Taylor Teagarden, a catcher for the Texas Rangers, was 4th in the voting for American League catcher in numbers that were released on June 7th. In 10 games this year, Teagarden has 4 walks … and 1 hit. That sole hit – a ground ball in the 3rd inning of an April 24th loss to the Tigers – didn’t save his job. He was demoted to the minors and is currently working behind the plate in AA Frisco. Teagarden’s .037 batting average apparently endeared him to a lot of fans, though – his vote total of 247,248 was nearly 60,000 more votes than Mike Napoli of the Angels had received. Napoli has 40 times as many hits as Teagarden. I’m sure Teagarden is a great guy, but he’s not having an All-Star caliber year by any stretch of the imagination.

While I love the All-Star game and enjoy having the fans vote for the starters, there are some flaws in the system.

  • The voting starts too early. Fans can begin voting for the All Star Game in late April. That would be the equivalent of voting for the NFL Pro Bowl after week 2 of the NFL season. It’s far to early see a fair sample size from players. This is particularly harsh on players who tend to start slowly. David Ortiz of the Red Sox had an absolutely horrible April before bouncing back with a fantastic May.  Maybe start the voting at the All Star break.
  • The ballot is static. You’ll always see names on the ballot that don’t belong there (such as Teagarden). Once MLB sets the ballot, they don’t change it, even if a different player emerges as the starter for that team. Want to vote for the new guy? You’ll need to write him in.
  • The ease of multiple ballots renders the process meaningless. You can cast 25 ballots per email address, and MLB makes it very simply to duplicate your ballot. I can very easily spawn new email addresses, and could vote thousands of times in the course of a day, if I wanted to. But what’s the point? Where does this cross the line from “fan” to “person who is trying to game the system”? Granted, ballot box stuffing goes back a long time, but this makes it even easier. It would be nice if voting was a bit more limited.
  • Too much “homer” voting. Certainly fans should vote for their favorite players … if they are having a reasonably good year. Really, though, don’t vote for Teagarden just because you’re a Rangers fan or Ken Griffey Jr. (3rd in DH voting ahead of the aforementioned Ortiz) just because you remember The Kid being a stud in the ’90s. Seriously, Griffey was hitting .184 when he retired. I’ll return the favor by not voting for Dexter Fowler (demoted by the Rockies earlier in the month).
  • The rosters are too big. In an effort to make nearly everyone an All-Star, rosters have been expanded to 34 players for each league. In a regular baseball game, rosters are 25 players. The unwieldly size makes life difficult for the managers, as they try to wedge as many players into the game as possible.
  • The rule that each team must have a representative. Honestly, a lot of teams have sucky players by choice. Pittsburgh Pirates, I’m looking at you. Why reward player simply because a team’s bad personnel decisions have made him the best of a group of mediocre players? Sorry, but the tallest sunflower is not a redwood, even if it’s the tallest sunflower in the field.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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