Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Every year at this time always seems to be question for debate, the MLB All Star Game rosters are announced. And as usual, there are obvious snubs and players not deserving of the honor.
This year is no exception.
With fans giving the opportunity to voice their opinions and deciding on the starters, the All Star Game is becoming more and more of a popularity contest.
Fans are allowed to vote up to 25 times, which means the popular teams-the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs-will have a significant number of players represented.
This year, Cubs and Red Sox fans have overwhelmingly stuffed the ballots. I'm certain there are many fans' of these teams who not only vote 25 times for themselves, but also vote for their relatives, friends and even their dog.
The Red Sox have won 2 titles in the last 4 years making them one of the best teams in the game. However in recent weeks the BoSox have fell off the chart and are now 4 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays. Big Papi is out, Dice K seems to already thrown out his arm, Manny's struggling, Schilling's career could be over (hopefully, and I bet now he wished he would have signed with the Rays last winter).
Then that leads us to Boston's captain, catcher Jason Varitek. About two weeks ago, Varitek was the leading vote getter for the AL. Since then, fans have wised up and voted for the best catcher in the game, Minnesota's Joe Mauer, to surpass Varitek.
Varitek will still represent the Red Sox even though he's flirting with the Mendoza Line, batting around .218. Two-FREAKIN!-18! I haven't done the research, but I'm guessing this is the lowest batting average ever for a player on the All Star Roster.
There are more catchers than teams in the AL with a higher batting average than "Tek." Hell, there are a lot more pitchers with a better batting average than Tek.
Maybe the likes of A.J. Pierzynski, Ivan Rodriquez, Jorge Posada or Victor Marinez, to name a few, should have got the nod.
Another Boston player, second baseman Dustin Pedroia solidifies the case of Boston fan stuffing the ballot. Yeah, Pedroia been on a tear of late, but how does he get the start over the Texas Rangers' Ian Kinsler. All Kinsler has done is lead the league in batting average at .338.
As for the outfield, Manny and Ichiro are having sub par seasons but get the start based solely on their popularity (and of course Manny being a Red Sox).
Let's see. Maybe Johnny Damon (batting over .320, but now on the DL), Kansas City's David DeJesus (.316 BA), the Tigers' Magglio Ordonez (on the DL) and Curtis Granderson. Granderson has sparked the Tigers back into contention and last year became only the second player ever with 30 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs, and 20 stolen bases in a season. Wow!
And the best team in baseball, the Rays, only have two players represented! They'll probably get Evan Longoria, but what about Carl Crawford? Crawford homered in last year's game.
And what's an All Star Game without Vladimir Guerrero! Is that a misprint? Guerrero, last year's home run derby champion, not in the All Star Game! Does he still get to defend his title.
And with Big Papi out, let's hope the DH goes to the Yankees' Hideki Matsui. Matsui's batting .323.
Even Boston did have players get the shaft. Dice K is 9-1 and third baseman Mike Lowell is batting around .300.
But the biggest snub maybe Mike Mussina for the Yanks. Mussina has stepped up as the Yankees ace this year (11-6), after everybody dismissed his career last year. Many lobbied for Mussina to even start the All Star Game in his home stadium.
On to the National League. The Chicago Cubs have always been the lovable losers and this year everyone thinks the 100 year drought will come to an end. But lately the Cubs, have well, looked like the Cubs, going 8-11 in their last 19 games. And now the Brewers' have added CC Sabathia and now what once looked like a runaway for the Cubbies has all the sudden turned into a three team race.
The Cubs will have 7 players in this year's All Star Game. Geovany Soto, who should runaway with the rookie of the year, received the nod as the starting catcher. Soto gets the start over LA's Russell Martin (.305 BA), Atlanta's Brian McCann (.293 BA), and San Fran's Bengie Molina (.293 BA). All three with better averages than Soto. Martin and McCann were selected to the team.
With every MLB team guaranteed to have at least one player represented, the Washington National's lone man is SS Cristian Guzman. A major problem with this, fan favorite Jose Reyes is left off the team.
Another NY Met fan favorite also left off the team (for now) is third baseman David Wright. Of course Chicago's Aramis Ramirez gets the spot over Wright.
The outfield for the NL is a complete mess. Begin with the Cubs' Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano. Soriano won't be on the team because of injury and Fukudome really hasn't played like an All Star, there's probably at least ten outfielders left of the roster batting better than Fukudome. You can argue that the Japanese population stuffed the ballots for Fukudome, but then why was Hideki Matsui left off the AL roster?
How does Pittsburgh's Nate McLouth (.279 BA, 16 HR) get the spot over teammate Xavier Nady (.323 BA, 12 HR)? Also questionable omissions: San Francisco's Aaron Rowand (.300, 8 HR), Milwaukee's Corey (I wear my sunglasses at night) Hart (.299, 14 HR), and Houston's Carlos Lee (.292, 20 HR, 70 RBI).
And if it is about a popularity contest, where is Ken Griffey Jr.? He just surpassed 600 runs, this could be his last season. You need him in this game.
So there you have it. That's my rants and raves.
I've always like the idea of giving the voice to the fans and letting them select the starters. But when you think about it, with the internet, who knows how many times a crazy fan is voting for the same players. Remember back in the day, like ten years ago, when you actually had to attend a MLB game, get you own ballot, punch the holes out for the starter at each position and then mail in your ballot?
This may have been more time consuming but those All Star Games were just that, All Star Games!
And now, the All Star Game is more than an exhibition, it's for home field advantage in the World Series. So you really want the best players representing each league.
And don't we see enough of the Cubs and Red Sox already? We all know about ESPN's love affair with the Red Sox, it seems like they're on ESPN every other night. And the Red Sox occasionally appear on FOX's or TBS's Game of the Week.
Of course the Cubs have WGN.
Season stats or career stats, for that matter, no longer are factors which determine an All Star. What team you play for and national exposure is the new criteria.
I guess if you're the American League, you should consider losing the game giving you a better chance to win the World Series on your home field. We all know the AL is way better than the NL. The AL has won 3 of the last 4 Titles, sweeping the NL in all 3 World Series.
I think the National League will keep the game competitive because their pitching is nasty, but the AL has far too much fire power.
Make it 11 for the last 12 (2002 was the tie).
My only question with the All Star Game, where are the stars?