In case you’re a baseball fan that somehow doesn’t use social media or watch ESPN, I need to tell you that there’s been some drama concerning the Major League All-Star Game, its Final Vote, and some pretty widely perceived snubs.
When MLB announced this year’s Final Vote participants – Yu Darvish, Jake Peavy, Jason Hammel, Jonathon Broxton, and Ernesto Frieri of the American League and David Freese, Bryce Harper, Michael Bourn, and Aaron Hill of the National League – Cleveland Indians fans went borderline insane that Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis didn’t make the vote.
Really, Cleveland fans had been going insane since it was announced that Texas manager Ron Washington gave his own Ian Kinsler the backup second base spot in the first place (and it can be argued that Cleveland fans are just insane in general), but not even getting a chance at the Final Vote sent the few mentally stable Tribe fans left over the edge. (Before you go getting angry, I own approximately 482 Indians hats, so I’m right with you)
Indians fans took to Twitter with the #JasonKipnis, #JKtoCLE, and countless other hashtags to rub it into MLB’s face that @TheJK_Kid’s rightful place next Tuesday is in Kansas City playing for the American League All-Stars. I’m on the Kip Train with the rest of Cleveland, but I can’t seem to must the outrage that most Tribe fans felt about Kipnis not making the All-Star team.
My lack of outrage doesn’t even necessarily have anything to do with Jason Kipnis. I can’t seem to get angry that a player missed out on a game in which the starting roster spots are decided by a fan vote. Fan votes are the dumbest thing any sport, competition, or otherwise can use to decide anything.
I’m also not saying that fans are dumb. I’m surrounded by intelligent, passionate fans on a daily basis. Fans aren’t stupid, but fan votes aren’t about smart fans. Fan votes are about the largest fan bases clicking a button hundreds of thousands of times. It’s barely even a popularity contest; it’s just large market team fans throwing their weight around MLB.com.
Did Jason Kipnis (.276 BA, 11 HR, 49 RBI, 20 SB) deserve a spot in the All-Star game more than Ian Kinsler (.276 BA, 9 HR, 40 RBI, 15 SB) or fan chosen starter Robinson Cano (.316 BA, 20 HR, 50 RBI, 1 SB)? Maybe Kipnis deserved the nod over Kinsler, but Kinsler’s Rangers are also (currently) 18 games over .500 and probably the best team in baseball. The fans got second base in the American League right, but had all those statistics been switched around, Cano would still probably still get voted the starter. The New York Yankees fans are going to outvote Cleveland Indians fans 100% of the time. The only chance small or mid-market team players have at starting is if they are so great that their popularity outreaches the popularity of the team they play for.
Honestly, I’m not even sure if Kipnis was the biggest All-Star snub in baseball this season. Atlanta Braves Micheal Bourn (.310 BA, 7 HR, 32 RBI, .990 fld%) surely deserved a spot on the National League team just as much as Kipnis deserved a spot on the American League squad. We didn’t hear the outcry for Bourn here in Cleveland just like Atlanta didn’t hear the outcry for Kipnis.
Our fan bases don’t resonate like New York, Texas, Boston, St. Louis, and the west coast fan bases do. Until Bud Selig does away with the fan vote and leaves the All-Star teams up to a panel of non-biased, national media members (or something close), the All-Star teams may as well be chosen by reading Nielson Ratings.
Sure, Jason Kipnis should have been named to the 2012 American League All-Star team. Indians fans also should have put him there. But, ultimately, leaving the rosters up to the city that can click a button the most time for a game that counts is one of the reasons that baseball is losing it’s grip on the title of America’s Pastime.