Kenley Jansen is right. He’s just plain right.
The reason the Dodgers don’t have any starters on the National League All-Star team is nothing less than fan apathy.
It may have been the elephant in the Dodgers clubhouse, but Jansen, the Dodgers closer who was selected to the team, made sure it was all out in the open.
“I’ll say it loud and clear again: It’s the Dodger fans’ fault,” Jansen said Sunday after the voting was announced.
There were broadcasters who shall go unnamed — OK, it was Orel Hershiser; you forced it out of me — who tried to be indignant that there weren’t any Dodgers picked as starters, but then realized the people they really were criticizing were the team’s own fans. So instead of indignation, they had to settle for disappointment.
Not Jansen. He went to the source of the situation just as he goes for the strike zone, and he’s right.
The Dodgers lead baseball in attendance, both at home and on the road. Fans are fine with coming to games, but not about voting. The voting for the All-Star Game used to be done at the ballparks, but now it’s only done online.
Apparently, Dodgers fans will come to games, but they can’t be bothered to vote for All-Stars.
There are some who fault SportsNet LA, the Dodgers’ way-too-exclusive TV network, which is available only to those who have Spectrum cable, for the team being snubbed in All-Star voting. They argue that if more people could watch the Dodgers, more people would vote for Dodgers.
But even with that, it’s not as if the Dodgers are invisible. If someone wants to follow the Dodgers, they can follow the Dodgers. Same goes with voting for them. Or not.
To be blunt about it, Angelenos care about only themselves. It’s very rare for them to go crazy about anything, even in sports. All you have to do is look at sports TV ratings. L.A. may be the second largest market in the nation, but Angelenos very rarely sit still long enough to watch something together on TV. Usually, L.A. ranks near the bottom of the top TV markets when it comes to watching big sporting events. The last time L.A. came close to uniting in that way was in the Lakers’ heyday and we all know how long ago that was.
Part of it may have to do with the weather. It’s not easy to get people to stay inside and watch TV when there’s all this sunshine going on outside. Even if you can watch the Dodgers on TV, there’s a good chance you don’t.
So Jansen, while grateful for his selection by players, was acrimonious that teammates Corey Seager and Justin Turner had not been picked as starters in fan voting.
Seager was picked as a reserve by player voting, along with rookie Cody Bellinger and pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Turner was reduced to being one of the five players in the online “Final Vote” to select the final NL roster spot.
Yeah, like that’s going to happen.
“We should have voted for those two guys,” Jansen said of Seager and Turner. “They deserved to be the starters.”
Instead, Zack Cozart of the Reds will start at shortstop, beating out Seager — who led the early voting — by 86,000 votes. Nolan Arenado of the Rockies will start at third. Turner wasn’t even second. He finished a very distant third, 1.2 million votes behind Arenado and 987,000 behind runner-up Kris Bryant of the Cubs, who is also in the Final Vote.
Cozart is batting .322 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs while Seager is hitting .305 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs. There are pros and cons for each player.
Turner has played in only 59 of the Dodgers’ 84 games because of injury, so he doesn’t yet qualify to be among the league leaders, but his numbers are remarkable. He’s batting .382 with seven homers and 31 RBIs. His on-base percentage is .472. But Arenado has played in 83 of Colorado’s 84 games. He’s hitting .298 with 15 homers and 62 RBIs. Bryant is batting .263 with 16 homers and 32 RBIs.
Kershaw is scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers on Sunday and therefore would be ineligible to pitch in the July 11 All-Star Game. That could open the way for another snubbed Dodger, Alex Wood (9-0, 1.83 ERA), to take his place.
The Dodgers (55-29) have the best record in the NL, but will have no All-Star starters. At this time last season, the Cubs had the best record and they wound up having their entire infield voted in as starters.
Of course, in Chicago, even a dead guy can be voted into office.
It’s not easy to vote for Turner or any other Final Vote player. At MLB.com or the At Bat app, it’s easier to get Garth Brooks concert tickets than it is to vote. After getting past a slew of All-Star stories and advertising, you finally get to the Final Vote ballot. But once you cast your vote, you have to put in your e-mail address, your date of birth, your ZIP code, your country of residence and your favorite team. Then you have to type in those curvy verification numbers to prove you’re not a robot or a Transformer or Mr. Peabody’s WABAC machine, and opt in or out of receiving offers from MLB or its Final Vote sponsor (which I won’t name because that would only play into their nefarious scheme).
However, it’s a lot easier to text your vote. For instance, for Turner, texting “N5” to 89269 does the same thing without having to jump through all the hoops. You can text up to 35 times.
Which I did. The last thing I want is for Kenley Jansen to be mad at me.