There is a lot of mockery going on with respect to the A.L. All-Star vote right now. Not really outrage, as I haven’t seen anyone truly mad, but mockery. My contribution to the mockery was to say that maybe this isn’t all about Royals fans stuffing the ballot box as much as it’s fans of other teams punishing the Royals by making so many of them have to come to Ohio during what would be their only week off otherwise. But there is a lot of mockery all the same.
Our Joe Posnanski tends to look at things from a far less cynical perspective than I do, and his take today is that maybe this is really just about Royals fans and their long pent-up demand for winning baseball finally exploding in the form of an exuberant get-out-the-vote campaign. I figure that’s just as plausible if not more so than some game-theory anti-vote or some grand computer hack. I mean, let’s face it: MLB has set up a voting system in which the goal is more about getting page views on its site than it is about choosing a good All-Star team, so exuberance is going to be more readily rewarded than chicanery. Ballot stuffing is a feature, not a bug.
But, as I’ve argued many times over the past several years, this sort of silliness is regrettable if, for no other reason, than the fact that the All-Star Game has real world consequences in the form of establishing home field advantage in the World Series.
I want the All-Star Game to be dumb fun. Major League Baseball, based on just about everything it does with respect to the thing, wants the All-Star Game to be dumb fun. But the home field advantage thing keeps me from wanting to surrender to the silliness entirely. You want all Royals? Cool. You want to change it from NL vs. AL to short guys vs. tall guys or fat guys vs. guys named “Hunter,” or mustache guys vs. clean-shaven guys, be my guest! We could make it a different theme every year.
But that one stupid fact — home field advantage determination — wrecks the fun. And it’s so unnecessary too. It was established only to save Bud Selig’s ego following the fiasco of an All-Star Game tie in 2002. An ego that, as recently as two years ago, still needed to be stroked.
Make the All-Star Game ridiculous, MLB. Unleash the marketing people and the innovators and allow the fans to vote 100 times for all I care. I’m guessing most people won’t care and many people will probably enjoy it even more. But to make the game ridiculous while still retaining that home field thing is senseless. And at this point it’d be easier to get rid of the home field thing than it would be to restore some basis of credibility to the All-Star voting.