All Star Game Reactions

July 7, 2013

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The media tells us that fans don’t really care about baseball’s All Star Game.  I’m the counterpoint to that – I loved the All Star Game as a kid, and I still enjoy it today.  The ability to see all the great players congregating in one place makes the event bigger than the Super Bowl for me.  I’m not particularly interested in ancillary activities like the Home Run Derby – I’m all about the game.  Here are my reactions to this year’s game.

Rockies Representation

My Colorado Rockies will send three players to the game.  Troy Tulowitzki was the runaway leader at shortstop, despite losing a month to a broken rib.  Tulo will start a rehab assignment tomorrow and might play in the game.  Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is having a tremendous year and was also voted a starter, as Justin Upton’s lack of May/June production caused him to plummet in the late voting.  Finally, outfield Michael Cuddyer was elected by the players.

Yasiel Puig

The single biggest story surrounding the All Star game is whether or not Dodgers rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig will be in the game.  Puig has only a month of service time in the majors, but he has been arguably the best player in baseball during that time.  That has sparked a lively debated.  Proponents of adding Puig to the roster argue that he’s clearly a star.  Those opposed to his inclusion say that he hasn’t paid his dues.  At the moment, he’s a candidate on the Final Man vote and will most likely be added to the team.

Roster Size

Each team will have 34 players who will be eligible to play in the game.  Additionally, there will be several players who don’t count against that total – players who are injured, or pitchers who pitch in a regular game next Sunday and opt not to pitch in the game.  This means that each team will have around 40 players in uniform for the game.  Have 80 “All Stars” stretches the meaning of the term a bit.

I’d be in favor of a small roster of 25 active player and a hard cap of 30 players suited up for each side.  To accomplish this, MLB would have to do away with the rule that every team must be represented.  Their argument is that fans are more likely to watch if they can watch one of their team’s players.  Of course, as the roster has swelled, a lot of these players sit on the bench for the entire game.  It’s simply not feasible to work 34 players into the game without making the game six hours long and pretty much making a mockery of the process.  If you want to force the inclusion of all teams, make it a rolling 2 or 3 year schedule, where each team is guaranteed a player in specific years.

Prediction

Who is going to win the game?  The National League, of course.  (Naturally, that’s my prediction every single year)

 

Is Taylor Teagarden An All-Star?

June 9, 2010

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Taylor Teagarden, a catcher for the Texas Rangers, was 4th in the voting for American League catcher in numbers that were released on June 7th. In 10 games this year, Teagarden has 4 walks … and 1 hit. That sole hit – a ground ball in the 3rd inning of an April 24th loss to the Tigers – didn’t save his job. He was demoted to the minors and is currently working behind the plate in AA Frisco. Teagarden’s .037 batting average apparently endeared him to a lot of fans, though – his vote total of 247,248 was nearly 60,000 more votes than Mike Napoli of the Angels had received. Napoli has 40 times as many hits as Teagarden. I’m sure Teagarden is a great guy, but he’s not having an All-Star caliber year by any stretch of the imagination.

While I love the All-Star game and enjoy having the fans vote for the starters, there are some flaws in the system.

  • The voting starts too early. Fans can begin voting for the All Star Game in late April. That would be the equivalent of voting for the NFL Pro Bowl after week 2 of the NFL season. It’s far to early see a fair sample size from players. This is particularly harsh on players who tend to start slowly. David Ortiz of the Red Sox had an absolutely horrible April before bouncing back with a fantastic May.  Maybe start the voting at the All Star break.
  • The ballot is static. You’ll always see names on the ballot that don’t belong there (such as Teagarden). Once MLB sets the ballot, they don’t change it, even if a different player emerges as the starter for that team. Want to vote for the new guy? You’ll need to write him in.
  • The ease of multiple ballots renders the process meaningless. You can cast 25 ballots per email address, and MLB makes it very simply to duplicate your ballot. I can very easily spawn new email addresses, and could vote thousands of times in the course of a day, if I wanted to. But what’s the point? Where does this cross the line from “fan” to “person who is trying to game the system”? Granted, ballot box stuffing goes back a long time, but this makes it even easier. It would be nice if voting was a bit more limited.
  • Too much “homer” voting. Certainly fans should vote for their favorite players … if they are having a reasonably good year. Really, though, don’t vote for Teagarden just because you’re a Rangers fan or Ken Griffey Jr. (3rd in DH voting ahead of the aforementioned Ortiz) just because you remember The Kid being a stud in the ’90s. Seriously, Griffey was hitting .184 when he retired. I’ll return the favor by not voting for Dexter Fowler (demoted by the Rockies earlier in the month).
  • The rosters are too big. In an effort to make nearly everyone an All-Star, rosters have been expanded to 34 players for each league. In a regular baseball game, rosters are 25 players. The unwieldly size makes life difficult for the managers, as they try to wedge as many players into the game as possible.
  • The rule that each team must have a representative. Honestly, a lot of teams have sucky players by choice. Pittsburgh Pirates, I’m looking at you. Why reward player simply because a team’s bad personnel decisions have made him the best of a group of mediocre players? Sorry, but the tallest sunflower is not a redwood, even if it’s the tallest sunflower in the field.

Baseball’s Super Bowl

July 14, 2009

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Today is one of my favorite days of the entire year.  Major League Baseball’s All Star game is tonight.

There are many fans who don’t watch the All Star Game.  Many fans prefer the made-for-TV thrill of the home run derby over the actual game itself.  To me, this is quite simply blasphemy.

Growing up without cable TV, the only teams I ever saw on TV were the Cubs and whoever the Cubs were playing (on the rare occasion that there was a game on network television).  The All Star Game was the one day during they year when I would get to watch the brightest of baseball’s stars shine on the national stage.  Cal Ripken, George Brett, Kirby Puckett, Mark McGwire, Bo Jackson – what a great spectacle to see!

These days, I do have cable TV and am able to keep up on players by watching Baseball Tonight and Sports Center.  (Am I the only person who has the Baseball Tonight theme song as the ring tone on their cell phone?)  Nonetheless, the All Star Game remains a hallowed event for me.  I elevate it to a sports status that is second to baseball’s opening day – ahead of the baseball playoffs, the Super Bowl, Olympics, and the NCAA basketball tournament.

Dictator Selig suggest that we should watch the game “because it counts” – since MLB awards the All Star Game winner home field advantage in the World Series (a moronic idea, in my opinion).  When did it cease to count?  I have always cheered lustily for my beloved National League to throttle the hated American League – and I will continue to do so until you pry the baseball out of my cold, dead hands.