Major League Baseball has a huge problem and anybody who plays fantasy baseball has experienced a similar scenario as a manager. Call it what you want, jumping the gun, premature or a plain “too early” but baseball needs to wait on when they release their All-Star ballots.
Any smart fantasy manager knows you can never judge a player’s season on the first two weeks. We all remember Tuffy Rhodes, who hit three home runs on Opening Day for the Chicago Cubs. Anybody remember what happened to him after that? Ok, I’ll backtrack a bit, anybody even heard of Tuffy Rhodes? Well, he won the 2001 MVP…in Japan, because Ichiro wasn’t there to win it anymore. This works with completely opposite performances as well. Perennial All-Stars may rack up a Golden Sombrero on opening day and finish April with a .195 average but that doesn’t mean they aren’t the same skilled player they’ve always been. Sometimes we’ll see those guys hit .400 for May and they’re right back on their game. The point here is you can’t judge anybody, not one single player, on the first two weeks or even first month of the season.
The MLB doesn’t seem to understand this philosophy. Every year the All-Star ballot is being released earlier and earlier in the year. I’m afraid that soon you’ll be able to pick one up on Opening Day to vote for your favorite players. Unlike the casual baseball fan, us baseball geeks see the All-Star ballot as a way to reward those who deserve a spot in the midsummer classic. I take each year’s voting just as seriously as I do a presidential election. This coming from the guy who voted for Ken Griffey, Jr. as governor because the other two candidates were deemed unworthy. (I didn’t agree with the views of one and the other helped run the Sonics out of town.) The point in all of this is: The ballot is the fan’s way of being involved with choosing the best in the game.
Just because somebody is well-known doesn’t mean they’re the best. Does Derek Jeter deserve a starting spot every year? No, and even though he’s been injured most of the 2013 season, I would not be surprised to see that he’s voted in as such. I’m sure many of his votes came very early in the season, when breakout stars and blossoming prospects at the major league level hadn’t yet made a name for themselves. Did you know about Jean Segura on April 15? I was still debating adding him to my fantasy roster, trying to decipher whether his hot start was a fluke or if he was a Silver Slugger in the making.
On April 15, I would not have voted for him as an All-Star. Exactly one month later I attended a Diamondbacks game, picked up a ballot and did just that. I voted for the NL shortstop who I believed deserved the starting spot on the roster, Jean Segura. He’s the poster boy for every fan fed up with the early-April release of All-Star balloting. It’s almost as if the league does this so the casual fans will vote for names over stats. It’s just like a high school election, instead of students picking the most qualified, smartest candidate, it’s always the least qualified, most popular kid in school who ends up ruining everything. Nobody wants to see another Jason Varitek incident again.
As commissioner of baseball, I would postpone the release of All-Star balloting until May 15. At that point players have established themselves as either studs or duds and a player who begins the season in the minors or even players who are traded can be selected based on their current team. It’s time for the MLB to change it’s ways in the most simple aspect possible.
This isn’t the Pro Bowl, people actually enjoy watching the All-Star game, give the viewers the best players you can. We don’t need to see Josh Hamilton jogging around the outfield and striking out in his one plate appearance. We don’t need to see a struggling Albert Pujols pretend like he belongs this year. And we certainly don’t need to see an injured Derek Jeter wave from the dugout. I’d much rather see Adam Jones chasing down fly balls and legging out a hustle double or Paul Goldschmidt stab a line drive at first and jack a homer into the Citi Field apple.
Since everybody just wants to see home runs and web gems they should vote for the best players in the game TODAY, not the most recognizable players of yesteryear. I love you all, except anyone who votes for Jeter. Seriously, this is baseball not the injury report.