Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Fans Are Idiots

Here we go again.

The first returns are in for baseball's All-Star Game (oops, sorry, that would be the Monster All-Star Game), and they prove once again why the fans should not be the ones choosing the All-Star starting lineups.

Sure, it's a seductive argument: "it's the fans' game, and they ought to choose". Except it really doesn't work out that way. What happens is that rabid fans in a couple of cities (can you say Boston and New York, kids?) dominate the process.

Right now, the American League results have 7 of the 9 slots in the batting order filled by Red Sox or Yankees. Somehow, Vladimir Guerrero and Ichiro Suzuki managed to sneak in (though neither is really having a great year), but keep an eye out for Yankees Bobby Abreu and Melky Cabrera, who lurk within striking distance.

It's another example of how baseball says it cares about the fans, but really only cares if you live in a big market. I can just hear the conversations at baseball's Park Avenue offices: "What? There's still a team in Kansas City?"

50 years ago, the Lords of Baseball faced an All-Star scandal: the good people of Cincinnati voted their Reds into every slot in the starting lineup except first base (apparently, they mistook Stan Musial's Cardinal red for their own guy). Commissioner Ford Frick stepped in and pulled two of the Fraud-legs from the lineup, subbing in Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.

And then, baseball took the vote away from the fans for the next dozen years. But then, in 1970, they gave it back. For a while, the sport tried to avoid another 1957 Reds mess by limiting the number of printed ballots distributed to each big-league city.

But then the Internet came along, rife with opportunities for ballot-stuffing. And here we are.

What can fans do? You can do what I do: claim the moral high ground by refusing to vote. Or you can go a step beyond that and join the millions who don't watch the All-Star Game on TV anymore.

Maybe then, the Lords of Baseball will get it right and let the players and managers (who know the game best) choose the All-Star lineups. But based on baseball's track record, I wouldn't bet on it.

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