Last week the renowned political wonk Deion Sanders proposed an end to democracy as we know it. He suggested that voting for baseball's All-Star Game, which will be played in Cleveland on Tuesday, be taken from the fans, who, he contends, ire biased, and given to the more objective managers and players, like the voting for the NFL's Pro Bowl game. To test Sanders's theory, we asked the 28 major league skippers to choose the starting position players in their respective leagues. They differed from the fans in only four instances (see below). Our picks for the midsummer classic, however, differ greatly from those of both fans and managers. One thing we do agree on is that Sanders doesn't get outvotes. Here are the selections.
Fans/managers: Ivan Rodriguez, Rangers.
SI: Sandy Alomar Jr., Indians. At week's end he was second in the league in batting (.372), was on a 26-game hitting streak and had been Cleveland's most consistent player throughout the season.
Fans/managers: Tino Martinez, Yankees.
SI: Martinez. He has carried New York this season, hitting .308 with 28 home runs and 76 RBIs. He won our vote in a tight race with Mark McGwire of the A's and Frank Thomas of the White Sox.
Fans/managers: Roberto Alomar, Orioles.
SI: Joey Cora, Mariners. Through Sunday he was hitting .330 with a career-high seven homers. He's the leadoff man Seattle has long sought.
Fans/managers: Alex Rodriguez, Mariners.
SI: Jay Bell, Royals. He had 13 home runs and led Kansas City in RBIs (55) at week's end. Where would the Royals, who were the fourth-worst-hitting team in the league but still in the hunt in the Central Division, be without him?
Fans/managers: Cat Ripken Jr., Orioles.
SI: Ripken. He had good numbers (.288, 10 homers, 48 RBIs through Sunday), and his defense is improved since he moved over from shortstop this season. The best candidate at the league's weakest position.
Fans: Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners; David Justice, Indians; Brady Anderson, Orioles.
Managers: Griffey; Justice; Albert Belle, White Sox.
SI: Griffey, Justice, Belle. With 29 homers through Sunday, Griffey was on pace to threaten Roger Maris's single-season record. Justice, who played only 40 games last season for the Braves because of a shoulder injury, was ripping American League pitching (.335, 17 homers, 47 RBIs). After a slow start Belle hit .324 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in June.
Fans/managers: Edgar Martinez, Mariners.
SI: Martinez. Having hit .333 through Sunday, he was the class of the field that doesn't field.