Using computer technology to exceed the voting limitations of Major League Baseballs (sloppy, naive, badly-conceived) on-line voting rules to elect the American and National League All-Star teams, some Kansas City hackers managed to flood the virtual ballot box with enough votes to elect four Royals players to the squad (after a brief, frightening period when it looked like they would elect eight). Two of the starting Royal All-Stars, shortstop Alcides Escobar and catcher Salvador Perez, are clearly bogus victors who owe their slots and bonus provisions to the cheating ways of a couple of computer savvy fans—or, perhaps, a couple of assholes who distorted the vote, weakened the team, lessened the quality of the game and forced deserving players off the team because they could, to puff up their little pigeon chests with hacker pride.
Every year, MLB hold a supplemental election to let the fans choose among five candidates in each league who have impressive records but haven’t made the All-Star squad. That one is online only, and unlike the main vote, there are no limits to voting. With typical sensitivity (I don’t think the MLB’s leadership could define what cheating is with a gun at their heads), the brass ignored the obvious fact that someone in Kansas City was making a travesty out of the process, and paved the way for him/them/it to do it again. Sure enough, the one Royal on the list of candidates for the final slot, 3rd baseman Mike Moustakas, is leading the early returns. There are already six Royals on the team, not counting the manager, Ned Yost. Of course, MLB could have avoided this obvious problem by leaving Royals off the American League’s final five. Naaaa. That would make sense.
Responding to the fact that their deserving candidates are being victimized by cheaters and the sport isn’t protecting them, some of the teams have worked up a solution: they are cheating too. The Boston Red Sox and their fans feel that their young shortstop, Xander Bogaerts,was robbed by the Kansas City hackers, should have made the team, and would have in a fair system. They are correct. They also feel that All-Star Game viewers will be prevented from seeing one of the rising stars of the game if Bogaerts doesn’t get to go to Cincinnati, where this year’s game will be played. That is also true. 22-year-old All-Stars are rare (though the National League has an amazing one in Bryce Harper, a starting outfielder), and based on his improvement over last year, the Boston shortstop looks like a blooming superstar. His fielding stats show him to be the second best defensively at his position (behind All-Star reserve Jose Iglesias), and his batting line is .303/.340/.416/.755. Escobar’s is .291/.330/.375/.705. You don’t have to understand baseball stats to see that Bogaerts’ are higher, which means better. Trust me on this.
Over in LA, Dodger fans are smarting about the fact that their ace, last year’s National League Cy Young Award winner and the consensus choice of those in the know as the best starting pitcher alive, was left off the NL team because the squad’s manager, the Giants’ Bruce Bochy, picked his inferior ace, Madison Bumgarner, instead. This insult was apparently enough to trigger the Tit for Tat rationalization for unethical conduct, so the Dodgers have made a corrupt pact with the Red Sox. They will urge their fans to vote for Xander, if Boston will prompt its fans to vote for Kershaw.
True, the rules don’t prohibit such a vote trade. It’s still cheating. In a presidential election, the practice is illegal. Such a deal corrupts the voting process, and is unfair to the other candidates. The refrain to this contention will be, “Well, their teams can make similar vote-trade deals.”
Exactly. And that’s how corruption spreads when cheating is tolerated and uncontrolled. Suddenly, not cheating is a disadvantage. Suddenly, honest individuals are encouraged to cheat by the very real likelihood that they will be victims if they don’t. Suddenly, everyone is cheating, and feeling good about doing so, Suddenly, cheating is acceptable, because everybody does it.
And the system is corrupted.
There are three reasons why it is crucial to stop cheating, hard, whenever it occurs. The first is that cheating is unethical: unfair, dishonest, and wrong. The second reason is that cheating works, and thus is addictive. The third reason is that if cheating is allowed to work, everyone will become a cheater.
Funny…you would think that a professional sport would understand this.