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.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉