MLS, the league that loves it's fans but doesn't think they're all that bright, has now opened the All Star voting process whereby 25% of the decision making process is given to half a million fans and then some other guys pick the team.
This process gives us "The First XI". That's not to suggest that it represents the actual ASG starting team, of course. That's up to the coach, after he or some close personal friends pick 5 or 6 more game roster players, depending on how many Commissioner Garber decides he wants to select personally.
Then, somehow or other, a couple dozen reserves, a dozen or so alternates and a number of "double-secret reserve-standby-alternates" are named for reasons which defy explanation.
At the end of the "process" we're left with an incomprehensible "All Star Roster" of who knows how many - 50? 75? 350? - players, 11 of whom the fans had a 25% voice in selecting. Democracy in action.
Happily, MLS generously allows you to vote "ten times per day" so that between today and July 2 you can cast almost 500 basically meaningless ballots for whomever you want, after which the "media", players and GM's will get together, have a good laugh at your foolishness, and then select the team.
Much of this silliness is made necessary by the fact that the All Star game is codified in the CBA with the Players Union, which specifies that even if there is no game of any kind the league still has to make out a list of at least 32 players who WOULD have been on the team if there had been one and thus qualify for any performance bonus their contract entitles them to for making the team.
The reason the number is much larger than the actual number of guys who, like, get uniforms and actually play in the game is that the CBA anticipated having two teams in a normal East vs. West kind of a format. So even though the league decided to start playing overseas teams instead, and thus needed a much smaller roster, they still have to name at least 32 guys, including the "First XI" which is not to be confused with the "Best XI" which is what the CBA refers to as "the All League Team", confusing the issue even more.
So basically, between a labor agreement which is designed around a game which doesn't exist and an anal retentive league which dislikes letting any real decision making be done anyplace other than in-house, what we're left with is a confusing, arcane process which selects legions of "All Stars" but still leaves off deserving players like Barros-Schelotto last year (who, fortunately, was recently arrived from Argentina and didn't have the first clue what an "All Star Team" was) while allowing Peter Nowak to name his entire roster, his clubhouse boy and the guy who details his car..
The league, you see, is worried that if the team is selected just by the fans that old broken own players or just guys who were good last year but who stink this season will be chosen to represent the league.
This is particularly comical coming from a league which just announced that three of the worst teams in MLS will be representing the league in the CONCACAF Champions league, because they had good seasons last year.
So vote early, vote often, pay no attention to the results and wait for the league to announce the team in mid-July. Have fun.