Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is upon us. And with the voting coming to a close, the fans have spoken. They want the Kansas City Royals to start the game that determines home field advantage in the World Series!
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Yep, the Kansas City Royals, that motley crew of scrappy overachievers that lucked their way into the World Series last year will have four starters in next week’s Midsummer Classic. Really. The league office confirmed it’s not a computer glitch: Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon were voted in. If you’re not in Kansas City, you probably don’t even know these are actual major league players.
However, they’ll be starting because Royals fans have been stuffing the ballot box this year – or whatever the digital equivalent of this is: spamming the inbox, munching the cookies, pwning the noobs. I don’t know. I’m not a computer expert.
Cain has every right to be there. He’s having a great year. Gordon is solid, but this is an “All-Star” game, not a “Solid-Star” game. Unfortunately, he won’t be playing after hearing a popping sound in his groin – which, in some activities, is ideal, but not as much so in activities in which you are clothed. Anyway, if you think these voting results aren’t because of dubious activity by Royals fans, then please explain to me why Alex Rios was almost voted onto the team when he shouldn’t be in the top 50.
This is part of the problem of allowing fans to vote. This happened a couple years ago when the Baltimore Orioles fans went nuts and tried to vote in a bunch of mediocre players – not surprising behavior for a fanbase located so close to Washington, D.C.
Regardless of this silliness, I would never want the fan vote removed. People say, “It just becomes a popularity contest.” Yeah, that’s because it is a popularity contest. The whole point of this game is for the fans. Do you really think the league cares about rewarding players’ performances? Sorry, Jack. They want you to tune in. And they want new people to tune in and feed the multi-billion dollar industry.
So, now, with all the fan selections in as well as the players, managers, league, et al, let’s take a look at five players who got robbed and five players who shouldn’t have been invited.
This one is on the Kansas City fans who wanted to remind the world of that time their free-swinging catcher choked and fouled out to end the World Series last fall. Russell Martin and Stephen Vogt wound up getting selected anyway, but Perez has been about half as productive as Brian McCann, but the lethargic New York Yankees fans failed to do their job in the voting.
The All-Star game has been traditionally forgiving of underperforming superstars, and Jones fits that to a tee. He snuck in this year with the veteran tactic of having been good in the past and putting up a solid first month of production, which somehow Jedi mind-tricks people into thinking he’s been productive all season. Which he hasn’t. He’s the 11th best outfielder in the American League, and that’s if you count his plus defense.
Yes, any time you can get the 14th best reliever in a season onto the All-Star team, you have to lock him up. Oh, what’s that you say? He just happens to play on American League manager Ned Yost’s actual team? I guess this kind of dubious move should be expected from Yost who wants to reward his players from last year for making it to the World Series, but maybe he can just hand out participation ribbons instead.
This is by far the worst selection for both teams, though National League manager Bruce Bochy did a better job overall picking the most deserving players. Lemahieu is the NL’s ninth best second baseman. Flabbergasting. At first I thought this was one of those “we have to have someone from every team” terrible moves that happens every year, but the Colorado Rockies already have Nolan Arenado, so this is just a crazy pick. Maybe Bochy was just throwing darts at a wall of possible players and the dart caromed off the wall into the trash and landed on Lemahieu’s picture.
Let’s throw Jonathan Papelbon in here also. Two mediocre relief pitchers selected so that their respective teams would have an All-Star. I get it. Every team should have an All-Star. But the Philadelphia Phillies have Cole Hamels to select instead of Papelbon. The Milwaukee Brewers also have a better alternative to represent them, but you’ll have to read on to see who (BOOM! You just got teased!)
Yes, that Alex Rodriguez. He’s the eighth best hitter in the AL. Sure, there’s a possibility that he’s juicing something or injecting HGH or sucking bone marrow out of Ecuadorian Wombats, but he’s an icon with very impressive numbers. That is an All-Star. Sure, everybody hates him and the Internet would go insane if he was selected but, hello!, that’s how you get people to watch your meaningless exhibition game. Can you imagine how many think pieces would be written about him? And then think pieces about think pieces? MLB really whiffed on this one.
Um, hey guys, this is the best pitcher of this generation and he might get in on the final player vote. He won the Cy Young and the MVP Award last year because he is the best pitcher of this generation. “But Jed, his ERA and his wins aren’t that great this year.” I hate to drop an “actually” on you but … Actually, Kershaw leads the league in strikeouts and using the advanced statistic xFIP which tries to mathematically detail a pitcher’s actual performance, Kershaw is number one … by a lot. A couple of flukey home runs and some terrible game management by Don Mattingly have conspired to muddy some of his stats, but I can assure you Kershaw is still the best pitcher of this generation.
In the big picture, it doesn’t matter if Betts wasn’t selected this year, because he will soon become a fixture in All-Star games to come. He’s only 22 years old, and he’s already among the five best outfielders in the AL. He does everything you want from a player: He has nine home runs, 13 stolen bases and he plays great defense. Can you even imagine how many votes this guy would’ve gotten if he was on the Royals?!?!
He’s one of the most productive offensive weapons in baseball, and he plays for the most popular team in the world. I guess Yankees fans are taking the loss of Derek Jeter harder than we thought – curled up in the fetal position since wondering where it all went wrong. Yankees fans, it’s time to move on. He’s not coming back. You will survive. As long as you know how to love, you know you’re still alive.
Oh, man, you had to read all the way down to here from that teaser I did earlier — that you’ve probably completely forgotten about — and now I’m just embarrassing myself with false pride. Anyway, Lind is one of the five best hitters in the National League and that is very good. At any given time there are about 350 players in the NL. Top five out of 350. You can see why this guy should be an All-Star. I feel like this shouldn’t be that complicated. Is it me? … It is? That’s not very pleasant. … What do you mean “a taste of my own medicine”? I am nice. … Whatever, screw you.
Obviously there are still some adjustments needed in the selection process. That might be just as simple as not letting the managers pick their own players (Ned Yost, look at me when I’m talking to you) since a lot of the bad picks this year come from that part of the process.
But even with the best players on the field, there’s no guarantee they’ll perform at their best. Baseball is just too random. In the end, all this ranting and raving is just noise that we’ll all forget as soon as the game starts. And then we can find other stuff to complain about. I know I will.