Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Major League Baseball plans to introduce an a new step to the All-Star voting procedure this season with something called “Election Day,” aimed at picking the starters at each position.
The regular All-Star voting will proceed as normal. Then, once that’s done, the the top three vote-getters at each position will be placed on a new ballot from which fans would then vote again during a single day to decide who starts.
Which sort of defeats the putative purpose of the weeks of fan voting to begin with, which has always been about selecting starters. Of course this greatly serves the actual purpose of All-Star voting, which is to drive internet traffic to the extraordinarily lucratively sponsored MLB.com All-Star voting site, brought to you by eSurance or whoever the heck it is now.
If you doubt that that’s the actual purpose of All-Star voting, ask yourself what interest is best served by allowing fans to vote a gabillion times and to easily circumvent even those restrictions, which they certainly can and do: (a) choosing the best, most deserving All-Star team possible; or (b) encouraging maximum site traffic and sponsor engagement. I submit to you that it’s the latter.
Now ask yourself what an additional round of voting does. Yeah, again, it drives traffic to the website and sponsor. And does so at a time — post regular voting — when, in the past, all the traffic has usually died. Now they’ll squeeze one massive traffic day out of it, all while, possibly, getting a top vote getter knocked out of an All-Star start for what is, in essence, a gimmick. Which, because it’s the All-Star Game and the All-Star Game doesn’t matter means I won’t lose much sleep over this, but just know what’s going on when MLB’s P.R. machine tries to sell it as some exciting new way to get a better All-Star team or whatever.
Another new wrinkle being discussed, according to Passan: increasing prize money to the Home Run Derby to entice top talent to take part. Last year’s winner, Bryce Harper, just signed a $330 million contract, so if he’s reluctant and you still want to get him on board, you had better come with some pretty big money, guys.
Luckily, there will be more money on hand thanks to the Election Day gimmick.