by Kim Thomson, Contributing Writer and Loyal A’s Fan
A San Francisco-laden MLB All-Star roster played a significant role in the National League stomping Tuesday. And all it took was a little (actually, a lot of) ballot box-stuffing. Giants fans and players were harshly criticized leading up to the All-Star Game for pushing their candidates past the more obvious choices to fill out the 2012 All-Star roster.
While their method can be questioned, there’s no argument about whether they successfully represented the National League. With Pablo Sandoval’s three-run triple and Melky Cabrera’s fourth-inning homer, the Giants were easily the most influential players from any one team in the All-Star game. Even Buster Posey got a walk.
If their hitting didn’t steal the show, Matt Cain – fresh off a perfect game – provided strong pitching early on. Following the game, Cabrera was recognized as the 2012 All-Star MVP.
Despite the outcome, at least half of the Giants on the All-Star roster weren’t the logical choices for their respective positions. Posey got a record-breaking 7,621,370 votes, but his offensive stats didn’t merit the swell of support behind him. Nor did they match those of fellow catchers Carlos Ruiz or Yadier Molina. Posey is clearly a fan favorite in San Francisco and his performance, while brief, has been solid. But a record-breaking 7 million-plus votes? It could be that Giants fans associate him the World Series win in 2010. He was called up near the middle of that year and performed very well, so well that he won the NL Rookie of the Year award.
Pablo Sandoval is another product of wildly loyal fans. He had far more votes than Mets third baseman David Wright but a much lower batting average and fewer home runs and RBI, not to mention his broken hand, which cost him 35 games. His election could even have prevented a few of the Giants pitchers from appearing on the All-Star roster. Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner were likely omitted to save room for other teams’ players since three Giants were already starting. Yet the Kung Fu Panda’s late surge topped out at 5.7 million votes.
To prove just how extreme their voting was, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt was voted into the top five when his numbers are nowhere near All-Star caliber. That would be like trying to lump Kurt Suzuki in with Ruiz and Molina.
Arguments have been made that voting should be taken away from the fans. CBS’s Ernie Palladino campaigns heavily for the lineup card to be back in the hands of the managers. He argues that, “you can’t trust fans to do as good a job as a professional manager.” But the All-Star game is for the fans, after all. It’s a parade of the fans’ favorite players, a kind of dream fantasy team playing out. It doesn’t really mean anything, except of course to determine home-field advantage in the World Series. That’s another thing Palladino argues against, saying it’s an “utterly stupid practice.” Now that’s something to get behind.
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