Yaisel Puig and the All-Star Game

All Star Game, Games, Management, Media, Players, World Series

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game has forever suffered from a lack of definition. With mixed signals coming from teams, players, fans and baseball’s front office, the failure to come to a clear-cut determination as to the game’s import or lack thereof has fostered a sense of stuffing everything into one package.

Is it a competitive game? If so, then why have rules that every team is represented?

Do players want to play in it? Some do, some don’t. Many would like the honor of being named without having to actually go. Even players with All-Star bonuses in their contracts aren’t bothered one way or the other. $50,000 might seem like a lot to you and me, but if a player such as Josh Hamilton doesn’t make it the loss of a $50,000 bonus isn’t much when he’s making $15 million this season.

There have been All-Star moments of competitiveness that made it seem like a real game. Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star game has been brandished as evidence for Rose’s never-ending competitiveness. It has also been a question as to whether Rose did it not just to try and score the run but, in the same vein as his occasionally unnecessary headfirst slides, to get his name and face in the newspapers to make more money for himself. Fosse’s career was severely damaged by the separated shoulder he sustained on the play.

There have also been instances that were entertaining and light-hearted. Barry Bonds lifting Torii Hunter on his shoulder after Hunter robbed Bonds of a homer; John Kruk feigning heart palpitations when Randy Johnson threw a ball over his head; lefty-swinging Larry Walker batting right-handed mid at-bat against the same Johnson; Cal Ripken being pushed to shortstop from third base by Alex Rodriguez at the behest of American League manager Joe Torre in Ripken’s last All-Star Game—we see clips of these moments all the time along with a clip of Rose running into Fosse. The ambiguity lays the foundation for it not being a game-game, but a game that is sort of a game simultaneous to being an exhibition.

If MLB decided to make the contest a true barometer over which league is supposedly “better,” they’d have more than one game, build teams that are constructed to compete with the other league, and play the starters for nine innings. The pitchers would be used for more than a limited number of innings and pitches. Strategy would be seriously employed rather than ensuring that as many players get into the game as possible.

With inter-league play, the frequency of movement of players from team-to-team, and the fans’ ability to watch games from other cities that they didn’t have access to in years past, there’s no novelty in seeing Miguel Cabrera, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. The decision to make the game “count” by awarding home field advantage in the World Series to the winning league was a slapdash, knee-jerk reaction to the criticism of MLB after the tie game in 2002. It was a silly idea, but this decision was no more silly than MLB’s former method of alternating the AL and NL home field advantage on a yearly basis. This isn’t football and home field doesn’t matter all that much. In addition, many players on the All-Star rosters know their clubs have a slim-to-none chance of playing in the World Series anyway, so what do they care?

This is why the debate over Yasiel Puig’s candidacy to be an All-Star is relatively meaningless. There are factional disputes as to its rightness or wrongness, but if the game is of fluctuating rules and viability, then how can there be a series of ironclad mandates as to who’s allowed to participate?

Until MLB decides to make the All-Star Game into either a full-blown exhibition with no pretense of competitiveness or an all-out battle for supremacy there will be these debates that, in the cosmic scheme of things, don’t make a difference one way or the other.

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The Derek Jeter All Star “Controversy”

All Star Game, Books, Fantasy/Roto, Games, Hall Of Fame, Management, Media, Players

Derek Jeter is skipping the All Star Game and it’s turned into the near equivalent of bowing out of game 7 of the World Series.

Let’s look at this point-by-point, shall we?

Here’s a defense of Jeter staying home.

He doesn’t deserve it this year.

As a perennial participant, future Hall of Famer with grand popularity and in the midst of the afterglow of his brilliant throwback performance as he got his 3000th career hit, obviously he’d be a worthy member of the American League squad.

But based on what he is now as an overall player, he’s not an All Star.

Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians; Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox; Yunel Escobar of the Blue Jays; J.J. Hardy of the Orioles; and Jhonny Peralta of the Tigers are all American League shortstops having better years than Jeter.

The same argument that says he “should” be there could be applied to the perception of fairness and what’s needed in a game that supposedly “matters” and will be “played to win”.

What if Jeter went the faux boy scout route and said something inane and made for image consumption like, “I don’t deserve it this year; let someone else have a chance. And it affects the Yankees because we hope to be in the World Series this year and have home field advantage. The AL will have a better chance with players other than me.”

A large segment of the Ian O’Connor/Michael Kay wing of Jeter worshippers would’ve sighed at his selflessness and heroism and bought it as if it was true.

It’s the exact same thing as him saying he’s tired and needs the time off.

After his superlative performance on Saturday in getting his 3000th hit, he should be at the All Star Game.

What one thing has to do with another is beyond me.

Reds outfielder Chris Heisey hit 3 home runs in a game earlier this year (coincidentally against the Yankees); should he be in the All Star Game for that one accomplishment?

Without that 5 for 5 game and the flamboyant way in which he recorded his historic hit with a home run, no one would bat an eye if Jeter had backed out of the game. He’s coming off a stint on the disabled list with a calf injury, he’s older and he needs the time off.

The fans voted him in and deserve to see him play.

The fans? You mean the same dedicated Yankee fans who’ve turned on Jeter in droves as he’s showing the perils of ballplayer-related age and the apparent decision to play without the assistance of PEDs?

The ones who want him moved down in the lineup, benched, traded and borderline shot like a horse?

The ones that refer to him publicly as Captain Groundout and Captain DP?

Those who suggest his defense is so terrible that he needs to be moved to the outfield where he can do the least amount of damage?

Are those the fans you’re referring to?

As Alex Rodriguez can attest, Jeter is rumored to be the iceman with those that cross him. The rift between the two seems healed now—I believe they’re friends again—but after A-Rod’s ill-thought-out and mostly accurate appraisal of Jeter in comparison to himself in a 2001 Esquire interview, the once-close bond exploded into a cold war that took years to fix.

Jeter doesn’t forget. He hears the boos and negative comments of those who once revered him and it’s always from the safety of the stands, on social media sites Twitter and Facebook or on unknown blogs. If they run into him in person, they treat him like he’s their totem and fall at his feet.

It’s the nature of fandom and of people, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less after the way he’s conducted himself over the years.

It’s a betrayal.

Understandable? In a fan sense, yes.

Fair? No.

Are these the fans he’s supposed to appease when, at age 37 and in need of the rest, he made the decision not to attend the All Star Game? A meaningless exhibition that he’s been in for 12 of his 17 big league seasons?

It’s ridiculous.

Then again, the All Star Game itself has degenerated into the ridiculous with the Home Run Derby and 80+ players on the rosters amid all the other silliness that’s going on.

Why should a nonsensical “controversy” be any different from the current sideshow in Arizona right now?

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Stardom

All Star Game, Fantasy/Roto, Games, Hall Of Fame, Management, Media, Players

The All Star Game is meaningless.

It’s a moneymaker and gets the fans involved.

The winning league gets home field advantage in the World Series. That’s one extra game. Given the lack of importance home field plays in baseball, the game “mattering” isn’t even an issue.

The Home Run Derby with the new wrinkle of “captains” David Ortiz and Prince Fielder picking their teammates hearkens back to the days (daze) of the schoolyard.

It’s boring. It’s tiresome. Therefore there’s nothing to argue about, fight about or complain about for snubs and votes for players that are “undeserving”. People want to see Derek Jeter, they voted for Derek Jeter.

If you’d like to make it a game, make it a legitimate game. Here are the All Star starters as they should be:

American League: C-Alex Avila-Tigers; 1B-Adrian Gonzalez-Red Sox; 2B-Robinson Cano-Yankees; 3B-Alex Rodriguez=Yankees; SS-Asdrubal Cabrera-Indians; LF-Alex Gordon-Royals; CF-Curtis Granderson-Yankees; RF-Jose Bautista-Blue Jays; SP-Justin Verlander-Tigers.

National League: C-Brian McCann-Braves; 1B-Prince Fielder-Brewers; 2B-Rickie Weeks-Brewers; 3B-Aramis Ramirez-Cubs; SS-Jose Reyes-Mets; LF-Ryan Braun-Brewers; CF-Matt Kemp-Dodgers; RF-Justin Upton-Diamonbacks; SP-Roy Halladay-Phillies.

The other pitchers and reserves should be picked strategically rather than based on pure numbers. You need a lefty bat off the bench who can hit the ball out of the park and perhaps walk? Pick Jason Giambi. Need a righty set-up man to strike someone out? Pick David Robertson.

Have the managers execute strategy and toss the “every team must be represented” stuff into the trash. Keep the starters in the game and play to win.

Or have what we have now.

It’s either-or.

Have it be a show or have it be a game. But if they made it into a game, there wouldn’t be the attention paid to the gimmicks like Home Run Derby and the fans voting in the first place.

It’s not worth the effort to fix. It simply is.

Leave it be.

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