While it may strike most White Sox fans as an injustice that Chris Sale's All-Star status hinges on the Final Vote, there's actually a not-so-hidden benefit to the whole charade: People are spending more time thinking and talking about Sale.
It's rare when a White Sox laps the field in national recognition, but I don't think there's any question that Sale would win a straight popularity contest on this ballot.
- Dallas Keuchel
- Corey Kluber
- Rick Porcello
- Garrett Richards
- Chris Sale
All things being equal, this is a formidable fivesome, and Kluber has the fullest resume if judged by the same criteria used to pick the starting pitchers already on the All-Star team. But sampling Twitter, Sale seems to draw the sentiment.
Let's take this tweet:
Wait, so Chris Sale was left off of the AL squad? Hahahaha. What.— Purple Row (@PurpleRow) July 6, 2014
That's from our Colorado Rockies counterparts. A Rockies blogger would have no special inclination to follow the White Sox or Sale, but Sale's omission evoked that "...the hell?" kind of reaction from people outside of his media market. In this admittedly unscientific poll, I couldn't find any similar tweets for the other candidates. Statistical case-building from sabermetric types, yes, but Sale was involved in those kinds of arguments, too. I'm talking more about gutteral indignation.
Sale has a head start, with two All-Star appearances and two top-six Cy Young finishes, whereas the rest of the field has zero of either combined. But he also freaks the hell out of people -- because he gets the most unprofessional swings out of professional hitters, because they think his elbow is going to explode with every pitch, because he can't put on weight. The All-Star Game is a showcase for the game's best talent, but Sale's brand of greatness has a mutant mien, which is where those occasional Randy Johnson comparisons come from.
That's why it seems inevitable that Sale will make the All-Star one way or another. but as somebody who likes hearing outsiders opine on the Sox, I'll take the four extra days of chatter. It's good, dumb fun.
(And for what it's worth, the Sox also came up with the best voting mechanism for Twitter, with #TargetSale. It's not a side-splitter or anything, but it stands apart when eight of the 10 players' designated hashtag begins with "#Vote." Richards' hashtag is even more unfortunate, because #VoteGRich makes it look like a guerrilla write-in candidacy for Bobby Grich.)