Well done, baseball fans

Colorado Rockies second baseman Eric Young, Jr. dives back to first base with the pick off throw going to Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto at Coors Field in Denver on September 10, 2009. Young stole two bases with two base hits against the Reds. Colorado swept Cincinnati 5-1 in the series finale. UPI/Gary C. Caskey... Photo via Newscom

While fans are often criticized (and deservedly so) for making the MLB All-Star Game a popularity contest when it comes to voting, they got it right on Thursday when they selected the Reds’ Joey Votto to be the final representative for the National League at this year’s Midsummer Classic.

From SI.com:

Votto earned the 34th and final spot on the National League roster by beating out Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and Atlanta closer Billy Wagner. Padres reliever Heath Bell was a candidate before being chosen as an injury replacement on the NL squad.

“I would say I’m relieved,” Votto said. “I’m really glad this whole thing is over with. It was kind of taxing on me. I’m excited and I really, really appreciate the fans and their support.”

Cincinnati players campaigned for their teammate, donning “Vote Votto” red T-shirts during batting practice Wednesday before their game against the New York Mets.

“I just really appreciate the accomplishment. I’m going to take it in,” Votto added. “It means a lot to me. I’ve always wanted to be an All-Star.”

Votto hit his 22nd homer early in Thursday night’s game against Philadelphia. He began the day batting .313 and leading the NL in homers, slugging percentage (.588) and on-base percentage (.417).

As I wrote earlier this week, I’m well aware that Votto plays in the same league as Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez. But that doesn’t change the fact that he has better numbers than all three of those stars and deserved to play in the ASG this year. It would have been a sports tragedy if he weren’t selected.

Outside of Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies, one could make the argument that no player in the National League has meant more to their team in the first half then Votto. Collectively, the Reds have played good baseball this year, but it’s mainly because of Votto that they’re currently three games ahead of the Cardinals for first place in the NL Central.

Hopefully Votto will have a couple of good at bats and show a national audience what Cincinnati fans already know: that the 26-year-old first baseman can play.

Oh, and Nick Swisher of the Yankees was the fans’ vote in the American League, which is also a well-deserved honor. (Even though he basically politicked for his votes.)

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No reason Stephen Strasburg should have been left off the NL All-Star roster

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg delivers to a New york Mets batter in the first inning of their National League MLB baseball game in Washington, July 3, 2010. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

I’m fully aware that he has only been pitching for about a month. I’m also aware that there are other pitchers in the National League who have been equally as impressive (the Cardinals’ Jamie Garcia being one of them).

But there’s still no excuse why Stephen Strasburg was left off the NL All-Star Game roster. In fact, there’s only one reason why he should be getting ready to pitch in L.A. two weeks from now and it has nothing to do with the number of starts he’s made or batters he has struck out so far in his young career.

Ever since Bud Selig decided to make the All-Star Game relevant in 2003 by awarding the winner home field advantage in the World Series, the pastime has taken on a ton of importance. And seeing as how the game means so much for the league that wins, isn’t it vital for both teams to field the best players?

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Joey Votto: The ultimate All-Star Game snub

How does Joey Votto not make the 2010 MLB All-Star Game? Well, I know how he didn’t make it: he plays in the same league as Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard and Adrian Gonzalez. But I mean, how can baseball allow this to happen?

This isn’t as much about Howard or Gonzo (two worthy All-Stars) as it as about Votto, who leads the Reds and ranks among NL leaders in hitting (.312), home runs (19), RBI (57), total bases (163) and on-base percentage (.414). Oh-and-by-the-way, he also leads all NL first basemen (including Pujols, mind you) with a .988 OPS.

Last time I checked, baseball is the king of numbers and stats. Yet even though Votto was statistically the best at his position in the first half, he didn’t make the final cut. It would be shocking if it weren’t so predictable given that Pujols, Howard and Gonzalez were locks to make the NL squad before voting even began.

Forget numbers for a second and let me throw this question out there: Would the Reds be 11 games over .500 and in first place in the NL Central right now without Votto? No flipping way. Cincinnati is on its way to having its first winning season since The Oregon Trail was the top selling video game in America and he deserves to be recognized for it.

The good news is that with injuries to guys like Jason Heyward and Troy Tulowitzki, there may be a roster spot open for Votto when it’s all said and done. And there better be, seeing as how nobody is more deserving of an All-Star roster spot than him. It would be a freaking baseball travesty if he didn’t get to travel to L.A. this year to take part in the well-deserved honor.

To check out the official, Joey Votto-less AL and NL All-Star Game rosters, click here.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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