HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
June 25, 2006

All-star voting is not perfect

By Matt Kane

The second Tuesday in July is always a special day. It’s the day Major League Baseball plays its annual all-star game. This year’s game will be the 78th edition of the midsummer classic, which always gets a raise out of my neck hairs.

Since I was old enough to see a television, I always loved the all-star game. I have always loved how, at the Major League Baseball all-star game, the players are not all dressed in the same uniform. I love looking down the baselines during player introductions at the rainbow of colors formed by the 30 different uniforms worn by the players, who truly represent their own teams at this all-star game.

Of course, I always looked for the pin-striped white or grey uniforms of the Twins, but, for the most part, my line of site was flooded with the pinstripes of the Yankees.

And that’s the only thing I don’t like about the Major League Baseball all-star game. There are often too many players from one team represented, and that is a result of the selection process.

Leaving the decision of who will start in the game up to the fans is nothing more than a popularity contest. I’m usually not one to bring out the “It’s not fair” card, but how can it be fair when a player from a smaller market, like Justin Morneau in Minnesota, is on the same ballot as a player from a huge media market, like David Ortiz is in Boston?

Looking at the vote totals through Thursday, it appears most of the leading vote-getters at each position are deserving, but there are always a few that make one wonder what the heck is wrong with people.

Ortiz is bugging me the most.

Through Thursday, Ortiz was hitting .332, with 13 home runs and 46 RBIs. These numbers should definitely be represented in San Francisco July 10, but Ortiz collected these numbers as a designated hitter and not as a first baseman, where his name is listed on the ballot.

I understand there is not a DH when the all-star game is played at a National League stadium, and I want to keep it that way, so I think, in honoring the National League tradition, the DH should be sacrificed when it comes to voting.

The all-star ballots are made up well ahead of time, as evident by Rondell White’s name being listed in the contingent of American League outfielders, but there should be some defensive requirements for a player to make the all-star game.

They should have to play a minimum number of games at the position they are listed under to even be eligible. Ortiz has played exactly four games at first base this year.

Morneau has played 68 games at first base, and he is batting .278 with 20 home runs and 56 RBI. I think Morneau is the choice for American League first baseman.

Ortiz should go to the game, but as a reserve. All he does is hit during the season and that’s all American League manager Jim Leyland should let him do at AT&T Park.

Morneau isn’t the only one getting the raw deal of a popularity contest. So are Detroit’s Magglio Ordonez and Colorado’s Matt Holliday, both outfielders.

Ordonez is the Major League leader in batting with a .383 average, is second in RBIs with 67, and has 13 home runs. Ordonez ranks fourth in the American League outfield vote. The leading vote-getter is Vladimir Guerrero, who should be, but standing in Ordonez’s way is Manny Ramirez. Ramirez is batting .300 with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs. According to CBSSportsline.com, that ranks him seventh out of left fielders.

A bigger joke than the American League first base vote is the National League outfield vote.

Is nine home runs, a .268 average and 39 RBIs an all-star season? According to New York Mets fans it is. Those are the numbers of Carlos Beltran, who is leading the National League in votes with 1.3 million.

That’s 800,000 more than Holiday, who sits in seventh place among outfielders, despite being second in the Majors to Ordonez with a .366 batting average. He also has 13 home runs and 58 RBIs.

Now those are all-star numbers. I guess what I’m saying is I would like to see the purple and black of a Rockies uniform in place of the blue and orange of the Mets take up a spot on the baseline.

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