A couple of Orioles fans submitted 38,000 All-Star Game ballots

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The headline says 12,500, but that was just the last batch of ballots that 19-year-olds Christian Walston and Kelsey Thomas brought to Camden Yards. They submitted 38,000 in all, according to this City Paper article. Why?

Christian Walston, 19 and Kelsey Thomas also 19, are 13-game plan season-ticket holders from Crisfield, MD and Temperance, VA respectively, who were turning in their ballots as part of the Orioles’ Vote-Orange program, that rewards ballot-box stuffers with all sorts of team swag for ensuring that the Birds will be well-represented at the mid-summer classic taking place at Minnesota’s Target Field on july 15, 2014.

Walston and Thomas are getting a 12-person catered suite for an upcoming, game at Oriole Park.

Good for them! Sounds like a lot of work and a lot of fun and it’s a pretty spiffy way to show the love for their favorite team (all 38,000 ballots were straight-ticket Orioles ballots).

Of course, the only thing that bugs me about this is that while everything else about the All-Star Game is geared toward fun and fan-friendly events — as it should be, by the way — Major League Baseball still insists on making the All-Star Game decide which league gets home field advantage in the World Series. Having this one actually significant matter remain a part of things always makes me look at fun stuff like what these two kids have done with a twinge of angst.

Bud Selig got embarrassed on national television by an All-Star Game tie over a decade ago and so he made a rule to make that not happen anymore. Except the rule has done absolutely nothing to make the leagues and players treat the All-Star Game more seriously than they had been and now makes an increasingly unimportant exhibition/celebration determine a thing that actually matters a whole lot. I’m not saying these 38,000 votes makes a difference to all of this, but I do have to wonder why, other than Bud Selig’s pride, we are sticking with this dumb home field advantage rule.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.