Yu Darvish and David Freese win The Final Vote, and now baseball needs to fix the All-Star Game

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The suspense was killing you, I’m sure:

Good for them. Even better for Bryce Harper when, inevitably, a member of the NL squad goes down with an “injury,” requiring MLB’s most marketable young talent in decades to have to go to Kansas City for next week’s game. Purely by coincidence, I’m sure.

And once again, let me note the wonderful, over-the-top disconnect between Major League’s official position regarding the All-Star Game — it determines home field advantage for the World Series and thus, by definition counts for something truly important — and its practical approach to it: the All-Star Game is a marketing, public relations and philanthropic opportunity, and the Final Vote’s greatest utility comes from driving traffic to MLB.com and followers to its Twitter account:

To be sure, there is nothing wrong with baseball using the All-Star Game this way. Indeed, in a day and age in which fans can see any player whenever they want and the distinctions between the National League and American League are approaching non-existent, that may very well be the highest and best purpose for the Game as opposed to some actual semi-serious competition like it was decades ago.

But given this, it is high time baseball take away the one thing that doesn’t fit with all that is today’s All-Star Game: actual baseball consequences.  Take the World Series home field advantage out of the equation. Let the 98% of how Major League Baseball approaches the All-Star Game — fan-friendly fun, promotional event and money maker — rule, and stop making something that matters like home field advantage in the World Series be decided by things that do not matter:

That’s fun and all, but seriously guys, it should have no bearing on the World Series.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.