"Strategizing" The Ballot
June 30, 2004
As I was filling out my 50 All-Star ballots for the second day in a row (25 for me, 25 for my wife), I got to thinking about the strategies we should probably be taking as fans. I have no problem with the All-Star Game being a showcase for the fans, where the fans decide who they want to see, and the game is more for show than competition. I also don't have a problem trying to make it a competitive event that holds some ramifications.
The issue I have difficulty with is combining the two. You can't make the game count for something and still have the fans decide the starters. Since baseball insists on this, however, shouldn't we, as fans, help our favorite team as much as possible?
How can you do this? Well, suppose your favorite team is the Houston Astros, and you feel they still have a chance at making the playoffs. Home field advantage in Game 7 of the World Series could mean the difference between crying on your couch and celebrating in the street. Since the All-Star Game winner is awarded such a prize, you, the Astros fan, should vote for the crummiest AL players on the ballot. Put Brian Jordan in the outfield! Vote Enrique Wilson enough times that he gets to start! If all of Houston banded together and did this, it just might make a difference at a couple positions, which could mean the difference between winning and losing.
If Kevin Mench is forced to play the first few innings instead of Vladimir Guerrero, there's a good chance that decision could affect the outcome. Moreover, just forcing Mench into the game means another worthy player will be sitting at home.
Is this abusing our power? Heck no! If Selig wants us to vote but wants the game to count, then voting in a way that helps our team is USING our power, not abusing. This is the World Series we're talking about! Cubs fans have waited almost 100 years for a ring, so do you expect them to vote "politely" when doing so might cost them home field advantage in the Fall Classic? That would be silly.
Having said that, I voted for the players I thought were most deserving, but being a Braves fan from Chicago, Atlanta's chances are slim and the White Sox have a decent shot at stirring it up late in the summer, so I took the classic approach. Armed with my new knowledge, however, next year I will not hesitate to vote for that struggling rookie to unseat ARod as the starting third baseman.