Let’s be honest: the 2017 MLB season kind of blows so far. While it is enjoyable to watch our rivals in America’s Hat flail and for Giants fans to be discovering that for every even year there is also an odd year, schadenfreude isn’t as satisfying as people actually playing good baseball, which there isn’t a lot of right now. ZiPS’ mean projected standings shows exactly one competitive division race. Meanwhile, the Mets are enacting Act V of Hamlet, only with more bodies. We can’t even enjoy the Cardinals being bad anymore, as they’ve clawed their way back to being merely mediocre. The Angels and their irradiated manager, despite a medical staff that apparently treats their pitchers with leeches and poultices to draw out black bile, are good. The Mariners, if this injury luck continues, are probably bad. Things suck, and now MLB wants us to vote for the All Star Game, one month into this season, a draft of which George R.R. Martin rejected as “too brutal.”
The All-Star Game is stupid. Every year I promise myself I won’t get mad about it, and every year I wind up getting mad about it anyway. The one gift of this mattress-lying-on-the-side-of-a-highway start to the season is that this year, I can’t possibly get mad about the All-Star Game, because I’ve already decided I don’t care at all. What a relief! In previous years, I would pretend not to care, only to be drawn in by appeals from the Mariners social media team (and also the lure of winning some sweet sweet prize packs) and from the players themselves. What sucks is that even though the All-Star Game is a puffed-up popularity contest more than it’s any true measure of the best players in baseball, it clearly matters to the players. As it should! If there was a All-Out-of-Shape-Baseball-Bloggers Game, I would want very much to be recognized as one of the preeminent figures, the starting third loafperson. Everyone likes to be told they’re doing a good job. Being selected to the All-Star Game is like getting that extra sticker on the top of your math test in third grade when you really crushed those multiplication tables. You weren’t just good: you were sticker good.
But this year I will close my eyes to Nelson Cruz’s puppy-dog eyebrows and acknowledge that the All-Star Game is, in truth, dumb. It’s absurd that something which has all the voting integrity of a middle school student council election has actual baseball consequences. It’s also annoying that it’s excessively branded (and especially annoying to people who follow minor-league baseball closely, who are already inundated with “NOW THAT’S esurance #CallUpWorthy” tweets every time a prospect is called to the majors), and I can’t help but think that the sponsorship of the ASG is linked to the decision to have it “mean something.” A successful ASG means a successful partnership and esurance lanyards around every neck. Hence, MLB has no initiative to ensure the current best players in the game get in; only the biggest crowd draws. [Insert annual Kyle Seager rant here.] Behold the power of the All-Star Game: I’ve somehow made myself mad about it just typing this. But I promised solutions!
This year, in honor of a dumb pageant representing a dumb start to the season, I am going to vote the dumbest All-Star ballot I can think of. I invite you to join me!
First Base, AL: Mark Canha - Mark Canha lost his roster spot to Jaff Decker. That’s maybe the dumbest sentence I’ve ever typed.
First Base, NL: Tommy Joseph. Tommy Joseph’s body is 25, but his face voted for Eisenhower. He batted .179 in April, which is two points worse than Danny Valencia.
Second Base, AL: Cliff Pennington. Cliff Pennington’s full name is Clifton Randolph Pennington, which is a name straight out of a Gossip Girl fanfiction. Cliff Pennington is also the only position player to ever pitch in a postseason game, which makes him king of this list.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jurickson Profar. Not because he is dumb, but because the Texas has handled his development in the dumbest way possible. I hope he goes to the All-Star Game and defects from the Rangers.
Second Base, NL: Kolten Wong, just to stick it to the Cardinals.
Shortstop, AL: Matt Duffy. You think the dumb part of this is that Matt Duffy hasn’t played in a game yet this year. But no: it’s Matt Duffy, AL shortstop.
Shortstop, NL: Chase d’Arnaud. Not sure what the bigger slight is: being DFA’d by the Braves, or the fact that it happened a week ago—long enough for the Red Sox to claim him and for him to switch leagues—and at the time of this writing, the All-Star Ballot still hasn’t been updated. More like Chase d’Ignored.
Third base, AL: Pablo Sandoval. “The Red Sox don't have a timeframe for Sandoval's eventual return and will remain without one until he increases his level of activity.” Vote Panda for that sentence alone.
Third base, NL: Nick Franklin and his elbow spiderweb tattoo. Also “Nick Franklin drove for Uber” is the new “Mat Latos has a cat named Cat Latos.”
*Probably the stupidest thing here is that Jose Reyes is listed as a third baseman. Remember the WBC, when Reyes was somehow a better shortstop than Jean Segura?
Catcher, AL: James McCann. Per Statcorner, the worst catchers in the AL at stealing strikes are Salvador Perez, Jonathan Lucroy, and James McCann. McCann’s batting average is currently twenty points lower than Mike Zunino’s, but because he’s popped a few home runs, he’s worth .2 bWAR, while Mike has been worth -.3. Please hit just one home run, Mike. Just one.
Catcher, NL: Christian Bethancourt. Sure, he’s a pitcher now, because baseball is dumb and robbed us of the opportunity to have our own Shohei Otani, but you can still honor the Padres’ commitment to
tanking their creative vision by voting Bethancourt in as a position player. Seriously, his name is on the ballot. You can vote for him at every position if you like, and you should.
Outfield: Important! This is our only chance to make Isabelle’s ALL-CUBAN OUTFIELD dream a reality, so let’s do it for both sides: For the AL, Guillermo Heredia, Jorge Soler, and Leonys Martín, who is delightfully still on the ballot so hurry and vote for him; and for the NL, Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Céspedes, and Yasmany Tomás. Bats will be flipped to Jupiter. It will be fantastic.
Remember: Vote early. Vote often. Vote dumb.