In defense of the MLB fan ballot

As Major League Baseball prepares for its upcoming mid-season All-Star Game, there seems to be one strange, yet humorous, phenomenon taking place.

One of the All-Star teams is almost entirely comprised of Kansas City Royals. Yes, the Royals – a franchise that, before last season, hadn‘t made the playoffs in almost 30 years.

Yet, if the MLB All-Star Game started today, the Royals would have six starters on the American League team. Keep in mind that each team is only allowed nine players on a baseball field at one time.

The Kansas City Royals are dominating the All-Star game voting and they are not sorry

— Bleacher Report (@BR_MLB) June 15, 2015

Now Kansas City isn‘t that bad this year – the second best-winning percentage thus far should mean something – but isn‘t this just a little over the top? How did we get to this point?

It all comes down to fan voting. Millions of fans fill out ballots, and the players with the most votes, often the big-name hitters or the dominating pitcher, get the honor of starting in the All-Star Game.

The most likely cause of an almost-all-Royals starting lineup, of course, is that more Kansas City fans are voting for their guys over every team‘s players. It is like a cult, or a team, sticking up for one another, to the degree that they have taken over the sport.

The other 29 fan bases simply don‘t seem to care as much.

So having the fans vote players into the All-Star Game needs to stop, right?

Wrong, and this is why: fan votes encourage fan interaction. This is exactly what they‘re supposed to do.

Allowing fans to vote gives them a vested interest in the first half of the baseball season. It gives them the feeling that their ideas matter.

For years, there‘s been an ongoing story about the decline of baseball attendance and viewership. While this tale has since been debunked, many casual sports fans still argue whether or not baseball should continue to hold its title as “America‘s Pastime.”

The only reason this argument still has legs is because two other major sports in the United States- football and basketball- allow their fans to actually get involved with the sports they love. The NFL has a public Pro Bowl vote, and the NBA lets their fans vote for the All-Star Game starters.

Would it really help Major League Baseball to disallow fans‘ privilege to vote and see their favorite players play on one of the most talented teams in the world for one night?

Wouldn‘t that take away the small amount of fan interest during the already stretched-thin first half of the season, when the NFL Draft and NBA playoffs are also taking place?

Besides, doesn‘t everyone want to see Sammy Sosa face off against Pedro Martinez?

There is precedence for this phenomenon. In 1957, the Cincinnati Reds had seven players voted in as starters.

The MLB Commissioner, Ford Frick, stepped in and replaced two of the starters with players from other teams on his own accord. Frick also took away the fans‘ voting rights, and fans did not get to choose All-Star rosters again until 1970.

The consequences of that decision seemed to hurt the game, albeit not too badly. Baseball attendance dropped for six straight years, beginning in 1959, but never too drastically.

That was before the rise of the Internet and social media.  If fans – attentive, caring, dedicated fans – had that right stripped from them today, the backlash to the decision would be harsh, and perhaps crippling.

Baseball is already being perceived as boring and unpopular. Sure, six players from the Kansas City Royals is ridiculous, but if fans don‘t like it, they have the right to disagree and the tools needed to fight it themselves.

Two thoughts, @WebEldusto 1. Great job by KC fans to turn out the vote – all good. 2. It‘s a less than ideal for MLB and the All-Star Game.

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 16, 2015

The MLB All-Star Game ballot empowers fans. It encourages them to watch baseball and make smart, educated decisions.

Let them vote.


This article was written by Joshua Palmer from University of Central Oklahoma / The Vista and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.