Brian Dozier might make it to the All-Star Game. He’s already achieved something rarer. He got Brett Favre to commit.
The last time someone in Minnesota wanted Favre to make a decision, they had to send letters, texts, e-mails, edible arrangements, balloon animals, black helicopters and emissaries to Hattiesburg, Miss., to coax him into action.
All Dozier had to do was become one of the best second basemen in baseball.
There was Favre’s unshaven face on the Target Field scoreboard earlier this week, urging fans to vote for Dozier in the Final Five online election. Favre’s appearance — he even seemed to have accidentally walked face-first into a razor within the past month — culminated an endearing week for Dozier.
He’s hit two key home runs. He’s seen every teammate don a T-shirt supporting his candidacy. He’s heard Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor praise him not only as a fine player but a fine human committed to good works.
Enough people have voted for him online that there is a theoretical chance he could pass Mike Moustakas and the Royals’ double-secret stealth voting machine to capture the last spot on the American League roster.
It’s heady stuff for Dozier. The only catch is that none of it should be happening.
Major League Baseball wanted to engage young fans and generate web hits, so it encouraged serial online voting.
Former commissioner Bud Selig wanted to inject meaning into a game so baseball’s biggest stars wouldn’t leave for the airport in the fourth inning, so he determined that the winning league in the All-Star Game would have home-field advantage in the World Series.
The motivation behind each of those ideas is independently logical. Together they are damaging the only All-Star Game worth a wad of bubble gum.
The current election system, which favors popularity, computer hacking, relentless online voting and apparently an ancient form of voodoo, is a riddle wrapped in an enigma deep-fried in a large vat of illogic.
“It’s very odd,” Dozier said Thursday. “I’m sure they’ll get together soon and figure out the best way to do this.”
Dozier will find out today whether he’ll make the All-Star team. He sounds neither optimistic nor impressed with the current mechanism.
“First off, it is that way, so I think they’re doing a really good job of buying into the system,” Dozier said of the fans.
“Personally, it shouldn’t be that way. Whoever’s deserving should go.”
Instead, the teams are determined by, as Dozier said, “how many times you can text in a minute. … If there’s a fan base coming out and voting so many times it’s absurd, that says a lot about their fan base.”
It’s always easier to identify problems than to solve them. Here’s an attempt to do both. Baseball’s next commissioner, Rob Manfred, should …
• Stop pretending an exhibition game should affect championship games. Selig’s mandate actually worked — players have become much more serious and diligent about the game — but there are other ways to achieve this effect. Like instituting a system of fines or suspensions for any player who leaves an All-Star Game.
• Go with the parallel universe approach to fan voting. Let fans vote as many times as they want, in as many ways that they want, by hacking into as many networks as they like. Post the results. Then ignore them, and have general managers pick the rosters.
GMs stay informed about big-league rosters. They would pick the best possible teams.
• Stop rewarding flash-in-the-pan players. True All-Stars offer a body of work of at least a calendar year.
The AL second base position has proved that the current system is silly. Fans almost elected Omar Infante, the definition of a non-All-Star, to the starting lineup. They did elect Jose Altuve over two more deserving players — Jason Kipnis and Dozier. And the requirement to take a player from every roster meant that a utility player, Brock Holt, made it.
By trying to involve fans and inject meaning into the All-Star Game, baseball has made itself look silly. It’s past time for the pastime to fix this.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be heard at MalePatternPodcasts.com. On