Hallelujah! All-Star voting not Royals mess
The world didn’t end. No one was thrown into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
No hail or earthquakes or flooding or sulfur or disease.
No one suffered a slow, painful, agonizing death Sunday.
Well, except for the Japanese women’s soccer team.
But the disaster that for weeks now was predicted to stain the Major League Baseball All-Star game in terms of which American League players might start never occurred. Funny. All that talk about unfair voting practices, and yet the selections didn’t turn out to be a Royal pain in anyone’s rear.
Put down the strychnine. Kansas City won’t have seven of its players start the All-Star Game July 14 at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. The Royals had four — two infielders, two outfielders — voted to the starting lineup.
Thankfully, one wasn’t second baseman Omar Infante and his .231 batting average, because while I’m not saying that would have been a joke of monumental proportions, I am saying U.S. women’s soccer hero Carli Lloyd could come off the pitch and do a comparable job.
But just because fans of the Royals grew tired in the final stretch and stopped to have their fingers iced from so much Internet clicking when casting ballots doesn’t mean the process can’t be improved.
This has never been a Kansas City problem. Whether those from the city of short ribs and jazz went about their voting in an ethical manner or used some computer shenanigans when it came to manipulating email addresses during the process, this is the system baseball created.
It’s also one that while not needing a complete overhaul, certainly could handle some major tweaks.
Rob Manfred is baseball’s new commissioner who needs to be as much like Adam Silver — the NBA’s not-so-new commissioner any more — as possible.
Which means proactive and open-minded in scope.
I’ve liked some of Manfred’s ideas since he replaced Bud Selig in January, like the fact he wants to speed up the game and shorten the regular season and expand replay and embrace more advanced analytics.
I haven’t liked others, specifically the one about banning defensive shifts. Manfred has since backpedaled a bit on that concept, because I’m pretty sure enough people convinced him it was a few straws short of idiotic.
But he can make the All-Star Game voting process better.
He can improve that which has obvious flaws.
I never agreed the All-Star Game winner should decide which league earns homefield advantage in the World Series. That was Selig’s brainchild after the 2002 All-Star Game ended in a 7-7 tie because both teams ran out of pitchers. The idea that deciding such an important part of the postseason on one outcome in July is like basing your opinion about a family doctor on the strength of a handshake.
While it’s not likely anything will change soon in regard to the importance put on the game, Manfred could help avoid what could have been an incredibly unpopular reaction should the Royals have landed as many as seven starters this season.
Fans should never be removed from the process. They pay the way.
But the weight of which their vote holds needs to be diminished.
You could do it by adding more pockets of voters. You could do it it by limiting the number of email accounts to one per IP address. You could do it by shortening the time voters have to cast ballots. You could do it by continuing to allow fans to vote for their favorite players, but have the managers decide on starting lineups. You could actually devise a computer program to select the starters based on statistics and various metrics and have fans vote for the reserves.
You could do a lot of things to make things better.
The Royals are again a World Series contender and have today the American League’s best winning percentage. So the idea that outfielders Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain joined shortstop Alcides Escobar and catcher Salvador Perez as All-Star starters is hardly a foolish conclusion to a month’s worth of voting.
It’s still a memorable event, one that this year will feature Bryce Harper of the Nationals as his league’s leading vote-getter. In a season when Las Vegas products have made headlines across baseball, it’s fitting that Harper and his Most Valuable Player-type production thus far will be highlighted among all his fellow stars.
In the end, the system didn’t prove to be a joke. I’m not sure if it worked to perfection, but at least there wasn’t any lake of fire burning with brimstone.
The All-Star voting process can be fixed. Needs to be. Manfred has some work to do.
But this isn’t a disaster.
You know, not like that stupid rule about every team needing to be represented at the game …
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be a heard on, “Seat and Ed,” on Fox Sports 1340 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.