Here’s what I can tell you about American voters.
We’re the country that brought you Warren G. Harding and Taylor Hicks. We’re the country that decided that Cheesy Garlic Bread is a better potato chip flavor than Sriracha. I kid you not, Sriracha lost. What is wrong with people?
So, voting aptitude is probably not our strongest suit as a nation.
(Really, America, you chose BREAD as a potato chip flavor!)
On Friday I posted my belief that a baseball All-Star should be based on something more than just numbers and on-field statistics.
Because, you can lead every single offensive category … every single one … you can be on pace to hit 200 home runs, steal 100 bases and, when necessary, play all nine positions in a single game, while nursing a stress fracture in your leg … but if you failed baseball’s drug test, publicly talk smack about your teammates, or for some strange reason believe that bread is an acceptable potato chip flavor … there is no way … NO WAY … you will ever earn my All-Star vote.
Has there been a year when someone didn’t complain about the All-Star roster?
No. Every single year someone, somewhere complains.
I have no basis for that statement.
But, I stand by it anyway, because … well, hey, prove me wrong.
Fans began voting for the starting lineups of the All-Star game in 1947. It didn’t take long for energetic fans to get to stuffing. It came to a head in 1957 when Cincinnatians – with the help of their local newspapers, Kroger Grocery stores, and neighborhood taverns – accounted for half of all the votes cast that year.
The result – Reds won seven of the eight starting positions for the National League. Only the Cardinals’ Stan Musial squeaked through the “Red Curtain.” Commissioner Ford Frick ultimately pushed two Reds starters aside to make way for Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. (The American League won 6-5, despite a valiant 9th-inning rally that began with an RBI triple by Mays, who then scored on a wild pitch.)
And, Frick took away the fan vote.
Fans elbowed their way back into voting in 1970. And, back to stuffing.
** In 1975, the Milwaukee Brewers (owned at the time by current Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig) were said to have encouraged a single fan who was determined to vote Robin Yount and/or George Scott into the starting lineup. The fan was aided, he said, by the Brewers front office which provided him with some 30,000 paper ballots. The fan used a power drill to punch his ballots at a rate of 4,000 an hour. (All that drilling led to naught, although Scott went as a reserve and the American League won 6-3.)
** In 1999, in the early years of online voting, Boston Red Sox fan Chris Nandor cooked up a computer program that allowed him to vote nearly 40,000 times for his favorite Red Sox, including Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. His stuffing worked and Garciaparra started. (Derek Jeter went as a Reserve, but probably hasn’t lost much sleep over it.)
** In 2012, the San Francisco Giants took heat for encouraging their fans to vote and vote and vote. Angry non-Giant fans suggested the computer geniuses of Silicon Valley were all Giants fans and were shamelessly hijacking the online voting system. Others pointed out that Giants’ AT&T Park offers free Wi-Fi, making online voting at the game way too easy.
And, who was the unfit All-Star starter in 2012? Giants Third Baseman Pablo “Panda Bear” Sandoval. How’d it work out? Panda Bear was one of the stars of the game that night; his three-RBI triple helped lead the National League to an 8-0 victory.
No, I don’t like cheaters. But, I don’t see why teams shouldn’t encourage their fans to support their favorite players.
I’m confident that the All-Star game will include the best that baseball has to offer – based on statistical achievement, as well as intangible “nice guy” criteria that I think is the difference between a great player and an All-Star.
Because, really, I mean, what’s worse? Buster Posey starting at Catcher for the National League next month or the fact that only 57 percent of eligible voters voted in last year’s presidential election?
Can’t decide? Let me help you out. The presidential voting thing is worse.
But, the Cheesy Garlic Bread potato chip vote is pretty bad, too.
UPDATE!! The potato chip debate is not over. In August, I got the chips … and here’s my post on the taste test. Click here.
And, here’s more from me on All Star Game voting: From “Half Star to All Star”
Wondering what to do during your All-Star break? I’ve got you covered: Free Baseball: “I Hate The All Star Game” Edition