Tuesday, January 13, 2009

While We're At It, Cancel EVERY All-Star Game!

Ah, the All-Star game. Remember being a kid and being excited that all these awesome players were playing together? Usually a player from your team would be playing there, too! Slam dunk contests, home run derbies, skills competitions... it was worth staying in on a Sunday to watch. Then you grow up and it turned into an excuse for taking a fantastic weekend nap with sports on TV. I'll TiVo Saturday's skills competition because the trick shots will be awesome and Versus might give me another goalie fucking up his hip.
Since the lockout, the NHL hasn't put out a single paper ballot for the All-Star Game and ever since, there's a big stink about people who don't deserve to go to the All-Star Game going. John Grigg is back to explain to us why fans shouldn't vote.

The NHL has reached the tipping point with All-Star Game fan voting. It needs to be scrapped. Now.

This wasn't a problem with the paper ballots because who brought a pen or pencil with them to a hockey game? Well they have the internet on computers now, and you can vote for anybody you want as many times as you want. This year you could also text the name of your team to some SMS short code and it counted as 1 vote for every player from your favorite team. So instead of throttling the input of fan votes down to say, a username/password combo and limiting each of those to a certain number of votes, we should abort the whole thing.
With the league insisting all 30 teams be represented, the game is already watered-down. With only six open spots available on each 21-man roster, allowing fans to determine the starters is akin to letting ice cubes melt in an already weak drink.

Letting fans feel like they have a say in something is SUCH a horrible thing. We shouldn't let fans go to the All-Star game. Instead, they should be forced to watch the game in large common areas with TVs that are tuned to Versus.
A few years back, the NHL got a glimpse of the future when a fan-based Internet campaign almost got journeyman defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick voted in. Conspiracy theorists suggest the NHL manipulated the results to ensure Fitzpatrick didn’t make the grade. The player himself was publicly uncomfortable with the possibility.

What Rory Fitzpatrick said he was uncomfortable with was that he was becoming a sideshow. From the CanWest News Service: ''It could have created more of a stir. I just tried to keep it fun and not stressful. If it got to be a distraction for the team or too much, I might have handled it differently.'' The NHL didn't do anything about the voting system because the Vote For Rory campaign made national sports headlines, and there's no way the league would discourage actions that make ESPN talk about the league.
This season the problem was taken to new heights. Eleven players - all either Canadiens or Penguins, including the yet-to-play-a-game-this-season Sergei Gonchar - surpassed Jaromir Jagr’s 2000 record of 1,020,736 fan votes. And just four teams - Anaheim (three players), Chicago (three), Montreal (four) and Pittsburgh (two) - are represented in the starting lineups for the Jan. 25 event.

My biggest problem this year is that four centers and two right wingers are starting. So left wingers can go fuck themselves. John Grigg cares not about positions, only about team representation.
Crosby led all vote-getters, topping 1.7 million votes. Malkin nearly matched him. The four Habs averaged about 1.4 million votes each. None of the other players with one million-plus votes were named reserves. The Hawks and Ducks starters averaged just 747,000 votes each, but took all the spots in the West.

How dare Montreal fans vote to see their players play in front of them when Montreal hosts the All-Star game this year! It's stupid that there's only four teams represented in the starting lineup. I would imagine that after the first shift, those players will be split up between other lines.
In the old days, chad-punching homers voting with their hearts rather than their heads were the problem. Now the NHL has to fend off computer-hacker homers to ensure roster legitimacy. Luckily, most of the starters are legitimate all-stars, but some are debateable [sic]; some laughable.

And only fans of these four teams were stuffing the ballot box? I'm pretty sure that fans of every team are encouraged by their team to stuff the ballot box. I would even go so far as to say that there are very few people that sat down in front of their computer and thought out the scenario of the All-Star game and only voted for the best players. I don't care who starts, because the actual best players in the league will be named to the team anyways. So I might as well vote for my team's best players.
Jonathan Toews will be good, maybe great. But he’s not yet Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa or Patrick Marleau. Scott Niedermayer is a Hall of Famer, but Duncan Keith and Brian Rafalski are more deserving this year.

Replace an Anaheim player with a Chicago player. That's a smart thing to say when you've completed bitching about how only 4 teams are represented in the starting lineup.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere has a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Stanley Cup on his resume. But he’s had better seasons when he wasn’t named an all-star and is being outperformed by others, especially rookie Steve Mason. Mason, at least, will be in the Young Stars Game, but it would have been fun to see the wunderkind in the skills competition and the big game.

It would have been a lot of fun to watch the kid get lit up by the Eastern Conference's finest.
With that in mind, I offer a solution: Have NHL players, coaches and GMs vote on who should represent the best hockey league in the world at its All-Star Game. Then open the starting-lineup voting to fans a couple of weeks prior to the game.

With that as a solution, what's the point of opening it up to the fans at all? To fix fan voting, limit the number of times they can vote. From what I remember, there was a 25 vote limit per person for the MLB All-Star Game. Make fans vote for every position instead of just voting for forwards. Don't give the fans a consolation prize just because the NHL screwed the system up to begin with.
Make the announcement an in-game event. Make a big deal of it. Keep the starters secret and give them prizes of some kind (Alex Ovechkin. Come on over! You’ve won your very own Segway. Sidney Crosby, you get your own apartment!). Make it fun. With some spontaneity and humor, it could be the NHL’s Golden Globe Awards.

A Segway joke? What is this? Do they even make Segways anymore? Give starters priz - - what the fuck just happened to the article? The All-Star Game is enough of a show as it is. If there's one thing the NHL doesn't need, it's a version of the Golden Globe Awards.
Because, really, who cares who starts the All-Star Game, as long as the best players are there? And since the 30-team rule already makes that difficult, the NHL shouldn’t let electronic ballot-stuffers make it impossible.

That's right, he just spent this whole article complaining about the starters and then at the end, he throws up his hands and says "Oh well!" Then why write this? Why not expand the roster to hold 63 players on each side, and the teams switch every period? The first period is determined by fan vote, the second period is determined by the coaches, players, and GMs. The third period - everybody on the ice at the same time! That'll fix your 30-team rule complaint.


Bengoodfella said...

What is with the sudden urge to take the fan voting out of every All Star Game? That is the entire freaking point of the game, a chance for the fans to see the best players all together. The fans vote because the game is for the fans. It is an exhibition game, who gives two shits who plays in the game?

The problem is that certain dumbasses use All Star Game appearances in baseball, basketball, and football to make a case for a player to enter the Hall of Fame. The media is making the game more important than it really is...except baseball, where it is tied to homefield advantage in the World Series.

I think if everyone would take a deep breath and realize the All Star game is an exhibition game and it is supposed to be fun to watch, these tight ass writers won't worry so much about the voting.

Bengoodfella said...

They can pry my All Star Game ballot out of my dead, cold hands.

I think a much bigger issue are dumb ass fucking sportswriters who get to vote for Cy Young, Hall of Fame and MVP every single year. It is ironic the same group of shitheads that give us a Justin Morneau or Jimmy Rollins MVP are bitching about All Star Game voting.

Passive Voice said...

What's wrong with giving the fans what they want to see? What's wrong with things that get a league extra attention?

And as for letting players vote, Grigg, MLB already does it. Look how that turned out:

Andy said...

Passive Voice:
It's not Varitek's fault that the entire league hates AJ Pierzynski.

I'd be a big fan of a quiz being administered to fans before they vote...and if you can't answer questions properly, they shred your ballot right in front of you after you've gone to the trouble of punching every Sawks and/or Yankees players on the ballot.

Martin said...

Rafael Palmeiro, Gold Glove winner, 1999. Award voted on by the players and coaches. He played a total of 28 games at the position. Like I should trust their judgement?

Tonus said...

Yeah, that's what the NHL needs- to find more ways to take access AWAY from the fans. Because hockey already has too many fans and if they make any more money the league will sink under the weight of it.

John Grigg should stop sniffing glue. Or if he never has, then he needs to start. Whatever gets him to stop writing such awful crap.