The All-Star vote is great fun. Except for that pesky home field advantage in the World Series thing


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.

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers - Game Two
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first couple of rows of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

After a single in five at-bats in the first game Tuesday, Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”