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Friez: Let’s let All-Stars be All-Stars

Micah Friez

Over the past several days, I’ve been wearing out my computer mouse by clicking and clicking and clicking.

As a Seattle Mariners fan, I’ve felt a duty to vote for M’s shortstop Jean Segura in the MLB All-Star Final Vote, which gives All-Star snubs one final chance to make the Midsummer Classic roster. But why is he there to begin with?

Segura is batting .329 on the season, fourth best in baseball. He’s second in the Majors in hits with 116, and his 62 runs have him 10th. Though I’ll admit I have a Mariners bias, I don’t believe that extends to here. His numbers prove it: Jean Segura is an All-Star.

Unfortunately, the votes added up otherwise. But this isn’t just a Jean Segura problem -- it’s a voting problem.

While commissioners covet at any opportunity to engage with fans, I think it’s overdue to nix the fans’ say in All-Star Game rosters. Let a panel of experts choose the best and most deserving players without threat of a biased popularity contest.

No, the fan voting doesn’t account for 100 percent of the say, but we’ll always have more than worthy candidates bumped out when we opt instead for the sexy “Bryce Harper” pick and his current .215 batting average. He was voted a National League starter this year, by the way.

The WNBA is also in the midst of All-Star voting, where there’s even more room for fan error. At the first ballot update on July 5, Minnesota’s Maya Moore led all vote-getters through 15 days with a modest 25,496 votes. (And even she isn’t having a season like Breanna Stewart or A’ja Wilson.) But only 12 hoopers had reached the 10,000-vote plateau.

In contrast, Houston’s Jose Altuve led MLB All-Star voting with a whopping 4,849,630 votes. From June 1 to July 5, he averaged 5,773 votes per minute and would rank 23rd in WNBA voting within 60 seconds.

Of course, the WNBA doesn’t have the exposure or the audience that the MLB has. But because of that, each individual vote matters exponentially more in the WNBA and each “popularity” vote leaves more chance for an error that can so easily be avoided.

Fans are biased and loyal -- it’s part of what makes sports so great. But it’s also why they don’t have a say in other awards like Gold Glove or MVP honors. Experts make their selections based off real numbers and real performance, not the name associated with them.

Sure, they get it wrong sometimes, too, but I’d take my chances with them before I would with a mob of Yankee fans.

When the MLB All-Star Game takes place on July 17, we’ll see some of the best athletes in the world competing alongside and against one another. Same goes for the WNBA All-Star Game on July 28. But those left on the outside will be watching from their couches, too.

All-Star Games are meant for good fun. And they are. But let’s get it right while we’re at it.

Micah Friez

Micah Friez covers Bemidji State basketball and BSU for the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Beaver basketball updates.

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