Saturday, January 03, 2009

The All-Star Game

Believe me when I say this: you DON'T want to sit next to me and say, "Talk to me a bit about hockey." I would then proceed to talk non-stop for more than an hour--without stopping to breathe. I am a hockey fan--bordering on being obsessed. So, this is probably a shock to all who read this--as much as it is a shock to me. I will NOT be watching the all-star game this year and I will NOT be voting for the starting lineup. Frankly, I hope NO Red Wing gets to play the game--it will be better for them to have a break and nurse whatever aches and pains they may be suffering. And now to explain.

In the NHL--and maybe for other sports, too--the starting lineup for the all-star game is voted by the fans. For the most part, this has worked pretty well, as the fan favorites have usually been players who are also playing quite well. Then the interweb came into being. Last year someone online thought it would be funny if a less-than stellar player was voted into the starting lineup--I don't remember the player or what team he played for. It was kind of amusing, but only because he got no more than ten thousand or so points. This year, things turned into a total bad joke.

The Montreal Canadiens are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. This, of course, gives every Habs' fan the feeling that everything has to be about them this year. If the NHL would have canceled the season and awarded the Stanley Cup to the Habs without them having to earn it, the fans would have thought it was the right thing to do. So, because the season had to be played, the Montreal fans decided that the entire starting lineup for the Eastern team needed to be Canadiens. This came VERY close to happening because a ballot-stuffing program was written to help accomplish this. Word got out--like it WOULDN'T--and there was an uproar created by non-Montreal fans. The NHL stepped in and took away some of the votes that were cast for the Habs and all was supposed to be well. But it wasn't.

Some of the biggest complainers of the ballot-stuffing going on were the Penguin fans. They, in turn, decided that Crosby had to become the largest vote-getter in history, so they used ballot-stuffing programs to do this. The NHL is happy that Crosby has attained this level of success (?) and nothing has been done about the votes he has. So the voting continued.

Finally, other fans of other teams saw the success that was to be had, so they in turn used their own programs to vote players in. In the course of a week, the voting for the Western team went from a mix of Red Wings, Sharks, Blackhawks, and a Canuck, to only players from the Ducks and 'Hawks. Hundreds of thousands of votes were cast for these players in that week--putting the Wings' players right out of the running for starting lineup status. (And, no, this ISN'T me--a Wings' fan--being pissy over 'my' team being overlooked.)

While the all-star game has always been a popularity contest, it now is just a joke. It is a battle between fans over whoever can come up with the best program to stuff the ballots the way they want. This in no way has anything to do with the best 'all-star' players playing against each other. This is just what fan-base can cheat the best. Because the Red Wings are so far down in votes, I guess this just proves that not only are the Red Wings a very classy organization, but they have quite classy fans as well. Or they don't know how to write ballot-stuffing programs! ;)

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