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A few thoughts on selecting All-Stars

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  July 6, 2011 11:05 AM

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It's silly that the All-Star Game determines home field advantage in the World Series. But Major League Baseball caved in to Fox and that's the way it is.

That being the case, something needs to be done with how the All-Star teams are selected. If the game counts, let's pick some real rosters.

As it stands now, the starters are picked by the fans. Then the players have a vote on some reserves and then the managers get to pick some players. Finally there's a cockamamie Final Vote that basically rewards two players whose teams come up with a creative marketing plan to get people to vote on line.

So what we could get is Jose Valverde pitching in a critical spot that could determine whether the Red Sox get four games at home in the Series or three. How would you like to see Game 6 and Game 7 without David Ortiz in the lineup?

Here's one proposal:

1. Eliminate the requirement that every team gets at least one representative. Bad teams full of bad players should not play a role in determining home field in the Series.

2. Let the fans continue to vote for the starters. For the most part, Derek Jeter aside, the fans usually get it right.

3. The players vote is a bit of a farce. This year, for instance, the players voted Brandon League and Chris Perez as AL relief pitchers ahead of Daniel Bard. League has a 1.069 WHIP and is averaging 5.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Bard has an 0.82 WHIP and is averaging 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

Or this: 228 players didn't vote for Adrian Gonzalez at first base. Somehow 335 players voted for Troy Tulowitzki as the NL shortstop instead of Jose Reyes. Tulowitzki has a 115 OPS+ this season. Reyes has a 158.

If the MLBPA insists on a role, form a committee of players to vote on a certain percentage of the team.

4. The rule excluding any starters who work on Sunday for a game played on Tuesday also is ridiculous. So the game counts, but out of pure coincidence some of the best pitchers can't participate?

That MLB is willing to risk injury for the World Baseball Classic but not for the All-Star Game that could determine how the championship of the sport is conducted makes little sense. Somebody who pitches on Sunday can face a few batters on Tuesday.

5. Managers should not be allowed to select players. If the game counts, then there's no room to make your own guys happy. Reserves should be selected based solely on merit and building the strongest team. Make the process transparent.

Once the fans and players have voted, any gaps can be filled by a panel of team executives and managers. Make the manager of the game part of that process, but not the sole decision maker.

I'd rather have a smart GM or two picking players than somebody who wants his No. 4 starter to get a little reward because he's a great guy.

6. Tell the players that winning is the goal and not getting everybody in the game. The MLBPA supported the decision to have the game count, so the price you pay is that everybody may not play. Ron Washington shouldn't cost the AL home field because, shucks, he wants to get Matt Wieters an at-bat.

If the game counts, and it does, then the rest of the process has to reflect that.

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