Because of changes in the traditional voting rules for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game made in 2010, Royals’ manager Ned Yost won’t have the same capacity to stock the roster with his own players that managers once enjoyed.
As it happens, though, Yost may be hard-pressed to have any such need or desire:
When MLB on Monday announced the latest balloting for the July 14 game, the Royals’ presence in the starting lineup had expanded from a fascinating five to a borderline farcical seven in a week’s time.
Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales on Monday joined in the would-be lineup Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez, who remained the overall leading vote-getter with 4,419,620.
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Cain was second overall (4,211,472) and Moustakas third (4,046,726).
Not that there’s anything wrong with this, exactly; the All-Star Game is all about the fans, who merely are availing themselves to the system, and who’s to say we’d rather see what pure, cold sabermetrics would yield?
Then again, there is a truly absurd reflection of something gone awry here when you consider that Omar Infante (hitting .221) is second among second basemen and Alex Rios (hitting .255 in 13 games, having missed 40 because of a hand injury) is fourth among outfielders.
Meanwhile, this doesn’t even account for pitchers, like the deserving Wade Davis, to be voted on by players, managers and coaches.
Taken to its logical extreme with this, you could even envision a messy scenario wherein there are so many Royals on the team that Yost has, say, three discretionary picks but four teams that don’t yet have representation.
At this stage, MLB might have a more credible All-Star makeup by just declaring that every starter on the defending league championship team has an automatic spot in the All-Star lineup — roughly like the way U.S. Olympic men’s basketball teams once were built around college champions: Seven Kansas players, for instance, were on the 1952 Olympic team.
There are a lot of different ways to look at this, of course, from seeing it as a ballot-box-stuffing embarrassment that has to be stopped (along the lines of what happened in 1957) to … it’s sure been a long time coming for the Royals and their fans so, what the heck?
And, really, it actually would be fun and cool to see it play out this way.
At least if you have a sense of humor and aren’t concerned about what it says about the integrity of the system.
Your viewpoint probably depends most on what team you’ve given your allegiance, and an easy way to measure that is simply to ask yourself how you’d feel if a rival’s fans had been this engaged in the cause?
But a couple things are clear and distinct:
Unless and until someone exposes a glitch in the system that allows 35 votes from any email address (and thus implicitly encourages voting from multiple email addresses) or determines a massive conspiracy to game the system, this is all within the bounds of the rules and exactly what MLB asked for by setting it up this way.
So … good for Royals fans that have enough conviction and time to dedicated themselves to this.
Along with all that, though, is a pertinent reminder:
The All-Star Game is a sideshow, a spectacle, and merely an exhibition in the end.
It’s time to stop attaching contrived meaning to it by having the result determine home-field advantage in the World Series.
Even if the Royals evidently will have plenty to say in their own self-interest on July 14 if they’re able to make it to the 2015 World Series.