Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rant of the Week: The Fan Vote

On Monday, the uber-popular video game MLB 13: The Show, launched a fan vote contest for the cover athlete. It was between Andrew McCutchen, Matt Kemp, Buster Posey, Bryce Harper, Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera and CC Sabathia. And although McCutchen won, the fan vote, once again, opened up the risk of small markets being left in the dust.

Fan votes are like political elections, except for the fact there are 30+ different politicians, and they all have varying populations of constituents. So the politicians from the New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago districts will always receive more votes than those from, say, the Kansas City area. It’s not those larger areas fault for having more people, that’s just the way it is. But when it comes to fan votes, there is a designed biased that is almost impossible to overcome.

If I had to guess the reason McCutchen, who plays for the not-so-big Pittsburgh market, won is that it was not a 30 team selection, it was a seven player selection. And while the markets of New York and Los Angeles had their representatives (I mean, CC Sabathia as the ONLY pitcher to make the finalists stinks of New York biased appeasement), Braun and McCutchen were also finalists. If there’s one thing small market fans have in common, is that we HATE big market teams. So with a group of seven, the small market fans cast their vote(s) towards a small market player and one that didn’t have any history with performance enhancing drugs, even if that history has been kept in a fridge and then dropped in a court of law.

But even the small markets colluding to vote in an underdog isn’t good. My example is and always will be the first ever fan-vote that decided the cover athlete of Madden 12. Peyton Hillis. PEYTON HILLIS! Yeah, he had a 1,000 yard season, and was good throughout the year for the Browns, but for him to be the face for one of the most popular sports franchise games of all time is laughable. And it wasn’t like Electronic Arts, the creator of the game, put Hillis in a good position to succeed; as a 10th seed, Hillis went head-to-head in the voting against Ray Rice (7 seed), Matt Ryan (2 seed), Jamaal Charles (6 seed), and Aaron Rodgers (1 seed) before finally beating Michael Vick, a 3 seed, in the championship round.

This is the downfall of a fan vote. When guy’s like Hillis are winning. Sure, Madden 13 fan vote corrected itself with Calvin Johnson winning, but the damage has been done. That doesn’t mean I don’t like participating myself. I voted in the MLB 13 fan vote. I voted in both Madden fan votes. And you better be dang sure I stuff the ballot box as much as I can for the NFL Pro Bowl and MLB All-Star Game. Fan votes allow fans to feel like they have a voice, and that their voice will be heard. And there are a lot of players that don’t get the media coverage in small markets but get into those games because of grassroot campaigns started by the fans. Heck, I voted for Alex Gordon to get into the All-Star game so much in 2011 that the Royals gave me two free tickets to a game. Don’t’ get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy the fan vote, but I recognize the pitfalls.

When the options are a big market hero and a small market underdog, maybe we should just leave it to the professionals. Because isn’t it better to be pissed off at EA than pissed off at the rest of America?

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