With voting for the MLB All Star Game well underway, it's time for the baseballblogosphere to start touting their favorite players in an attempt to convince readers to use their online votes for good instead of evil. Don't bother wasting your time. Ichiro is going to be a starting outfielder for the AL no matter how many times you vote for Magglio Ordonez. But now that the massively popular Manny Ramirez has been smacked with a 50-game suspension, the question arises: should the tainted slugger still be eligible to start in the All Star Game?
Manny will still be serving his suspension when the voting results are announced but will have finished the fifty game forced vacation by the time Albert Pujols welcomes Derek Jeter to St. Louis in mid-July. Enter the Vote for Manny website into the baseballblogosphere. At first glance, it seems to be a way for a fan to support Manny and jab a stick into Herr Selig's eye, but once you read the fine print, it seems that the website exists as a form of social protest against the All Star format:
I do not want to see Manny in the All Star Game. Are we clear on this? I started the "Vote For Manny" site to illustrate the joke that the voting, the "this time it counts"/World Series home field advantage rule, the mandatory representation, the still-soft PED rules...has become. I want to see the best players selected, not the most popular.
Groan. Sometimes, folks want to see aging stars like Cal Ripken play in the All Star Game despite their fading stats. And with TV ratings fading quickly, the ad wizards who run baseball want to see Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter starting in the game no matter how great a season Joey Votto or Jason Bartlett are having. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Selig himself wanted Manny to play in the game. Talk about a human interest story!
A couple days later, some Dodgers fan decided that the Vote for Manny crusade was despicable and started his own hype site for Manny's replacement, Vote for Pierre:
This is not a joke. If someone can make a Vote for Manny website, urging people to vote for a cheater, then this is the anti-Vote for Manny website.
Juan Pierre is one of the hardest working players in baseball. He kept his mouth shut when the Dodgers traded for Manny Roidmirez, and now that he got his starting job back, he has been lights out. Juan is deserving of being in the All-Star Game, not Manny.
Sure, Juan Pierre is enjoying a great 20-game streak, but that's all it is, a spurt of offense from a fourth outfielder who has struggled for a few years. Juan Pierre is probably a great person and a hard worker but he's no star. To tout him as an All Star is merely a spurious reaction to Manny's steroid suspension. It's soapboxing and preening and a downright silly way to deal with the complicated world of PEDs. I might vote for Manny, I might not, but his little steroid suspension won't be a factor that leads to my decision. The Vote for Pierre page actually makes the Vote for Manny page look like a well-thought-out exercise in social protest.
Besides, both sites are hurting the "Vote for School Lunch" campaign. School Lunch is OPSing over 1.000 and VORPing over 40!