Once upon a time the major league All-Star game meant something. That was before interleague play and satellite dishes, mlb.com and ESPN made it possible for everyone across the country, indeed the world, to see every team and every player virtually on demand. Now, the “mid-summer classic” is just slightly more interesting to fans than the Pro-Bowl game is in football and, then, only because it is played in the middle of the season. Move it to November and Hawaii and I guarantee only the parents, spouses and significant others of the participants would tune in.
Like so many other facets of baseball today, the All-Star game has been badly mismanaged by Commissioner Bud Sellig. First, he has turned the event into the same three-day carnival as in every other major sport with made-for-TV skill contests such as the home run hitting contest created solely to expand the amount of exposure on prime time television. Next, he agreed to allow ESPN have Boomer Berman and Joe Morgan provide commentary for the contest, insuring that bad puns and platitudes flew out of the park at least as often as the baseballs. Then there was the infamous tie he decreed a few years ago, which would have gone down as Bud’s greatest folly had he not surpassed himself by awarding home field advantage in the World Series to the winning league in the All-Star game. These guys need motivation, Bud opined. Foolish me; all along I thought the incentive clauses in their contracts were sufficient.
Many observers have also noted how flawed the voting system is, especially when smaller market teams cannot possible compete against larger ones when it comes to in-stadium balloting. Can the 4,325 people who show up in Miami have a snowball’s chance in South Florida of electing local hero Miguel Cabrera when the Cubs sell out Wrigley every day and have Derek Lee? While I find the argument correlating attendance and voting somewhat persuasive, I have to acknowledge there are alternatives, namely online voting.
Of course, when one goes on line these days he or she is limited to a mere 25 votes and must navigate the word verification system MLB put in place order to prevent spammers and programmers from, heaven forbid, exploiting the system.
A limit of 25 votes?? Is that per visit to the web or is that overall? What if I disable cookies? Can I vote forever? Could I write in Lou Collier?
[P.S. If Chase Utley is elected the starting second baseman, I take it all back.]