The All-Star Game generates nearly as much chatter and analysis as American Idol, and deserves to be taken much less seriously. About 74.3 percent less seriously, if you look at the statistics.* American Idol actually has an impact on our everyday lives, insofar as we still hear that stupid "Jesus Take The Wheel" song once a fortnight. But since we can't live All-Star season vicariously through Simon Cowell...
COWELL: Alex, it was a great performance--
[Shot of teary-eyed DEREK JETER wearing "A-Rod A-RMY" T-shirt in crowd]
COWELL: --If I closed my eyes! You look like a Portuguese cabaret singer!
[Boos from the audience.]
COWELL: I'm just being honest.
...We did vote. Repeatedly. But come on, if it wasn't a popularity contest, they wouldn't let you vote twenty-five times per e-mail address plus however many ballots you can scavenge off the bleacher seats. So these, and only these, were our guiding principles:
1. We don't feel obligated to vote for people who are definitely going to win, even if they clearly deserve it. Call this the "Ralph Nader 2000, if you lived in Boston" factor.
2. We sometimes vote against people we dislike rather than for people we like. Call this the "Ralph Nader 2000, if you lived in Miami" factor.
3. We vote with our hearts first, the stats second, and then we just close our eyes and poke at the person whose name we recognize best.
Without further ado, because we're fresh out of ado, here is our 2007 AL ballot.
Probable Winner: David Ortiz
Most Deserving: Ortiz
We Voted For: Kevin Youkilis
You know why Papi hasn't hit up to his previous home run pace? Nobody is throwing him pitches! Pitchers be hatin'; Papi still be postin' a 1.027 OPS. During this season's insanely long bout of interleague play, he even made a nice pick or two at first (and we think it's stupid not having a DH slot, anyway; it's not like the All-Stars are about the Purity Of The Game Of Base-Ball). Of course, we knew Papi would coast to the All-Star Game on his Clooneyesque reserves of charm, so we wrote in the Greek God of Blogs. He's having as good a season as last year's MVP** and still finds time to play horsey with Manny Ramirez.
Probable Winner: Placido Polanco
Most Deserving: Polanco
We Voted For: Polanco and Dustin Pedroia
Everyone agrees that Polanco deserves the position, although taking a glance at B.J. Upton's numbers is rather confusing, but he plays for the nonexistent Tampa Bay Devil Rays*** so who cares? So each of us voted for Polanco some and Pedroia some, since Our Little Man Dusty is having a comparably impressive year (he's a lock to go All-State!).
Probable Winner: Derek Jeter
Most Deserving: Orlando Cabrera
We Voted For: Cabrera, and also everyone who is neither Jeter nor Julio Lugo
Cabrera is similar offensively and much better defensively (4 errors is better than 11, no?). And his biggest selling point? He's not Admiral Calm-Eyed Deke.**** He got the bulk of our votes, but we threw a couple each to Yuniesky Betancourt (Mariners love, plus he's got a hell of a life story), Carlos Guillen (fear), and Miguel Tejada (we pity the fool who tries to play actual baseball for the Orioles, we do, we pity the fool).
Probable Winner: Alex Rodriguez
Most Deserving: Rodriguez
We Voted For: Mike Lowell
Look, A-Rod is the best player in baseball right now, and we have no problem acknowledging that. We think sometimes the fans and media are unfair to him; his personal life should be his business and no one else's, and the fact that he hasn't won a World Series doesn't mean he isn't a stunning and committed ballplayer. That said, he's also whiny, annoying, and prone to the occasional bush-league move, and we can respect him all day long and still not punch a little hole next to his name.
While he may fade down the stretch, Iron Mike currently has excellent numbers.
Probable Winner: Ivan Rodriguez
Most Deserving: Jorge Posada
We Voted For: Jason Varitek
Who would've thought this would be the most competitive category? It defies logic. Posada's offensive pace is bound to taper off, but for the first half of 2007 there's hardly anyone hitting better in any position. Rodriguez is a hotshot offensively and defensively, catching one of the strongest rotations in baseball. There are underrated younger competitors: Victor Martinez has a filthy-dirty number of RBIS; Joe Mauer's batting .319 and hasn't let a ball get past him once this season.
Yeah. Hi. Did you look at the name of the blog?
If we were to try and justify it statistically, we would note that Varitek has a lower CERA and fewer successful stolen bases than either Posada or Pudge, but we aren't. We're voting with our hearts. And the hearts of Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon and Curt Schilling, and all those great big grown men who get starry-eyed when they talk about Captain Fenway. We don't expect him to win, don't even need him to win, but we voted for him with every one of our mumblety-mumble ballots.
Jason Varitek. Early and often.
Probable Winners: Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Ichiro Suzuki
Most Deserving: Guerrero, Suzuki, Magglio Ordonez
We Voted For: Suzuki, Ordonez, Nick Swisher
Manny doesn't wanna go to the All-Star game. Manny wants to throw a big three-day party instead, with girls dancing on the bar and Julian Tavarez smoking a bowl underneath it. Manny wants to grill some burgers--he has a grill, maybe you've heard about it--and invite all his teammates over, except maybe Curt Schilling 'cause he doesn't know how to get down, and play a lot of Outkast and maybe put the game on just to cheer for Papi and/or Youk.
Stop voting for him, people, it's just mean. And it's ridiculous that Ordonez, who is literally hitting better than anyone in the game, can't crack the top three here. Here's hoping for a groundswell.
We can't explain why we voted for Nick Swisher instead of Guerrero, except for some kind of impossibly powerful Moneyball hangover, a lingering fondness that began during last year's playoffs, and the fact that The The Angels Angels of Anaheim are among our least favorite teams (they hang out down there with the Yankees, Indians, and Braves; we're busy girls).
In conclusion, this is a bunch of hooey. We've handled it with the mindfulness it deserves.
Let's all go vote for the ESPYs!
*The statistics here are the same ones we used to plan our voting strategy; specifically, well, almost none. Wait until you see how astute we were with the NL.
**Justin Morneau is still a monster, though, and he's surely playing hard--he crashed into someone so hard at home plate that he started coughing up blood. Baseball is so much cooler than football.
***Seriously, you expect us to believe that there is a team called the Tampa Bay Devil Rays? Piffle. And I'm a big fan of the Schenectady Flying Dutchmen.
****TM Fire Joe Morgan.