Baltimore Orioles: All-star game musings
Bethany Beach, DE – (…if you were wondering from this morning, Thrasher’s fries are still amazing!) For the most part, accolades in sports are based on wins and statistics as opposed to votes or opinion. (Please note that when I say accolades I’m using that term very loosely; I’m referring to awards, as well as things such as playoff qualification.) However there are a few exceptions, and generally those exceptions generate a lot of chatter and protest among fans. The NCAA Tournament selections immediately come to mind. The same can be said of the MLB all-star game selections. Ultimately the fans vote on the starters, and the respective AL and NL managers select the bench. (The fans also get to vote on a few players for the final roster spot once the teams are announced.)
In the past, the Orioles have been one of the many teams that have had a “token representative” due to the fact that every team has to be representative. This year that’s most certainly not the case, as the Orioles will be deservedly represented by Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, and Jim Johnson. Jason Hammel is a candidate for the final vote, which is open from now until Thursday night. No excuses folks…click here to vote for Hammel, or I’ll personally put aside my fun in the sun for today and come find you! However I myself just illustrated one of the beefs many people have with the entire system. My thoughts:
- Fan Vote – Most fans themselves agree that the fans shouldn’t vote. And when I say “fans,” I mean everyone…including writers, players, coaches, etc. You can vote up to 25 times (per email address); I won’t lie, I exhausted my 25 votes, as I’m sure did many of my counterparts. This in effect turns it into more of a popularity contest than a true vote for the all-star team. Without a doubt the best teams in each division are going to be represented given that they presumably have the better players. It’s all a relative, and quite frankly a very subjective argument. Someone’s going to end up on the outside looking in. The flip argument is that if the game’s for the fans, shouldn’t they get the big say in what goes on? And for the record, that’s a strong argument. However keep in mind that Matt Wieters was selected last year by AL manager Ron Washington as the Orioles’ lone representative. He was also statistically the best catcher in the American League; so if we were really being objective, shouldn’t he have been the starting catcher?
- Representation for all – That brings me to another point, one in this case with which I agree. I like the fact that every team is represented in some manner. I’ve always felt that every fan in America should have the right to sit down to watch the all-star game and to have a member of his home team on the roster. Furthermore, I think that the requirement should be that everyone on the roster should get to play in some manner. Again, that die-hard Cubs fan out there should be able to see Bryan LaHair in the game at some point, and the die-hard Rockies fan should get to see Carlos Gonzalez. In the past this rule has benefited the Orioles as well, with Ty Wiggington and George Sherrill being two beneficiaries. I would go so far as to say that managers could even get fancy with that and insert guys as pinch-runners in various situations. So long as that guy’s name appears on the scorecard in some manner is all that’s important.
- Stakes – There’s been lots of discussion over the all-star game defining which league gets home field advantage in the world series. First off, we’re really talking about one game (game seven). Furthermore, I think most people would agree that baseball isn’t like football in the sense that home field advantage can swing one game in such a grandiose manner. However I like having one small point riding on the all-star game. It gives just a bit of added incentive to the game as opposed to it truly being just an exhibition. Keep in mind also that this rule came to be as a result of the all-star game ending in a tie some years ago.
My main point of contention is that the all-star game fates of various guys lie in the hands of fans. Again, Wieters having to be selected by the manager last year sticks out at me. In fairness most people argue that the big market teams are always going to get the vote, and David Ortiz is the lone Boston Red Sox representative in this year’s game (with the numbers to back it up). However I just think that the game and the players would be better served by having a more objective group vote on the all-star game in general. Speaking of Oriole all-stars, would Ron Washington not be well served by having Buck Showalter on his staff for the game?
Follow me on Twitter @DomenicVadala