The Many Flaws of All-Star Game Fan-Voting
The MLB All-Star Game Shows How to Snub a Whole Country
The baseball season has reached its midpoint—and with it comes the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Game, pitting the best of the National League against the best of the American League. As it is now tradition, fans vote for their favourite players for each position, but this year the Toronto Blue Jays came out as the biggest losers.
In the first round of fan-voting, the Blue Jays, Canada’s sole professional baseball team since the fall of the Montreal Expos in 2004, dominated the voting with five players: first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., shortstop Bo Bichette, third baseman Matt Chapman, outfielder Kevin Keirmaier and second baseman Whit Merrifield. However, the discontent with the fan-voting was loud on social media.
“We gotta limit Canadian votes,” said one fan in the comments of an MLB Instagram post on the All-Star Game roster. “Blue Jays fans ruin baseball,” expressed another. “Toronto fans shouldn’t be allowed to vote,” stated one more, completing the trifecta of Canada-bashing.
The reason for the outrage is due to a belief that it’s unfair that a single team has a whole country voting for them. However, let’s not forget that Canada’s population is around 12 per cent that of the U.S. and that our national pastime is hockey, not baseball.
Right off the bat, not all 40 million Canadian residents are Blue Jays fans, and out of all Blue Jays fans, much fewer are willing to vote five times a day for their team’s players.
What may explain the amount of votes for Blue Jays players is that these players are well-known by all baseball fans, regardless of whether they’re American or Canadian. For instance, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s name is very recognizable on a ballot due to his record of offensive prowess, demonstrated by a .282 career batting average and a 2021 Silver Slugger Award (and Home Run Derby Champion as of July 10th).
Indeed, due to fan-voting, the All-Star Game tends to resemble a popularity contest, and this year is no exception. However, it doesn’t give reason to advocate for banning Canadian votes.
Due to a blend of factors like the Canadian fanbase, the recognizable names of the Blue Jays and the fact that most of them have been having decent seasons, most Blue Jays passed the first round of voting. However, the disdain towards the Canada-based players was evident during the second round of fan-voting, which pitted Canadian fans against American fans. All five Blue Jays ended up being snubbed from the All-Star Game.
Granted, not all five Blue Jays deserved a spot on the starting roster. Texas Rangers’ second baseman Marcus Semien and Tampa Bay Rays’ first baseman Yandy Diaz were absolutely entitled to their spot, both of them being well-rounded players and machines on both the offensive and defensive ends. However, if there’s one hill I will die on, it’s that Bichette wholly deserved to start as the American League shortstop.
This year should’ve been Bichette’s first All-Star appearance. In the entire MLB, he ranks fourth in batting average, second in hits and is an exceptional infielder. It’s unfortunate to think that, due to a mass of American baseball fans who didn’t want to see a Blue Jay on the field during the All-Star Game, Bichette may have missed out.
Then again, the All-Star Game, at its core, is fan-voted, and has been since 1970. For more than 40 years, fan-voting has received criticism for making the All-Star Game a popularity contest and because fans ended up voting all their team’s players in.
But, what is the purpose of the All-Star Game anyway? While it’s a once-a-season chance to see the MLB’s biggest talents all at once, it’s also a chance for the players to wind down and relax in the middle of the season. It used to be a rare chance to see players from both leagues interact, but with expanded interleague play in 2023, it has lost that novelty.
The true purpose of the All-Star Game is that it gives the winning league home field advantage during the World Series Championship. In short, however, besides being a fun event, the All-Star game hardly matters and the stats aren’t accounted for. Calling to ban a fanbase’s votes or insulting a whole country over the All-Star Game is highly uncalled for.
In the end, you’d think that, for a country that constantly patronizes Canada for being “polite,” Americans would be a little nicer to Canadians, especially in the MLB All-Star Game, which has incredibly low-stakes. Also, truth be told, baseball needs Canada, or else they couldn’t name it the “World Series,” eh?