All-Star Shame; Prospects Flame

Home of the 2010 All-Star Game
Image by Evan Wohrman via Flickr

I’m going to go on my annual rant about the All-Star Game albeit somewhat less harsh. This game is at a crossroads. What is it really and what has it become? Historically the All-Star Game was created to offer some excitement during the Great Depression.

No fewer than 19 future Hall of Famers participated. The game was played for league pride with six of the National League‘s starters playing the whole game while seven of the AL’s did. Six pitchers were used with Lon Warneke toiling the most innings – four. By the way, the American League won 4-2 at Comiskey Park.

The game has evolved into a four day showcase with the game almost being anti-climactic. The Fanfest is worthwhile but the Home Run Derby is superfluous commercially fueled nonsense. So who should be chosen the play in the game? If it is for the casual fans, who vote for the starters and want entertainment then it should be a showcase for the best players who may not be having the best years, like Ryan Howard. But if it’s to reward those players having great years, then it should include Joey Votto.I happen to fall in the latter category. Otherwise, worthy players like Votto would never be chosen as long as Howard and Pujols are playing.

The new rules, as usual, are absurd, like no longer allowing chosen starting pitchers to play if they pitched on the prior Sunday. What, these guys can’t pitch two innings max? Expanding the rosters to 34 so that the are more pitchers is also mindless.

What they haven’t addressed is the archaic rule that each team must have at least one representative. That, too, impedes worthy players.

The managers are more concerned about getting everyone into the game so the players you really want to see will probably be out by the 6th inning. That’s for the players’ benefit, not the fans. It seems like there is more intensity in the game because of the home team award, but this, too, is a distraction.

Now for the rosters. This is one of those rare years where everybody – the fans, players, managers and League office got it almost right. One pleasant development was the naming of Arthur Rhodes to the NL Team and Matt Thornton in the AL. It’s about time good effective relievers besides closers are included and here’s hoping even more are picked next year. Then there were the puzzling decisions. Perhaps the most surprising was Charlie Manuel‘s choice of Omar Infante. That’s a head scratcher.

And of course, the annual snubs. This year it’s the exclusion of American League pitchers Jered Weaver and Andy Pettitte, especially Weaver (8-3/2.82/1.06 WHIP) since the game is at Angels’ Stadium. Now some will say that the Yankees shouldn’t have three starters on the team but who do you exclude (Philip Hughes 10-2/3.83, CC Sabathia 10-3/3.33 or Pettitte 10-2/2.82)? If that means that Fausto Carmona doesn’t make it so be it. Besides Votto in the NL, the biggest insult was not naming any San Diego pitcher to the team! Mat Latos (9-4/2.62) and Clayton Richard (6-4/2.74) surely deserve to go as does closer Heath Bell who was vanquished to the final team member public vote.

Baseball has been transformed from an idyllic game with a rich heritage to nothing more than any other sport: a form of entertainment with contests, loud music, sausage races and between inning ads. How I long for the days of just going to watch a good game without the odious activities designed to keep fans engaged.

Jered Weaver Has Been Snubbed

This one’s for the Elias Sports Bureau. I can’t recall a season where teams have called up used their top prospects so early in the season. No fewer than 12 teams either have called up or broke camp with these future stars.

Here is the illustrious list:

Jason Heyward           Atlanta

Brian Matusz             Baltimore

Starlin Castro            Chicago Cubs

Carlos Santana         Cleveland

Mike Stanton           Florida

Jason Castro            Houston

Alcides Escobar       Milwaukee

Jennry Mejia           New York Mets

Pedro Alvarez         Pittsburgh

Buster Posey          San Francisco

Neftali Perez           Texas

Stephen Strasburg Washington

Mejia has since been sent down but most of the others are having solid years, except Escobar was given the shortstop job in spring training and has been struggling at both the plate and the field.

As good has some have been, however, none deserve to be on the All-Star Team, Fans game or not, Heyward is hitting in the .260’s and Strasburg, as good as he has been, has started all of six games.

Stephen Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg...Not This Year

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