The other day someone I know pointed out that not so long ago, an All-Star voter's work was easy. He would punch his or her ballot for the most famous player at each position and be done with it. Today, though, perhaps because fantasy baseball is so popular and makes fans so much more aware of which players are having good years, people seem to take the whole thing more seriously and put some effort into actually voting for the "right" players. And this is, indeed, a shame.
In its modern form, the All-Star Game is mainly a way for Major League Baseball to show off its fancy new ballparks. It also gives the sport a chance to show off the most irregular democratic procedures outside of Cook County, Ill., or Iran, involving as they do openly encouraged ballot stuffing; late announcements of expanded rosters; Byzantine selection processes involving fans, managers and the commissioner's offices; late rounds of fan voting; etc.
The game itself is lost in all this silliness, and rightly so. In an age of interleague play, cable highlight shows and games being broadcast onto telephones, there's no special appeal to being able to see a lot of good players on the field at one time. This is what makes the earnest voting of fans who scrupulously try to get their ballots right so inexplicable. At last count,
Surely the best All-Star ballot is the one filled out by a 7-year-old who carefully votes for every Kansas City Royal, and surely the second-best is the one filled out by the drunk who carefully votes for the player at each position who has the worst hair. Personally my voting technique doesn't meet these standards, but I do vote simply for the player I'd most like to watch at each position for whatever reason. Because I like to watch good players, I usually end up with a fairly vanilla ballot, and that's true this year. But I can say in good conscience that I paid no attention whatsoever to how deserving the players were when voting, and thus did my part to fight against America's ever-decreasing standards.
With that explanation, here is my 2009 All-Star ballot, as actually filled out and submitted at Chicago's Sox Park: