|Sunday, July 6
Updated: July 11, 9:03 PM ET
Players picked reserves with 'wrong' votes
By Jayson Stark
Let's start with the positive: Allowing players to vote for their favorite All-Stars might be the best wrinkle in the whole darned All-Star Game extravaganza since the Home Run Derby. That's the good news.
It was fun. It was fascinating. They cared. (At least the guys who voted cared.) They tried. (At least the guys who voted tried.) And they sure did give us plenty to talk about.
Now here's the bad news: Somebody should have told those players that most of their votes didn't count.
Heck, somebody should have told all of us. But it's true. We've had a little time now to reflect on the new All-Star election system. And the more we've thought about it, the more we've figured out there was a hole so big in the players' system, you could have driven Rich Garces through it.
The flaw was this: Players were voting as if they were voting on starters in this game. But of course, they weren't. They were voting on the reserves.
So it wasn't the 70 percent or so who voted for Edgar Martinez at DH who decided which player made the team as Martinez's backup. It was all the guys who, essentially, voted for the wrong player -- or, to put it more succinctly, it was "All The Idiots Who Didn't Vote For Edgar."
They're the ones who were left in the voting pool to pick their All-Star -- i.e., the second-leading vote-getter. And that's dumb. Isn't it? None of the votes for Martinez in that player election actually counted, you see, because he'd already been elected by the fans. But the players didn't know that at the time, because they had to vote a week and a half ago _ and the fan balloting wasn't over yet.
So when the player vote totals got released, the only impact of all those votes for Martinez, for Carlos Delgado, for Todd Helton and Albert Pujols and all the players who won in both elections, was to announce to the world that the fans got those votes right. And that's a great thing. Don't get us wrong. Half the fun of letting players vote is providing a chance to see where they agreed -- and disagreed -- with us commonfolk.
But it still makes no sense that all the players who cast the "right" vote essentially had their votes tossed in the nearest dumpster, while the players who cast the "wrong" vote picked the All-Star reserve.
So if players are going to continue to vote for the reserves -- and they should --baseball needs to fix the flaw in the player voting system. Fortunately, let us reassure them: That won't be hard.
The simplest idea would be just to let the players vote after the fan balloting is over, so the players aren't wasting votes on guys who are already on the team. But the simplest ideas aren't always the best ideas. So let's announce right here we're not in favor of that one.
We assume fans -- and even us media geniuses -- want to see if the players vote for the same All-Stars we vote for. So if we have them vote only on the reserves, we spoil all that fun.
Here, then, is a better idea:
Just let the players vote for two people at every position. And six outfielders. But they would designate which players they were voting for as starters and which ones they were voting on as backups.
Then points would be assigned to each vote, kind of like in the MVP elections -- say 10 points for a vote as a starter, five points for a vote as a reserve.
Then every player who votes would have a say in selecting every All-Star sent to the game by the players. And you would never again have an All-Star elected by the players who got a grand total of 21 votes, as Mike Sweeney did, as Delgado's backup.
We're not saying Sweeney didn't deserve to go. We're just saying there isn't another election on the planet where a candidate can say he got "elected" with something like six percent of the vote. The people are supposed to speak, not whisper.
If we could undangle all those chads in Dade County, if we could fix the way we elect presidents, then we can fix a little All-Star election snafu, darn it. And once we make it safe for every major-leaguer to head back to the polls, who knows -- maybe we can even figure out a way to let Dontrelle Willis pitch to Ichiro next Tuesday.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.