, Corbin, KY

July 16, 2013

Are we watching the real All Stars?

Like It or Not, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — The most popular term over the past few weeks has probably been the term All Star.

Whether you’re talking about Little League All Stars or Major League All Stars, the subject has dominated a lot of sports conversations around the Tri-County as well as the country.

To me, an All Star should be the best player at his or her position in a particular sport, but that’s not always the case.

When you talk about Major League All Stars, the players involved are voted to the team by fans with the team’s respective manager having the final say as far as what players fill out the remainder of the roster.

Just like in any process that involves being selected, a lot of times politics play a huge part in which players are selected. Where the game is being played has a lot to do with which players get voted in because New York fans will most likely vote in large numbers to see one of their own in the mid-summer classic. The game has had a reputation of being boring, so it’s only natural to try and make it interesting by including fans that will draw a bigger crowd.

Sometimes the fact that a player may have played for the current manager in the past can help the cause of getting named to the team after the votes have been tallied and starters have been named.

There have been cases where a historically good player may not be having the best season, but is named to the squad as a way to say thanks or goodbye if they may be retiring.

Cal Ripken’s final season in 2001 comes to mind in this situation. Ripken had been an overwhelming favorite as far as the votes go, but he was slated to start at third base. New York’s Derek Jeter, who was to start at shortstop, made Ripken trade spots with him before the first pitch. With the move, Ripken was credited for starting at the position in which he had played a record 2,632 consecutive games over the course of 16 years (May 30, 1982 through Sept. 19, 1998).

When it comes to Little League All Stars, the selection process isn’t all that different from that of Major League Baseball and it too involves a lot of politics.

Having been a part of the Little League selection process I’ve seen firsthand how the teams are selected, but that doesn’t mean I agree with it.

I feel the same way I do about the big boys as far as selection, but for a couple of reasons, I’m not sure there’s an accurate way to figure out the best players at each position.

When it comes to statistics during a Little League season there’s really no way to keep an accurate stat line unless the league or team uses a product like GameChanger, which is something used by a lot of leagues locally.

The program allows leagues to score games electronically and it also stores the stats and history of every game if it’s used correctly. Personally, I love GameChanger and it has opened a door to stats that has otherwise been closed to reporters on the Little League and high school level. That’s another column for another day, so I’ll go on.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that too many times All Stars are chosen for the wrong reason.

Whether they’re chosen because they’ll draw a larger crowd or the fact that their parents hold a high profile job in the local town, it’s not always the right choice.

An All Star should be the best player at a respective position, case closed. Until that’s the case, like it or not, baseball fans are being fooled into thinking they’re watching the best players in the sport compete against each other.

Oh well, the annual celebrity softball game is usually more fun to watch than the MLB All-Star Game anyway.