Fans turned the All-Star Game into the Some-Star Game
The people have spoken. And what they said made no sense.
In selecting players for this week's All-Star Game, they decided that the A's Mark McGwire (batting .201 at the break) was the best first baseman in the American League, better than the Tigers' Cecil Fielder, who led the league in RBIs (65) and was tied with the A's Jose Canseco for the league lead in homers (21). Their choice for American League catcher was injury-riddled Sandy Alomar Jr. of the Indians, who had no homers, four RBIs and a .241 average. Almost any other American League catcher would have been preferable. "Even Joel Skinner deserved to go more than I did," said Alomar, referring to his backup on the Indians.
The National League voting was similarly disappointing, what with the election of Reds third baseman Chris Sabo (.269), Padres catcher Benito Santiago (.248) and Darryl Strawberry (.229) of the Dodgers, the leading vote-getter among outfielders. In their stead could have been Braves third baseman Terry Pendleton (.324), Astro catcher Craig Biggio (.315) and 1991 National League MVP Barry Bonds of the Pirates, who had 51 RBIs and 21 stolen bases at the break.
What were the fans thinking? Did the Mariners' Ken Griffey Jr. (.280, nine homers) really deserve to start in the American League outfield over Canseco (21 homers, 63 RBIs), Joe Carter of the Blue Jays (.302, 19 homers, 59 RBIs) and Ruben Sierra of the Rangers (.325, 12 homers, 58 RBIs)? Hasn't anybody heard of the Royals' Danny Tartabull, third in the American League in both homers and RBIs, sixth in batting and 27th in the voting for outfielders?
The idea of having fans pick the All-Star teams is noble, provocative and—let us not forget—commercially profitable. But the time has come to change the system. Don't take the vote away from the fans. Not yet, anyway. Baseball should use the vox populi as a guide, not as the final say. Then, if there is an obvious mistake—like McGwire over Fielder—the commissioner, league president or team manager could make the adjustment.
You have to love the fans. You don't have to trust them, though.
Down on the Farm
The most successful stable in horse racing is in trouble
This weekend the movers and shakers in thoroughbred racing will gather in Lexington, Ky., for the annual select yearling sales at Keeneland, and it's a safe bet that the hottest topic on the cocktail-party circuit will be the stunning demise of Calumet Farm.
Almost everyone in racing feels a sort of proprietary interest in the 880-acre show-place just west of Lexington, because no farm has dominated the sport the way Calumet did in the 1940s and '50s.