All-Star Ballot Stuffing Not New and Cannot Be Tolerated

Kansas City Royals’ fans have made a mockery of this year’s major league baseball All-Star team voting, and Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred needs to look to the past and act for now and for the future. Fans may think this is something unusual, but it is not a unique occurrence, and when it happened in the past, swift action by then Commissioner Ford Frick helped protect not just the integrity of the game, but also served to provide deserving players their spots in the All-Star game.

Traditionally, the fans voted for All-Star team rosters, and the system in place back then worked well, until 1957, when fans of the Cincinnati Reds (actually, then the Cincinnati Redlegs, but that is a whole other story*), through a scheme engineered by the Cincinnati Enquirer, cast over one-half of the total ballots, and managed to elect seven of their
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players to the National League starting lineup. Only the guy who was clearly the NL’s greatest player of the day, the Cardinals Stan Musial, broke through the Red”leg” Barrier and made the team. The Enquirer not only prepared pre-printed ballots with votes already cast for Cincinnati players, but they distributed them with their newspapers. Supposedly local bars even refused to serve drinks until patrons had filled out ballots.

When all this become know, Commissioner Frick, not known for being one of the game’s greatest administrators, stepped up, and in what was clearly one of his finest moments over his 15 years on the job, did two things:

  1. He appointed Willie Mays and Hank Aaron as starting outfielders on the team, replacing the Redlegs’ Wally Post and Gus Bell, and
  2. He ended fan voting – For the next 12 years, until the 1970 season, players, managers and coaches picked the entire All-Star squads.

When voting was returned to the fans for the 1970 season, efforts were made to have fair voting. The new procedures included the even distribution of 26 million ballots to 75,000 retail outlets and 150 minor and major league stadiums. In addition, a panel was created to review fan voting to ensure no repeat of 1957 would occur.

However, gradually the system began being manipulated, and millions more ballots were eventually being distributed here, there, and everywhere. I remember going to Dodgers’ Stadium in the 1990s and into the early 2000s, I believe, when ushers would almost force piles of ballots into the hands of fans, imploring us all to vote, over and over again, for DODGERS.

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Eventually, that system was replaced by the current online system, with the stupid, idiotic element of still allowing fans to vote over and over again. THAT has GOT to change, and the Commissioner, who must act, must act on that issue.

First and foremost, Commissioner Manfred
must step in and do as Commissioner Frick did almost 60 years ago – he has to remove such undeserving Royals’ players, voted onto the American League All-Star team, as first baseman Eric Hosmer, second baseman Omar Infante, outfielder Alex Gordon, and designated hitter Kendrys Morales, from the team that now features EIGHT Kansas City players. The obvious replacements for those four are Miguel Cabrera, Jose Altuve, Adam Jones and Nelson Cruz. They all deserve to be on the team. Some of those listed Royals are having solid seasons, such as Hosmer and Morales, and could remain on the roster, but others, Infante in particular, have no business on an All-Star roster, period.

Second, the voting procedure has to be changed, and the single, most vital change has to be to limit fans to casting ONE single ballot apiece.

To not do these things makes baseball’s All-Star game, the sporting world’s best All-Star game, a joke, and Major League Baseball a laughingstock.

Come on, Mr. Commissioner, DO YOUR JOB!

*During the cold war of the 1950s, and the paranoia that overtook the country, idiots in charge of million dollar enterprises believed fans would think that a team called the “Reds” was pro-communist, and the owners of the Cincinnati franchise actually changed the team’s name from “Reds” to “Redlegs”. Eventually it was changed back.

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