Say NO to Morneau (and other All Star Game rants)

The reason for me bringing this up, yet again, is the justifiable hue-and-cry about Justin Morneau and Miguel Cabrera being some ~150k votes behind Mark Teixeira for the starting 1B spot in the American League.  Here’s my advice: get over it.  Clearly, Morneau and Cabrera (and Youkilis, who sits at #5, behind Carlos Pena!deserve to start ahead of Teixeira, but this is the process for selection of the starting lineup.  There’s no need for nice tables and stats; Morneau and Cabrera are having significantly better years than Teix. Morneau and Cabrera will, in fact, be selected by the manager anyway, so the gripes are going to be wasted breaths.  What the Teix selection does do, however, is take a spot for a player who might otherwise have made it.  Now, as mentioned, the roster size has been boosted +2 to 34 this year, so lots of guys will make it, mandatory representation and all.

I’m not going to launch some “Say No To Morneau” site to further highlight these inherent conflicts surrounding the ASG, but I sure would like my fellow fans to address their anger (about a game you readily admit you don’t much care about) properly. Write, call, scream to Mr. Selig and his team at MLB HQ.  To their credit, they will listen as evidenced by the ever-changing rules.  They might not do anything today but I am quite certain they hear ya (they do drop by here every now and then). 

The selection process allows fans to vote up to 25 times per email. I have a few emails, so I could lob over 100 votes for every Yankee I can spot, as well as every least-deserving NL player, just to tilt the scales towards my guys and my team.  Being in NY, we have the benefit of more people. Tough, that’s the system.  If all of Japan wants to go bonkers and vote Ichiro and Matsui to the starting lineup, regardless of their worthiness, tough again.

The system has flaws and this process exploits those flaws for all their glory.  Heck, Curtis Granderson ranks #5 in AL outfielder voting! FIFTH! Ahead of non-Yankees like Wells and Choo and ahead of even more deserving Yanks Swisher and Gardner.  How’s that make ANY sense?  It doesn’t, but it’s a popularity contest so get over it.  Julio Borbon ranks #11 overall in AL OF.  Say what?  Looks like Texas has been hitting the ballots early.  Just ask Taylor Teagarden (check the catchers)!

So what can we do, now in 2010? Nothing, other than target your venom not towards the players who are leading the vote or the fans who are doing the voting, but towards MLB’s legislative bodies.

Either make the game an exhibition, as it was for decades, or make it count.  One or the other.  If it’s an exhibition, the current selection process is just fine.  If it counts, dilute the fans’ vote with players/manager/front office voting to get this year’s best team on the field.  You can’t have it both ways, MLB (and fans).


Here’s the AL voting results as of 5/24/10:

2010 MLB All-Star Balloting : American League
-1st Base
1. Mark Teixeira Yankees 396,034
2. Justin Morneau Twins 258,225
3. Miguel Cabrera Tigers 242,039
4. Carlos Pena Rays 159,452
5. Kevin Youkilis Red Sox 150,702
-2nd Base
1. Robison Cano Yankees 491,188
2. Dustin Pedroia Red Sox 279,452
3. Ian Kinsler Rangers 229,601
4. Ben Zobrist Rays 137,870
5. Orlando Hudson Twins 128,649
-3rd Base
1. Evan Longoria Rays 541,253
2. Alex Rodriguez Yankees 411,655
3. Michael Young Rangers 213,528
4. Adrian Beltre Red Sox 93,304
5. Brandon Inge Tigers 81,621
1. Derek Jeter Yankees 639,227
2. Elvis Andrus Rangers 239,091
3. Jason Bartlett Rays 154,014
4. J.J. Hardy Twins 134,840
5. Alex Gonzalez Blue Jays 109,793
1. Joe Mauer Twins 644,533
2. Jorge Posada Yankees 287,486
3. Victor Martinez Red Sox 119,997
4. Taylor Teagarden Rangers 108,191
5. Dioner Navarro Rays 77,180
-Designated Hitter
1. Vladimir Guerrero Rangers 374,333
2. Hideki Matsui Angels 298,487
3. Ken Griffey Jr. Mariners 213,658
4. Pat Burrell Rays 130,265
5. David Ortiz Red Sox 108,755
1. Ichiro Suzuki Mariners 366,903
2. Carl Crawford Rays 319,953
3. Nelson Cruz Rangers 307,928
4. Josh Hamilton Rangers 265,896
5. Curtis Granderson Yankees 264,572
6. Torii Hunter Angels 230,036
7. Nick Swisher Yankees 229,944
8. Brett Gardner Yankees 224,167
9. B.J. Upton Rays 218,686
10. Bobby Abreu Angels 194,998
11. Vernon Wells Blue Jays 188,728
12. Julio Borbon Rangers 139,029
13. Magglio Ordonez Tigers 133,097
14. Shin-Soo Choo Indians 127,042
15. Johnny Damon Tigers 125,450
Results updated: Monday, May 24, 2010

About @Jason_IIATMS

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16 thoughts on “Say NO to Morneau (and other All Star Game rants)

  1. It's just an extension of my mantra: "You can't complain unless you have an idea for a solution".

  2. In addition, these things tend to work themselves out by the game. Earlier voters are generally people who vote based on what players they know and who their favorite players are. That's fine–the term "All-Star" can mean different things and "guys I know and like" fit that description. However, other voters who vote based on first-half performance begin voting later after seeing who has done what. When that happens, the rosters usually shake out more or less how you'd expect with a weird Soriano sighting here and there.


    Again, everyone has a different way of looking at the game. But most people see it as a reward for a great first half (which I now find to be a bit odd), and after they've voted,  they tend to win out as you might imagine they would. Democracy's fun, isn't it?

  3. No comments about watering it down b/c of the expanded rosters? Or the obvious previously unwritten rule that SPs who start Sunday ride the bench? At least now their spots will be refilled.  More than 37 people per league will be on each team.  It's nuts! This solves the one per team minimum rule for me, b/c plenty of people ain't getting into the game anyway, so whomever Cleveland or KC send to the game wont be needed anyway.

    If the game mattered so much, even to stud teams like the Yanks, Rays, Sox, Phils, Cards, etc., then shouldn't their mgrs consider lining them up so they COULD play in the ASG?  Isn't the chance of  home field advantage in the WS worth moving your guy up or holding him back to start after the break?

    On a personal note, psyched that I will be going for the 2nd time in the last 3 years to the ASG and 3rd time overall (Yankee Stadium in '08 and Turner Field in '00).  And this one's just an hour from the house!

  4. And since I know you loved your 15 minutes last year with the Vote for Manny campaign.  How about a Vote for Floyd Landis Write-In Campaign!

  5. At least they got catcher right; tho I’m having a hard time, even as a Yankee fan, even pretending Jorge should be second.   As for Tex – you nailed that;  but DH is equally funny.  Count Vlad – who probably does have vampire blood – at the top, with Hideki behind him?  OK – they are two names I’ve heard of, but that’s about all you say.  Altho, Big Papi at #5? – where’s Nick(ed) Johnson?
    I like your idea – if the game is going to count, let the players and mgrs have more say, and get rid of the mandatory representation rule.  Or – how about this – have the mandatory players not count toward the 34 player roster limit.  Pick the 34 best and/or most popular players, and then if any team still doesn’t have a representative, add one.  That shouldn’t hurt anything – if the player doesn’t make the initial cut, his addition to the team shouldn’t skew the competitive balance.

  6. How do we expect the voting to change once the yankees actually start playing home games? I know you can rack up a lot more votes via the internet, but the ease of doing this at the ballpark can and should push the Yankee players up even more

  7. So the fundamental flaw in the system is that if people want to be dicks they can try to skew the results, and in order to protest this, you are going to be a dick and try to skew the results?

  8. Im English and havent been following baseball for that long so I understand my opinion wont count for much but I was amazed when I discovered that the winner of the ASG actually determines home advantage in the World Series. That would NEVER happen here in the UK. On top of this, both leagues have to have at least one player from each team? Is this real? Is the sport of baseball really this hap-hazzard?

    ASG’s leave me cold to begin with (main reason I watch sport is to witness competition, something that is seldomly provided in these events) and as the OP said, the likes of Morneau and Cabrera will be picked anyway so the outrage is often mis-directed. But please understand that from my English perspective, the whole sport appears to be filled with infrastructual inequalities (and no, that doesnt include payrolls.)

    Apart from the the aspects I covered above, Im still regulary surprised at how comfortable all fanbases appear to be with the huge disparities in schedule. I dont wish to sound “snooty” or anything but the idea of two teams playing against each other more (Yankees and Mets for example) based on nothing but geography (under the premise of “rivalry”) is extremely perplexing to us on this side of the pond.

    I know that a lot of this driven by history and tradition and to some extent, like the simple size of the US, its understandable and wise to consider. But to this extent? Can culture explain/reconcile the difference entirely? Im not so sure.

    Apologies for my rambling and Im not entirely sure where Im going with this and what relevance it has to the OP but I felt better for getting it off my chest! :)

  9. JP – If there is no unbalanced schedule, then there is no point in having leagues or divisions. Every one just plays everyone else, and take the 8 teams with the best record. That may sound fair, but its just dull, and dramatically limits the local rivalries and playoff races which stir so much more excitement into the games.

    As for the ASG determining home field advantage, I’ve not heard many better suggestions. Is it fair? Probably not. Arbitrary? Pretty much. But is that worse than the “alternating years” approach, which may have cost some teams a title just because it wasn’t their league’s year to get HFA? Would a coin toss be any better? Best record? Meaningless with two teams from completely different leagues, with different schedules and opponents.

  10. Misterd,

    Thanks for the response.

    Dont you see the irony of your last paragraph (especially the last two sentences of it) in the context of the first?

    You say it would be meaningless were the HFA to be derived by best record due to different schedule strength, but that very same  inequality is prevailiant behind who qualifies for the playoffs isnt it? Why is it ok to overlook this inequality for 8 teams season long work & achievement but its a crucial consideration when simply deciding who gets a potentially extra home game in the World Series?

    From my UK perspective, equal schedules would be far from dull. This is subjective though. However, it would certainly be more fair and this aspect certainly wouldnt be subjective. Still, I can accept that this can be explained by culutre and perspective and if fans are happy with this state of affairs, fair enough. But that still doesnt explain the seemingly contradictory reasoning on how HFA in the World series is derived?

    This appears to me as another contradiction within the sport, much like the OP mentioned about MLB deciding the game is both an exhibition event (all teams must be represented) AND be a meaningful contest (HFA in the World Series.)

    Apologies if Im being naive here or I dont have the full picture (I am relatively new to baseball, Im happy to admit) but the logic of the sports infrastructure does appear to be greatly muddled to my English senses.

  11. Morneau career in the first half:      .306/.377/.555/.932
    Morneau career in the second half:  .260/.334/.457/.791
    Why should Morneau be rewarded with an all-star selection simply because he picks the “right” 3 months to play well?
    Clearly Tex isn’t worthy this year, and I assume that the final votes will reflect this.  On the other hand, why should players like Youkilis and Morneau that start hot and fade in the second half get extra votes simply because of when they play better?

  12. JP- granted the Yankees win alot, but hows the Premier League competition when in 18 seasons, in a 20 team league, one team won 11 championships and three total teams won 17 of 18?

    Maybe they SHOULD have an unbalanced schedule with  the better teams playing each other more often, so that atleast some other teams have any remote shot?

    As far as your, “(and no, that doesnt include payrolls.)” comment– well again how do the payrolls for the Premier League- I don’t know since the numbers aren’t as public as they are in the North American sports, but wikipedia says, “However, there is much greater financial disparity among Premier League clubs when compared to the members of any of the ‘Big Four’ North American Sports”.

    So, the Yankees far overspending the rest of the league and a couple of teams being consistant play-off teams doesn’t seem too far off the current staus of the Premier Football League…

  13. Eric,

    It appears that you’ve read my comments as a knock on the Yankees. They werent intended that way at all, far from it. My comments were aimed at the apparent inequities within the infrstructure of the entire sport (for example schedule differencies) and the subsequent contradiction about how they can be tolerated in terms of the competition for playoff qualification but not for HFA in the World Series.

    You’re absolutely correct about the disparity of payrolls in the EPL (which is similar to that of MLB) but one huge difference is that every team has the same schedule. And this is crucial to my original point about my overseas perspective – if teams schedules were changed to create more “big” matchups, the value of the overall competition would be severely reduced. Huge question markes (in the eyes of UK audiences) would usually remain over the eventual winners regardless of who it was. In fact, there appears to be momentum in the EPL’s decision making circles to increase even more fairness into the schedule due to different teams having to play away from home after playing midweek matches in European competitions*

    It appears that US audiences either prefer the inequity in return for a higher volume of “rivalry matchups” etc or at least can tolerate them. Let me repeat, this is fair enough but I dont see how this can suddenly become a stumbling block for deciding HFA when everything else preceeding it is accepted or at least acquiesced.

    As I said in my first comment on this thread, I wasnt entirely sure of where I was going with all this, just felt that providing some “external” perspective on various things might be welcomed. :)

    (* It should be noted that a large reason for the payroll disparity in the EPL is due to European competition and the revenues associated with it. The current setup is far from perfect, at least in my view, but it does make it a lot harder to do a comparison with US sports leagues like MLB when discussing aspects like these as its not quite a “apples to apples” comparison.)

  14. I think the fans should pick the starters (including the pitchers) and then the players and the managers (in total…not just the winning manager) should choose the reserves.  And I agree that forcing each team to have at least one representative is ridiculous.  (Although the team hosting the game that particular year should have a representative…that seems reasonable to me.)
    My “wrinkle” is this:  Instead of having the ASG determine home field advantage in the World Series, it should be the cumulative W-L records of the leagues against each other in inter-league play.  Isn’t THAT a true indicator of who is the better league, rather than the results of one arbitrary game that never actually has the best guys from each league in it?

  15. Mike,

    I’ve written about this so many times and nearly every time I included the same wrinkle as you… I had to re-read this posting to see that I conveniently omitted it this time.  Figures.

    Yes, using W-L records in Interleague play as the determining factor would be a good alternative, even if we’re sick of interleague (it ain’t going away!).

  16. Jason,
    Agreed, interleague is here to stay.  And also agree that it sucks.  (Even though the Yanks-Mets games are fun, and I’m sure Cubs-White Sox games are fun, that’s about it.  The rest of the “rivalries” don’t work.)
    BUT…it IS a good indicator of which league is better.  And using that, instead of the ASG, to determine home field advantage, makes more sense.
    It also makes the ASG a true exhibition, which it should be.  And no more worries about ties, extra innings, etc.