team, One Person” nonsense. If your team doesn’t have a great player, complain to the GM. Otherwise, Mark Redman gets in the game, and that’s just ridiculous. Throw the non-represented teams a bone and bring a coach on board.

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