Same time, every year; same complaint, every year. In one week, the annual baseball All-Star game will be played (this time in Anaheim), and the same complaints are heard about who is and who isn’t a member of each league’s roster.
To baseball fans, it matters because this all-star affair actually IS a game with a determinable outcome, often with spectacular plays and with something tangible (although it should not be) on the line.
Let’s go with what we know. Here is the starting lineup for the National League:
Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis; Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis; Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia; David Wright, 3B, New York Mets; Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida; Ryan Braun, Milwaukee, Jason Heyward, OF, Atlanta, Andre Ethier, Los Angeles.
Utley is injured and will not participate in the game, replaced by Atlanta’s Martin Prado.
Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel chose an entire staff of right-handers (except for 40-year-old Arthur Lee Rhodes of Cincinnati, making it as a sentimental first-time All-Star choice in his 20th season), including starters Roy Halladay, Philadelphia, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, St. Louis, Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee, Tim Hudson, Atlanta, Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado, Josh Johnson, Florida, Tim Lincecum, San Francisco, and relievers Matt Capps, Washington, Evan Meek, Pittsburgh, Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Brain Wilson, San Francisco.
The reserves are Brian McCann, C, Atlanta; Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia; Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, San Diego; shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado (but he’s injured and was replaced by New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes); Brandon Phillips, 2B, Cincinnati; Scott Rolen, 3B, Cincinnati; outfielders Michael Bourn, Houston, Marlon Byrd, Chicago Cubs, Corey Hart, Milwaukee, Matt Holliday, St. Louis, Chris Young, Arizona, and utility player Omar Infante, Atlanta.
The American League starters (with one addition at DH) are:
Joe Mauer, C, Minnesota; Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota; Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees; Derek Jeter, SS, New York Yankees; Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay; outfielders Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle, Josh Hamilton, Texas, Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay; and designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero, Texas.
Yankee manager Joe Girardi picked 13 hurlers (five lefties) including starters CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes of the Yankees, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester from Boston, Trevor Cahill of Oakland, Fausto Carmona of Cleveland, Cliff Lee of Seattle, David Price of Tampa Bay, and relievers Neftali Feliz, Texas, Matt Thornton, Chicago White Sox, Joakim Soria, Kansas City, Jose Valverde, Detroit, and, of course, Mariano Rivera, Yankees.
Reserves include Victor Martinez, C, Boston (injured and replaced by John Buck, Toronto); Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit; Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston (also injured and replaced by Ian Kinsler of Texas); Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas; Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees, Adrian Beltre, 3B, Boston; designated hitter David Ortiz, Boston; outfielders Torri Hunter, Los Angeles Angels, Vernon Wells and Jose Bautista, Toronto, and utility infielder Ty Wigginton, Baltimore.
Now … this selection process is made complicated by three factors – all teams MUST have at least one (1) representative on the All-Star team; injuries that have removed certain players from the game, forcing the managers to make alternative picks (often leaving deserving players at home) and the expansion of rosters by Major League Baseball in order to force a winner of the affair (because World Series home field is stupidly at stake).
This year, there is a FOURTH factor – any pitcher throwing on Sunday before the All-Star Game can’t pitch in the Mid-Summer Classic. So even MORE last second replacements will be named, further watering down the honor.
That said, several injustices have taken place. The fans’ selections, for the most part, are laudable – no complaints there except for Jason Heyward, who shouldn’t start but should be on the squad.
There are too many unforgiveable snubs and here’s who they are:
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati – Yes I know there are too many good first basemen in the National League (and junior circuit as well), but with the Reds’ success, Votto is a legitimate MVP candidate. If an All-Star team cannot make room for the Vottos of the game, it ain’t worth playing.
Mat Latos/Heath Bell, pitchers, San Diego – Let me see; the best pitching staff in MLB has NO representatives on it? Absurd. Both need to be on the staff instead of Meek (but no Pirate deserves a thing) and (yes) Tim Lincecum (his 2010 stats don’t measure up to Latos OR Bell).
Mike Pelfrey, SP, Mets – Add Pelfrey, at 10-2, 2.93 ERA and 1.29 WHIP to the list. It will take an injury or Sunday start to shoehorn his way into the game.
Juan Uribe, INF, SF – Uribe is at least a full-time starter at three different infield slots (3B, SS, 2B). Infante doesn’t even play full-time and his selection is the cruelest joke of them all!!!!!! His choice denigrates the entire affair.
Andy Pettitte, SP, Yankees – Unless he begged off the list, no way Pettitte should NOT have been included, even if it meant four Yankees on the staff. They ALL deserve it, far above either Clay Buchholz OR Jon Lester of the Red Sox (pick one, but not both).
Jered Weaver, SP, Angels – This guy leads the AL in strikeouts with 124 and is carrying the entire team, pitching-wise, and keeping the Halos in the AL West chase. He is 8-3, 2.82 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Unjustifiable that he is NOT an All-Star. He might make it because Buchholz is about to go on the DL.
Howie Kendrick, 2B, Angels – Kendrick (7 HRs, 50 RBI, .271) should have been the replacement for Pedroia, not Texas’ Kinsler, who only began HIS season in June. Another sham!
Brennan Boesch, OF, Detroit – I could make a good argument for teammate Magglio Ordonez, but this Tiger rookie is smashing up the AL with a .345 average, 12 HRs and 46 RBI … all since May! He’s the runaway winner for Rookie of the Year and deserves inclusion.
Kevin Youkilis, 1B-3B, Boston – Another major injustice! Sorry, Adrian Beltre is having a fine season but Youkilis is an MVP candidate … AGAIN! Look at Boston’s injury situation and the constant remains Youkilis, who should be on the roster, period, instead of David Ortiz! That’s a crime.
Again, there’s a week to go and there will be several players begging OFF and bowing out due to injury. Perhaps there can be some justice but it will be second-rate.