Almanac Baseball: All Stars Align

Voting for the MLB All Star Game is underway so I thought I would ruminate on it as a concept. My first observation is the way the event began as the brainchild of a newspaper proprietor no doubt to foster circulation for his publication. The World Series has a similar storyline and the two classics (the Midsummer and Fall) can be seen as metaphors for American enterprise writ large in their sports. Unlike Australia, American fans almost seem to wear it as a badge of honour that the modern opiate of the masses is so intertwined with commerce. One only has to think of the history of, say, cricket and rugby in this country to realise we have had a vastly different experience.


So how do fans get involved with the All Star game? While managers and pitchers are handled via a different system, the vast bulk of the players who take part do so via a popularity contest. Until a few years ago there was a quaint system where fans filled out ballots at ballparks when they attended major league games. This has resonance with America’s claim to be the beacon of democracy. What could be more democratic than filling out a ballot at the baseball version of the ballot box and thereby having your say on who represented you in the chamber (or ballpark).


Now the fans have to jump online and vote. Patently not as romantic as the previous system, it is still a clarion call for the populace to get engaged and could even be seen as the canary in the coalmine for the inevitable onset of electronic parliamentary voting.


With the game still over two months away there is still plenty of time for votes to be made and tallied and players to be in the reckoning or tossed asunder. While the first Classic will never match the drama and high stakes of the second one in October it is still a great marker of a player’s career to be selected. All would gladly walk over broken glass to get the nod. To again draw a local analogy one can speculate about how much selection in the AFL’s All Australian Team means to the players in comparison to a flag or a Brownlow. Taking it further, one could also speculate what they would think if the voting was taken out of the hands of a panel of experts and handed over to the fans. I suspect both the fans and the players may be up for that. Then all of the stars would truly be aligned.




Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.

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