The ballots are in and the fans have selected the starters for the 2019 MLB All Star Game. I have to admit that I was wrong about the new balloting procedure. Though I am still uncomfortable with people being allowed to vote multiple times in the opening round, the fans did seem to do a great job with this year's selections. There was only one starter selection I did not agree with and even that one is defensible.
That one pick is the National League first baseman. I had Josh Bell and Peter Alonso ahead of Freddie Freeman. But you would have to think that both of them will be selected as reserves. The choice of Freeman is very defensible as he is having another great season and his fWAR is right in the ballpark as the others. A quick study shows me that Alonso should have been given the nod.
I am also very pleased that the managers have been relieved of the ability to pick the pitching staff. It was so embarrassing the way the managers would stock the All Star staff with four or five of their own pitchers (or more). Let's hope the league office does a better job of taking the pitchers having the best year.
My only wonder when it comes to pitching is that there are so many different roles now. There are closers, starters, openers, setup guys and on and on it goes. Do you pick one from each category? Or do you stick with starters and closers with the best setup guy sprinkled in?
Anyway, the point is that despite my ferocious objection to the process, the process led to the correct results. Congratulation, MLB!
That is the positive side of this post. On the negative side, I really have to admit that I hate this London Series. While a nice way to promote baseball worldwide, the timing just sort of stinks. For the participating teams (the Yankees and Red Sox this season and the Cubs and Nationals next), it is a lot to ask. Baseball players are creatures of habits and routines. To take them out of their natural rhythm is not ideal.
The other problem for me is that the games will be played on artificial turf. And since the turf cannot be nailed down (to not hurt the soccer field), there is a greater risk of injury. The sun field looks difficult and the dimensions are sort of cartoonish. A short center field and about ten acres of foul grounds really do not represent MLB standards.
I am consistent at least. I hate when teams start the season in Japan and I hate a London Series plop in the middle of a season. And to continue the trifecta, I hate that World Baseball thing too that breaks up Spring Training and puts players at risk.
If you want to promote MLB and baseball, reboot the barnstorming days and take recently retired stars overseas to promote the sport. The risks are much greater than the rewards.
That is my two cents anyway...