(Image: Morry Gash/Associated Press)
As of this writing, Troy Tulowitzki has a commanding lead in All-Star Game voting at NL shortstop. Since Tulo is on the disabled list, it appears likely the starting job will go to the second-place candidate, San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford. Brewers shortstop Jean Segura is a relatively close third, so it’s conceivable (albeit unlikely) he could have a huge voting surge this week, and find himself starting his first All-Star Game.
If Segura were to get in, it would require a great deal of ballot box stuffing by Brewers fans – which isn’t as unethical as it might have been in past years. MLB allows fans to vote 25 times per email address, and up to 35 times if they have an MLB.com account. Not only is stuffing ethical, it’s plainly encouraged.
So what to make of the fact that some fanbases are better than others at stuffing? A few weeks ago, SI baseball writer Cliff Corcoran pointed out that St. Louis, Texas, Baltimore, and Atlanta have been effective at getting out the vote. In particular, San Francisco fans have out-stuffed everyone else with impressive results:
Molina should be closer to Posey, whom he trails by nearly 300,000 votes…Sandoval should not be leading Wright by 200,000 votes (heck, he shouldn’t even be trailing him by 200,000 votes), and not that it matters with Tulowitzki the clear starter at the position, but Brandon Crawford should not be ahead of Jean Segura in the shortstop voting.
Last year, San Francisco fans were also able to boost their players higher in the voting than many others thought was appropriate. When asked about it at the time, Commissioner Bud Selig said it was “part of the process.”
The ethics of stuffing are certainly different than they used to be. In 1957, Cincinnati fans stuffed so well, the entire starting All-Star team – except for first baseman Stan Musial – were Reds. Commissioner Ford Frick responded by disallowing two Reds players, appointing Willie Mays and Hank Aaron in their places (and fans wouldn’t be allowed to vote for All-Star starters again until 1970). It’s not hard to imagine that Selig would do the same thing – i.e., substitute some players – if eight Giants were voted to start.
If San Francisco fans did stuff their way to an all-Giants All-Star team, it’s unthinkable that MLB would go along with it. But wouldn’t they have to? What would be the point of fan voting otherwise?
MLB has clearly come a long way in its thinking on stuffing since 1957, but it beggars belief that the league would allow a team of Giants to start the All-Star Game – even if they were voted in by the rules currently in place. Given the stuffing prowess of Giants fans the last couple of years, this hypothetical scenario requires clarification. It might not be thrilling to watch an All-Star Game started by one team, but it would be a shame if the rules were changed to penalize some fans for out-stuffing the rest of us.