1. Too many Cubs.
Four Cubs will start tonight for the National League. Originally five were in the lineup, but Dexter Fowler is injured. Five of eight starters were Cubs. Seriously, five of eight.
Here’s the thing about Cubs fans: because of superstation WGN they are everywhere, and in disproportionate numbers, especially for a team that posted 59 losing seasons out of 107 since they last won a World Series.
Yes the Cubs had the strongest start in the MLB, but they have lost 14 of their last 20 games. More importantly only one of those starters, Anthony Rizzo, clearly deserves the position. The others were outperformed by players receiving fewer votes. Some, and I’m looking at you, Addison Russell and Dexter Fowler, put up weaker stats than several of their colleagues.
Which brings me to…
2. Change the selection process. Please.
The fan voting process is ridiculous. I understand the value of involving fans, but why not let the fans choose the last few players after the starters and reserves have been chosen by the experts – coaches, players, and sports writers? And while they are making changes, how about each fan getting one vote? The current system, with fans choosing the starters and each fan getting 35 votes, results in many voters simply selecting players from their favorite team. It’s a nearly meaningless popularity contest.
Give the fans a smaller role. The resulting teams will be better, fairer, and more meaningful for the players. Keep the rule that each team sends at least one player, though. Team inclusion is at least as important as fan participation.
3. The whole home-team-advantage-for-the-World-Series thing.
While I understand the motivation for this move (former Commissioner Bud Selig wanted to make the game matter), and I remember the ugly mess that was the 2002 All Star game (which ended in a tie after both teams ran out of pitchers), it makes no sense for players who may have no relationship with the ultimate league champions to determine home team advantage in the World Series.
For that matter, the old method of alternating between leagues every year wasn’t fair either. The team with the best record deserves home field advantage, the way it’s done in basketball and hockey. If cities can be prepared to host playoffs for those sports, why is baseball any different?
4. Ugliest uniforms ever.
What was with those All Star uniforms in last night’s Home Run Derby? Brown and yellow with a font from the ‘60s? Yikes.
Enjoy tonight’s game. And may the future games include the best players and have no impact on the World Series. Oh, and Go A.L.!