By Jason Shoot
Every few months I get this disturbing and uncomfortable feeling deep within my innards, and unfortunately I cannot say it's from the milk I drank three weeks after the expiration date had passed.
No, instead it seems to occur about the same time the four major sports' respective all-star games roll around the schedule.
Havre is blessed with some of the most knowledgable sports minds the nation has to offer. In fact, just the other day a little girl in a stroller pulled a pacifier out of her mouth to tell me, "Ichiro is going to lead the Mariners to the World Series this year."
But year after year after agonizing year, the rest of the country continues to blow a chance to really showcase its vast knowledge of the American sports scene.
In this season's Major League Baseball All-Star balloting, Cal Ripken leads all third basemen in the American League with nearly 430,000 votes.
That total is 8,000 ahead of Anaheim's Troy Glaus, and 35,000 ahead of Atlanta's Chipper Jones, who leads the National league with a little more than 394,000.
Ripken, who turns 107 in August, is batting a miserable .210 this season and has an on-base percentage of just .243. He has driven in only 25 runs and has a whopping 11 base hits resulting in a double or better.
These Mendoza-like numbers are atrocious, especially when considering hitters are enjoying baseball in the juiced-ball era.
Glaus, who will enjoy his 25th birthday in August, is not exactly tearing up opposing pitchers with his .265 batting average. But he's on pace to hit 43 homers, 43 doubles and drive in 111 runs this season.
Pitchers are more anxious to toss the ball underhand to Ripken, who lacks the power to drive the ball out of the infield, than face Glaus, who is clearly the future of the American League.
So someone pleeeeeeeeease explain to me why the hell Ripken is leading the All-Star balloting.
And don't dare throw his MVP awards, Gold Gloves and consecutive-games-played streak. Those days are long gone, and this All-Star Game should be saved for those players who are deserving this season. I could also care less he's decided to retire at the end of the year.
Every year baseball pundits complain about players who had an incredible first half of the season but were left off the All-Star roster. Well, you need look no further than Ripken, who first started playing when the Dead Sea was still only sick.
Ripken is not the only example of All-Star idiocy on the part of fans. Ken Griffey Jr. is third in the balloting among National League outfielders, and he's only had five hits all season.
Explain to me why Griffey is more deserving than Arizona's Luis Gonzalez, who is batting .356 and on pace for 66 home runs and 146 RBI.
Griffey has batted .267 in the past two seasons combined playing for Cincinnati on a side note, does anyone actually feel sorry for him? so does he really seem worthy of an All-Star nod?
Each year we go through this, and each year I shake my head until my neck aches.
The NBA, NFL and NHL are no better than Major League Baseball, and something must be done.
The balloting should be turned over to the players themselves, and baseball should leave the fans out of the voting process. Yes, the All-Star Game is intended to be for the fans, but they clearly use their authority much like King George III prior to the Revolutionary War with reckless disregard for what is right or wrong.
I would much rather see players worthy of selection into the All-Star Game than players who need the Hubble telescope to see first base or others who haven't been able to jog to first base for the first three months of the season.
Maybe alternatives lie in All-Legend Games, where the participants play cribbage or bingo at every base, and All-Injured Games, where the participants get in make-believe sword fights with their crutches.
Come to think of it, that would be pretty fun to watch. Somebody call Bud Selig. I would, but I'm online trying to write in Hank Aaron on the ballot for NL outfielders.