By Andy Harris, WSOE Sports
1.) Remove the fan vote from the selection process.
Every year, and I mean EVERY YEAR, they (we) fill a significant portion of both rosters with players who aren’t the best at their position. Again, it’s just a popularity contest. Most fans don’t care to see the best players in their league take on the other, they want to see their team take on the other league. The general thought process is something like this: “Now, who’s the best 2nd baseman in the NL…who plays for my favorite team? Kelly Johnson! Annnnnnd, submit.” It happened last year with Kosuke Fukodome (yes, he’s still playing), this year with Josh Hamilton, (Oh, sorry, I thought this was the Home Run derby ballot!) and happens every year with Derek Jeter (sorry, Jason Bartlett!) As a Phillies fan, I’ll openly admit that Shane Victorino didn’t deserve to make the roster. He’s had a great year, but Pablo Kung-Fu Pandoval (worst nickname ever?) and Matt Kemp are both better. My problem isn’t so much the injustice of it. But if we’re going to proudly proclaim “This one counts!” then let’s construct a roster as if it did. If I’m an AL fan, I want Youkilis starting at first, not Teixeira. Torii Hunter would be starting in center. I want Zobrist starting over Hill, and anyone other than Michael Young to replace the injured Evan Longoria. And seriously, Adam Lind would be on the roster. Look at his numbers and tell me that if he didn’t play in a different country he still wouldn’t be in the all-star game. In the NL, McCann would be given the start at backstop instead of the 2nd-best Molina brother. Pablo Sandoval would replace the overrated Ryan Howard on the bench (remember, I’m a Phillies fan), and Matt Kemp would start in center.
Honestly, I could go on, but I’m about to have an ulcer. The short version is simply that most fans don’t know jack about baseball and shouldn’t be voting for the rosters in the All-Star game. Let some educated and unbiased sabermatricians decide who’s the most worthy, and give the fans ONE roster spot on which to vote, just to quell their frivolous demands. Wait, did I just contradict my first change?
2.) Stop giving the manager the keys to the roster.
Stop letting them play GM. Granted, the last 2 NL managers have been incompetent, but if anything that illustrates my point. Unless you’re Houston, Washington, L.A., Pittsburgh, or Kansas City, why would you give control of your team to a man who’s clearly unqualified, if not also a nitwit? That’s nearly as bad as giving control to a woman who is qualified! The manager gets to select one player to add to their roster from any team in their league. Last year, Clint Hurdle selected Aaron Cook instead of Johan Santana and Cole Hamels. Why? Because Cook had won more games for his team, or, in other words, his team scored more runs when he pitched than Cole’s or Johan’s. (There’s a reason Hurdle lost his job). This year, Charlie Manuel selected Jason Marquis over teammate Ubaldo Jiminez. If nothing else, take Ubaldo because of his vastly superior name, if not his vastly superior stats. Was Big Chuck afraid of getting Swine Flu? He later selected Jayson Werth to replace the injured Carlos Beltran over the slightly more deserving Pandoval and Kemp (although it was nice to see the humorously underrated Werth get some recognition). This kind of thing happens every year. A manager selects some inferior player, often from his team, and justifies it with words like “winner” or “gamer” or “grit” or “UZR.” Wait, sorry, that last one would be Billy Beane, not any 16th Century managers. Again, let’s start putting the best possible team on the field.
3.) Stop giving every player an at-bat.
Yet again, if we’re going to boldly proclaim, “This one counts (for the 4 players in this game whose teams will advance to the World Series),” then let’s start managing like it. You’re really going to pull Chase Utley in the 5th so Orlando Hudson can bat? You’re going to give Yadier Molina 2 at-bats and Brian McCann only 1? You’re going to pull Albert Pujols from the game at all? If this were a regular season game, Charlie Manuel wouldn’t have made any of those moves. So why did he make them in a game that supposedly counts? No one’s going to take the All-Star game that seriously until we give the best players the most at-bats.
I stand by my points though. We’re constructing the rosters and managing the game as if it doesn’t count for anything, but we’re giving it the hype and coverage as if it does. Oh, and some little thing called “World Series Home Field Advantage” (whatever that is) lies in the balance. Hence, I can’t understand why Ryan Zimmerman received more at-bats than Prince Fielder.