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Mr. Casual Fan and Why MLB Needs to Rethink All-Star Game Fan Voting

There are a lot of casual baseball fans in America. Casual fans root for their hometown team and will even attend a couple games over the course of a season, but there is a good chance they won't be able to name more than three pitchers in the bullpen. They might not have a clue who the top prospects are down in Triple-A who may be the stars of tomorrow for their favorite team. Heck, they might not even be able to name the Triple-A affiliate for their favorite team. And you know what? That is absolutely fine. Why? People have lives. Jobs, spouses, children, etc. People are busy.

My Dad is a perfect example of Mr. Casual Fan. Picture him if you will. He is in his mid 50's, works hard everyday running his own business. Wakes up early and gets home late. He likes Bud Light (and doesn't get the "fancy craft beer thing") and gets his feathers ruffled when he hears a Katy Perry song (hell, so do I), and goes on a 20 minute rant of the good ol' music days. Every year, as the first Bengals game approaches, he'll make his way up to the store to buy a shirt and proudly support the Bengals. Well, only the last few years, since they are winning now. Are you getting my point yet? He knows Andy Dalton of course, but can't name an offensive lineman. Following a Geno Atkins sack this past year, he excitedly asked where "that guy" came from. "He's going to win rookie of the year! Now, THAT is what we were missing last year!" He had no idea Geno had been with the Bengals for multiple seasons and had established himself as one of the top DT's in the league. 

Mr. Casual fan loves to vote for the players on his team, but has no idea who Paul Goldschmidt is. Sports are mainly just a form of entertainment for most fans. A way to kill a few hours after work or on the weekend. I know more than a few people who refer to NFL games as "an excuse to day drink". Sweet. Pass me one. Pure entertainment for most people.

Again, that is OK. Really. Why? Because he will buy merchandise and go to a game or two a year and do his part to financially support the pro team he is a fan of. He is busy. He doesn't have time to watch every second of every game or read up on the stats of every player. I used to not get it, but now I do. I am a die-hard fan, but I am also 26 now, with a job, wife, and 1-year-old son running around. When I was 14, I knew every player and every stat about those players. I just simply don't have the time these days.

So, getting to my point. These players that we watch invest their entire lives to the game they play. From their childhood they eat, sleep and breathe the game. If you were a professional athlete, would you want something as important as an All-Star appearance left to be decided by Mr./Ms. Casual Fan? All-Star appearances are important to a players legacy. The more appearances, the better their chance of ending up in Cooperstown.

I will use the following example. Judging purely off of performance/numbers, you decide who is the better candidate for an All-Star appearance:

Player 1.) .278, 6 HR's, 39 RBI, .336 OBP

Player 2.) .284, 17 HR's, 45 RBI, .350 OBP

This should be obvious. I hope you selected player #2. Well, player #1 is David Wright and is actually second place in fan voting to start at Third Base in the NL (and was in first place until recently). Player #2 is Cincinnati Reds Third Basemen, Todd Frazier, and he is not even in the top-5 in fan voting. Now, I risk being called a homer for using this as my example, but Frazier is not the only one getting snubbed. See also: LaRoche, Rizzo, Gordon.

Now, David Wright is an exceptional player who has had an outstanding career so far, but in his off years, he benefits from the name he has built for himself and a huge market in New York. Frazier is still relatively unknown (although a fan-favorite in Cincy) and plays for a small-market team. I understand that fans want to see the most popular players in the game during the All-Star game, but is that fair to the players? I feel that the each year, the rosters should be made up from the most deserving players for that year. If David Wright is having an off year, I want to see the guy who's plastering the ball in the ASG, not the guy who is struggling. I don't care what his name is. For example, I voted Paul Goldschmidt for First Base in a town where Joey Votto Plays. Why? Goldschmidt deserves it more. Simple. His name might not be as big as Votto's (yet), but he is the most deserving. If we pick the most popular players every single year for the ASG, how do the talented young players make a name for themselves if we just keep picking the big name guys despite poor seasons?

My point is this: If I am a player who has spent my entire life devoted to baseball, do I really want Mr. or Ms. Casual fan having the power to pick who starts for each league? No. I want the other players, coaches, writers, etc picking. The ones who invest just as much time in the game as I do. Someone who truly understands the game. Until that time comes, go place a vote for the deserving players. And if I've sold you, place a vote for Todd Frazier.

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