This season's National League Final Vote has its usual field of five candidates, but let's be real here — it's essentially a two-horse race between 19-year-old phenom Bryce Harper and 40-year-old future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones.
The truth, however, is that neither player deserves an All-Star nod.
If we're voting based on entertainment value, yes, Harper deserves to book a flight to Kansas City. He'll bring his polarizing personality, his undeniable talent and a breath of fresh air to the event.
If we're going down the tradition route and honoring a great third baseman with one last hurrah, sure, Jones needs to be there. He's one of the classiest individuals to play the game and excelled during the Steroid Era despite zero allegations against him. He's also in the midst of an emotional farewell tour in which fans everywhere are paying their respects.
However, if this season's performance is the measuring stick by which fans are voting, Braves center fielder Michael Bourn should be the one taking part in the festivities.
Bourn has been tremendous for Atlanta this season, consistently serving as the club's catalyst as it stays in contention in the talented National League East. The stellar play has been evident both offensively and defensively, and, for that, he deserves an All-Star selection over the other four Final Vote candidates, including Harper and Jones.
The fact that Bourn won't be selected, and the fact that we essentially have the Harper-Jones showdown, shows an inconsistent approach to the MLB All-Star Game.
Ever since 2003, when it was decided that the All-Star Game would determine home-field advantage in the World Series, we've been bombarded with the whole "this one counts" tagline — an obvious attempt by the league to drum up interest by pointing out the importance of the game. The idea of home-field advantage being decided by an All-Star Game is foolish enough as it is, but it's especially troubling when you consider the fact that the game often doesn't feature the most deserving All-Stars — something that's going to be the case this season as a result of the Harper-Jones Final Vote battle.
Jones may deserve a hero's sendoff, and Harper represents the future of MLB, but if we're really expected to embrace a competitive nature around the game, fans should be expected to vote on which player is having the best season. That's obviously an unrealistic possiblity, though, because Bourn and the other candidates — David Freese and Aaron Hill — lack the star power or intrigue of Harper and Jones. Bourn, Freese and Hill wouldn't add much to the contest in the way of flair, so there's really no incentive for them to get voted in over someone who would provide that extra pizzazz.
In other words, MLB is saying, "We have this game that is extremely important. But feel free to consider things beyond the type of season a player is having when voting in the final player." That logic doesn't seem consistent, and it instead comes off like the league is trying to have it all, which really isn't possible.
Is it a big deal that Harper or Jones is going to get in over the likes of someone having a better season? No, not at all. But it does further prove that the MLB All-Star Game could use some adjustments.