I love baseball. Any sort of baseball, even the legendary excesses of the Babe, the self-defeating steroidal sub-culture, the feckless follies of the St. Louis Browns and the pathetic quality of some umpires these days.
I will pull over on my way to the dentist to watch an inning of little league ball, which can take an hour to complete.
I love that generations of Latin American shortstops have made circus acrobats weep with envy.
I brake for kids chasing beat up baseballs that some talented teenager has hit over the fence into the street.
My idea of a perfect day is to watch a little league batter turn a bunt into an inside-the-park home run, while the nine-year-old outfielders gaze at their navels, wondering whether they’ll ever be able to grow facial hair like Dan Uggla.
All this is prologue to my angst and ire over the clown convention that was the All-Star Game voting process this year.
For non-fans, here’s the situation in brief:
Fans could vote online and elsewhere on players they believe should be chosen for the annual All-Star game. You could vote 25 times.
Then the managers for each league got to choose some players, followed by a week in which the ballpark cotton candy vendors got to pick an outfielder and a backup catcher.
Before the voting was over this year, people could tweet their sunglasses off, pounding out more votes for their favorite player to fill the final spot or two on the rosters.
By this time, the overall atmosphere surrounding the All-Star selection is hysterical. Not funny-hysterical, crazy-hysterical.
One evening watching the Braves on TV, I saw first baseman Freddie Freeman in the dugout, holding up a hand-painted cardboard sign to the camera, begging viewers to vote him into the last remaining spot on the All-Star roster of the National League team. Begging. Pleading, but with the slightest “Oh gosh” grin.
The sign read, “Hey ‘Merica! VOTE Freeman 4 ASG.”
Sure, he was smiling, having fun with it. Fellow players joined in. Maybe I’m a prig about such things, but a ball player as excellent as Mr. Freeman should never come off like a zany fan in the stands, holding up signs for the folks back home to see and cluck about.
What if this All-Star quality first baseman should sprain a pinkie while waving his plea?
I write this before the All-Star game was played. Freddie Freeman made the team. He responded in the next Braves game by driving in four runs and launching a couple of his famous ballerina splits to foil batters heading for first.
Apparently the homemade, “Hey buddy can you spare a dime” sort of sign, worked. If I had known that, I’d have a homemade “Go Braves” sign in my living room as I watch the game.
The sign also would say,” Texting is illegal in those expensive box seats behind home plate. We can see you! STOP IT!”
So let’s not turn the All-Star game into a sort of “Price is Right” media game show. Next year, will some almost-All-Star pleaders roll out the Rockettes with sequins on their cardboard signs reading, “Will kick even higher if Player X makes the team?”
Freeman is an outstanding player who deserved All-Star status. But would Stan Musial or Lou Gehrig have begged for votes?
This nonsense is not the players’ fault. They don’t make the All-Star game rules.
Maybe it’s my fault. I only voted for Freeman 25 times, but at least I was wearing the T-shirt of my grandson’s East Cherokee Owls little league team, future All-Stars maybe?