Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stop Letting Fans vote for All Stars [Mondays with Gus]

When I think about how much rides on the decision of who makes the all-star teams in MLB, I start to cringe that fans would be allowed to have any involvement whatsoever. The size and length of contracts and home field advantage for the world series are the two big ones I'm talking about here. I understand that MLB (and any corporation or non-profit organization) want their fans/customers to feel personally involved in the success of the franchise, because that drives sales. And I know that fans probably have a lot of fun watching the numbers and seeing who's on top at what position. That's all good and well, but it's really too large of a decision for regular fans.

For starters, most fans only know as much about baseball as they watch on television or read on websites with official ties to MLB itself (MLB.com, individual team sites, ESPN). This means that whatever stories ESPN and MLB think will generate revenue determines what the fans hear about. There is a limited amount of information the average fan knows (or can comprehend, depending on how much they know about the game itself). The average fan that votes can't go to games of every team and make legitimate determinations on who is best at his position. They just vote for whoever they see as their favorite (read: most talked about on TV), which brings me to Derek Jeter.

You know Jeter's going to make the All-Star team. You also know that he doesn't deserve this distinction in the slightest. He's on pace to bat .258 with 6 HR's and 49 RBI's. That's awful. One glance at his numbers (without realizing he's THE Derek Jeter) [editor's note: this fact cannot be put into words or measured with new fangled 'statistics] would make you think he's in the minor leagues. But, he's going to get the fan voting, which is likely going to hurt the American League's chances of getting home field advantage for the world series. What if Jeter loses the game for the AL? Does that mean that the Indians/Red Sox/Rays have to pay for it? I'll admit that the stupidity of the all-star game determining the world series is worth discussing. But, the potential disaster it could cause is magnified by the fan vote.

Furthermore, contracts and their values are determined partially by distinctions such as whether or not a player is of all-star caliber. There are a lot of great players that are not making to all-star games, and therefore missing out on bigger contracts because of it. I'm not gonna sit here and say we should all cry about someone who will “only” sign a $10 million deal instead of the $12 million that he might have got, but it's worth talking about. The fan vote is changing which teams can afford certain players.
For all the good things that the fan vote creates, and there are many, it also puts too much in the hands of the fans. They are in no condition to be determining who gets home field advantage in the world series. For my money, I would rather see the fans just be the fans, while players and managers can be players and managers and analyze the game internally to determine who the best players are. While I am all for giving power to the fans (See my previous post on why fans shouldn't pay for stadiums), I cannot justify allowing them to tarnish the game with their lack of expertise.

-Gus Rafeedie

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