COMMENTARY | Since fans have been granted the power to vote-in the position players for the MLB All-Star game, it has become little more than a circus. If ever something was nothing but a popularity contest, it's the Mid-Summer Classic.
This isn't all the fans' fault, mind you. On every team's website, they push (hard) for fans to vote in their respective team's players. The Chicago Cubs are no different. You can find the "#VoteCastro" or "#VoteRizzo" pleas tattooed all over their website. It doesn't matter that Starlin Castro is buried in the worst slump of his career -- sporting a shiny .228 batting average. It's all about supporting your team allegiance.
What a load of hogwash.
I'm a loyal follower of the Chicago Cubs, but this practice makes an absolute mockery of what something like the All-Star game should be all about -- the best players competing against one another on the same field. I'm not as against the practice of having every team represented -- it's a nice glimpse of unity -- but stuffing ballot boxes for players who aren't anything close to All-Star-caliber is just, well, a little sad. The All-Star game has been cheapened enough over the years without voting in random players.
It is because of the above that you should not vote any of the Chicago Cubs into the 2013 All-Star game. It's not because I'm anti-Cubs, or against the players on the ballot, it's because no one on this team (except pitcher Travis Wood -- fans can't vote in pitchers) is worthy of the honor.
Even if you look at the members of the Cubs who are most deserving, they don't stack up when your gaze is league-wide. Nate Schierholtz (finally getting an opportunity to play everyday) has been a delightful surprise for the Cubs and has been getting the most attention for an All-Star selection. Sure, his stats are solid (.296 AVG, 10 HRs, 29 RBIs, .905 OPS), but does he really deserve a spot on the roster over Carlos Beltran (.305 AVG, 17 HRs, 46 RBIs, .879 OPS) or Carlos Gonzalez (.300 AVG, 21 HRs, 57 RBIs, .992 OPS)? Would you really consider Schierholtz anywhere close to these players? No disrespect intended, but I'm not sure I would.
The current voting results have some highly questionable selections. Justin Upton (.240 AVG, 15 HRs, 34 RBIs, .805 OPS) somehow ranks second among outfielders while someone like Jay Bruce (.282 AVG, 18 HRs, 54 RBIs, .866 OPS) doesn't even crack the top 15. Given he's only played in 44 games, Bryce Harper is a pretty questionable selection at number three as well.
Giving fans the vote will (and does) lead to this type of inconsistency every year, so this hardly news, but encouraging fans to vote by team allegiance just seems silly. It also cheapens an enterprise that is teetering on the edge of relevancy to begin with.
You would think that if the All-Star game is going to continue to determine home-field advantage in the World Series, fans would want to send the best players from each league in order to help their respective teams should they reach that point, as opposed to a shortstop who is hitting .228.
The day may come when Anthony Rizzo, Schierholtz or Castro are deserving of the All-Star nod and I'll be at the front of the line voting them in. But for 2013, no Cubs have earned a spot worthy of votes. All-Star games should honor greatness, not mediocrity. If they don't, why do we even have them?
That might be the best question of all.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him a chance to closely follow and report Chicago sports as a freelance writer through Yahoo! Contributor and Yahoo! Sports . He is also a senior in college majoring in English and Creative Writing. You can follow him on Twitter @bdavis_sports.
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