Hey, baseball fans, there is an unintended consequence of All-Star ballot-stuffing
What if it costs your favorite team home-field advantage in the World Series?
We are less than a week away from the day that Major League Baseball reveals most of the All-Star teams -- starters, reserves and the final vote guys. Every year there are complaints, notably when it comes to the starters and the biggest snubs. The fan vote is the source of much contention, notably the ballot stuffing we saw for Royals players last year and Cubs players this year.
And while I 100 percent understand fans having every right to be excited about their favorite team being awesome -- this Cubs team is on pace to win 106 games and already has a 10-game lead in the NL Central -- I just wonder if the fans voting for every single Cubs player have considered the possible, down-the-road consequences.
Remember, the All-Star Game determines home-field advantage in the World Series. The Cubs might not make it, obviously (it's hilarious how many people build up the Straw Man that We The Media have already crowned them champs when not one single person has said as much), but they also might. They have every ingredient needed to get there and have the best record in baseball.
So ... what if?
What if Addison Russell comes up in a big spot in the second inning of the All-Star Game and strikes out, leaving the bases loaded and the National League ends up losing by one. Then the Cubs lose in Game 7 of the World Series on the road against a team that is significantly better at home (among AL contenders, the Orioles and Royals particularly have huge splits)?
I guess at that point I'd ask these fans if the "I really want to see an all-Cubs infield start the All-Star Game!" sentiment was worth it. Surely the answer would be no.
Now, let's be clear about several things:
1. Having the All-Star Game determine home-field advantage is very stupid. It's also a reality.
2. People really need to stop paying attention to down-ballot stuff. It doesn't matter if Jason Heyward is fourth or 24th. He's not going to be an All-Star.
3. Every Cubs player in a starting position right now is justifiable other than Russell (just as the two or three Royals players will be as well, by the way -- so lay off K.C.). You can argue against Anthony Rizzo (probably with Paul Goldschmidt), Ben Zobrist (Daniel Murphy), Kris Bryant (Nolan Arenado) and Dexter Fowler (Marcell Ozuna or Gregory Polanco), but they would all be headed to the All-Star Game anyway and aren't egregious selections at all. To say otherwise is what would actually be egregious.
4. So many things have to happen between the All-Star Game and the World Series that this conversation is likely rendered moot at some point.
5. I'm not picking on Russell or Cubs fans, specifically. Stuff like this happens every season. This example is simply my current vehicle to illustrate the over-arching point of ballot-stuffing possibly having unintended consequences.
Still, what if?
When viewed through the lens of what is best for a team, shouldn't fans of teams with World Series aspirations be trying to vote in the best possible All-Star team, in hopes that it helps push the league of their favorite team to the Midsummer Classic victory?
You can't possibly tell me Addison Russell is a better player right now than Dodgers rookie Corey Seager at NL shortstop. A brief look ...
Russell: .236/.331/.388, 10 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 30 R, 2 SB
Seager: .298/.356/.528, 19 2B, 1 3B, 16 HR, 38 RBI, 50 R, 1 SB
Russell is a very good defender and has come up with several clutch hits this season. The same can be said for Seager, though, and he dwarfs Russell offensively. The Cubs are the best team in baseball, yes, but they already have -- in all likelihood -- four starters. They don't need five.
Growing up, I always through the way to be the best possible baseball fan was to vote for the most deserving players. I never understood only voting for players on your favorite team. It just felt wrong. I felt like it made me a bad fan. I now understand the opposition. I get "sticking up for my guys" while other people won't. That's fine, but I'm still allowed to disagree with it here. I do. I think being the best possible fan here would be to vote in the best possible players in hopes it lands your league home-field advantage in the World Series.
This is why I'm urging people in All-Star voting to consider the worst-case scenario of homerism in voting. There are still a few days left to stuff the box in favor of Seager (or any other players you wish). Go vote as many times as is permitted if you want. Vote for whatever players you want, too. It's your right as a fan.
But let's be serious, Cubs fans: In the All-Star Game in an early big spot, you'd much rather see Corey Seager at the plate than Addison Russell. Home-field advantage in the Cubs' first World Series appearance since 1945 could well hang in the balance.
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