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LIVE In-Game All Star Game Updates

For the first time ever, Strotty’s Blog will be live blogging during the 2009 All Star Game in Busch Stadium in St. Louis.  Here’s to hoping it goes well.  All times are central standard time.

7:05: Welcome to Strotty’s Blog Live Blogging Updates in what hopes to be the first of many live updates.  I hope you have fun watching the game and keep updated on my blog as the Midsummer Classic goes on.

7:10: I have to say it was pretty cool watching President Obama talk to all of the players in the clubhouse.  Pretty amazing when you think of the spectrum all of those guys are on.  Players are being introduced right now.  Biggest cheer of the night easily goes to Pujols, while the stadium was primarly boos when Ted Lilly was introduced.  No comment.

7:26: The presidents doing the introduction for the game tonight was pretty awesome.  Really makes you think about who the real all stars are.  Now it’s time to play ball!  Here’s my prediction:  National League jumps out to a big lead before the American League overtakes it.  A late push by the National League gives them a win for the first time in 11 years.

7:38: Primarily cheers from the crowd when President Obama came out but I could hear some boos as well.  Fox’s outstanding camera work didn’t let me see if he made it to Pujols’ mitt but I guess he did.  Nice job, Prez.  Can we play yet?

7:47: American League definitely sporting better pitching, but I’ll take the National League’s lineup seven days a week.  Ironic that Lincecum gets the first pitch tonight after being the only player not to participate in last year’s game.  Yeah he was sick but still.

7:53: Didn’t realize just how impressive Ichiro’s resume JUST in the MLB is.  Braun’s in right field even though he was the leading vote getter in the outfield?  I guess he has the best arm out of him, Victorino, and Ibanez but still weird to see him out there.  Ichiro single and Jeter gets hit.  Here we go again, NL.

7:59: Ouch.  Pujols makes an error that costs the National League a run and Hamilton just put another one on the board with a fielder’s choice.  Michael Young grounds out to end the inning but the AL goes up 2-0 after half an inning.  The “Stay Forever Young” Pepsi commerical is just awesome.

8:07: 1-2-3 for the National League in the first.  Pretty impressive when you realize that 1-2-3 is Hanley-Utley-Pujols.  Lincecum is out for the second inning and is going up against Roy Halladay, who is wearing Evan Longoria’s helmet with no logo.  Fouled off two fastballs but looked absolutely silly on a curveball.  Moving on.

8:18: President Obama and I now agree on two things: gun control and not cheering for the Cubs.

8:24: Yadier Molina just tied the game up and is it obvious that Tim McCarver really doesn’t like Barack Obama? Oh, and Prince Fielder, the most dangerous pinch hitter in the history of the game, just gave the NL a lead.  Heir to the throne does it again…

8:32: Pujols does his best Hoover vacuum impression that inning and Ryan Franklin goes 1-2-3 in the top of the third.  Mark Buehrle will start the third inning for the AL.

8:37: I find it really ironic that the fastest paced pitcher in the game (Buehrle) is going up against the slowest paced hitter (Braun).  Haha, Buehrle was looking quite antsy on the mound.  Alas, Braun grounds out to shortstop and Buehrle goes 1-2-3 in less than four minutes.  Too good.

8:41: Dan Haren is this year’s most underrated pitcher.  2.01 ERA and .188 BAA?  Unbelievable.  Out of chips and salsa. What to do, what to do…

8:47: As much as I love pitcher’s duels during the regular season, I want to see some offense and there’s not a whole lot going on right now.  Hopefully Ibanez and Wright will change that next inning against the Royals’ Zach Greinke.

8:54: Just saw Prince Fielder absolutely destroy some Cubs’ catcher on a commercial for “The Bigs 2” videogame.  That pretty much sold me on the game…

9:01: Chase Utley just made the play of the night so far getting Crawford out at second on a groundball from Ichiro.  That got me thinking…would Crawford on first and Ichiro batting be the hardest double play to turn on any two guys in the game?  Joe Buck just said that 30 players are making their first all-star appearance.  Bud Selig should be VERY happy with that number.

9:04: Question: Does anyone go to the opposite field better than Joe Mauer?  Answer: No.  Tied up at three as Jeter scores for the AL.

9:11: End of five innings and we are all tied up.  With both team’s pitching staffs probably deciding the game, my guess is that the AL comes out on top.

9:14: Trevor Hoffman comes in and gets Adam Jones on two pitches.  Only Hoffman can make an All Star look silly on a 79 mph pitch.  Love him.  Check that, five pitches and three outs.  GOTTA love him.

9:22: Who was the creepy guy that Fox just showed right before Justin Upton grounded out to shortstop?  Either way, we’re done with six and all knotted up.  Both teams still have a good amount of pitchers so I doubt Maddon and Manuel will be sweating this one out.

9:34: Carl Crawford makes the absolute play of the game, robbing Rockies’ outfielder Brad Hawpe of a go-ahead home run in left.  Tejada also smacks one to the warning track but just a long out.  Home field in the World Series comin’ down to the end…love it.

9:44: Granderson looks so good when he swings the bat.  His one-out triple has the American League in good shape.  Victor Martinez draws the intentional pass to set up the double play ball for Adam Jones.

9:48: Adam Jones, who has no reason to care which league gets home field advantage in the Fall Classic, breaks the tie with a sacrifice fly to deep right field.  4-3 and now Heath Bell is on the line for the loss.

9:56: Joe Nathan has nasty stuff.

10:01: Orlando Hudson with an RBI single off of Joe Nathan has Adrian Gonzalez to third with two outs.  The St. Louis native Ryan Howard steps to the plate with a chance to tie or take the lead.  This time it counts!

10:08: Howard swings and misses at a pitch that went 60 feet, 2 inches and the threat is over.  Sandman in half an inning and the drought should be 12 years running.  So close NL!

10:12: K-Rod goes 1-2-3 in nice fashion and now the NL has three outs left against Mariano Rivera who has not given up a run or walk in seven All Star Game innings.  He also has three saves.  He is also not human.

10:21: Surprise, surpirse.  The AL wins again.  If anyone stayed with me through the three hours and 16 minutes, thanks a lot!  Guess game three of the World Series at at Miller Park is fine!

July 14, 2009 Posted by | All Star Game, Baseball, MLB | , , , | 1 Comment

Brewers Will Be Well Represented During All-Star Festivities

Over the next three days, Busch Stadium in St. Louis will be called home to the best of the best as players take part in the Futures Game, the Home Run Derby, and the 80th All Star Game.  In years past, one or two Milwaukee Brewers would make the trip to the Midsummer Classic while the rest of the team took their extended vacation while watching the game on the television.

This year, the Brewers will be one of eight teams to have a participant in all three of the events.

On Sunday, AAA-Nashville shortstop Alcides Escobar and A-Wisconsin second baseman Brett Lawrie will participate in the Futures Game to show off their talent and give Brewers fans a taste of what is to come in both the near future and distant future.

Escobar was called up last September when the Brewers’ roster moved to 40 and went one for two with a double.  In AAA Nashville this year, he has seen his hitting vastly improve as he enters the game with a .296 batting average with three home runs and 28 RBI’s.  He has also contributed 61 runs and 30 stolen bases in the 87 games he has played in this year.  Known for his outstanding glove in the field, Escobar is waiting quietly in the wings behind J.J. Hardy at shortstop.

Lawrie is farther away from The Bigs than Escobar but is showing signs that he could get there soon enough. Playing for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers this year, he is batting .269 with nine home runs and 44 RBI’s.  Considering he is just 19 years old and was moved from catcher to second base in the middle of the year, Lawrie has done pretty well for himself.

Escobar, from Venezuela, and Lawrie, from Canada, will play on the World Roster against the U.S. Roster in the matchup Sunday.  The Brewers have had a very good history with players that have appeared in the Futures Game that includes Ryan Braun (2006), Prince Fielder (2004), Rickie Weeks (2004), Corey Hart (2002), J.J. Hardy (2003), and Yovani Gallardo (2006).

The next night, the fireworks will fly as the Home Run Derby takes place.  Contestants in this year’s derby include Albert Pujols, Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon Inge, Joe Mauer, Carlos Pena, Nelson Cruz, and Milwaukee’s own Prince Fielder.

Hopefully Prince Fielder will fare better in this year's Home Run Derby.

Hopefully Prince Fielder will fare better in this year's Home Run Derby.

This year, Fielder has torched opposing pitchers for 22 home runs and 78 RBI’s.  His slugging percentage is a gaudy .616 and he is getting on base at a .438 mark.  This year’s derby will be Fielder’s second of his career.  Back in 2006, Fielder hit three home runs in the first round but did not advance.

This will be the third straight year that a Brewer will take place in the Home Run Derby, as last year Ryan Braun advanced to the semi-finals hitting 14 home runs in the two rounds he participated in.

Some skeptics believe that participants in the derby mess up their swing after participating, which has led some of the bigger names to pass on the competition.  Braun, who had hit 23 home runs before the All Star Break, hit just 14 after the break in 2008.  In 2007, Fielder hit 29 home runs before the derby, but connected on just 21 after.

Either way, Fielder has found a new stroke to his swing that has his right elbow lower, and the benefits have been easily seen.

Tuesday, Fielder will join fellow teammates Ryan Braun and Trevor Hoffman in the 80th All Star Game.  Braun will start in left field after receiving the most votes in the National League outfield and Fielder will be a reserve behind slugger Albert Pujols.

Hoffman was added to the roster yesterday after Dodgers closer Jonathon Broxton was ruled out of the game due to a toe injury.  It will be Hoffman’s seventh appearance as Fielder and Braun make their second appearances.

Even Rollie Fingers, who played four years in a Brewers jersey, will be participating in the always entertaining Celebrity Softball Game.

All things combined, the Milwaukee Brewers will be represented very well and will look to bring home some hardware as well as a good representation of the ballclub and organization.

July 12, 2009 Posted by | All Star Game, Baseball, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB | , , , , | 1 Comment

Ted Lilly Over Yovani Gallardo an All Star Game Outrage

As I sat at my computer anxiously awaiting Charlie Manuel’s decisions on this year’s National League pitching staff, I wondered whether or not the Phillies’ skipper thought Josh Johnson would make the team.

Would Javier Vazquez sneak in? Who would he choose as the last relief pitcher? One wonder that I did not think I had to consider was whether or not Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee’s ace, would be on this year’s team.

After all, he has one of the most impressive resumes of any pitcher in the National League, has his team in first place, and has done it all under the spotlight of following in C.C. Sabathia and Ben Sheets’ footsteps.

I refreshed the page at brewers.com and saw that Prince Fielder had been chosen as a reserve at first base behind “The Machine”, Albert Pujols. I clicked on the link and scrolled down the list of reserves at each position.

With no big surprises in the American League, I went to the National League pitching staff only to find that Gallardo had been left off the staff while the lone Cubs’ representative, Ted Lilly, had made the squad.

Under Bug Selig’s revisions, one player from every team in the Major Leagues must be represented in the Midsummer Classic. I understand this rule completely and, while I do not agree with it, realize it is there and must be followed.

I had never really cared about the rule because, for the most part, the manager of each team got it right. However, I am taking a stand this year and saying that the rule needs to be changed and that the best thirty three players in each league need to play in the game, regardless of the team they play for.

Lilly is having an average year for a Cubs team that has failed to meet expectations. Going into the year as the sure-fire favorites in the National League Central, the Cubs sit 2.5 games out of first but are barely floating above .500.

Their offense has been one of the worst in the National League this year and no one outside of Derrek Lee was going to sniff the All-Star Game. Because of the outstanding seasons Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Adrian Gonzalez are having thrown in with Manuel coaching the team, Ryan Howard was bound to get in. Lee missed out on making the team.

In the Cubs’ rotation this year, Lilly has been the best and most consistent pitcher, with no one in the bullpen being even remotely close to deserving an All Star bid. It makes sense that he would be the choice for the All Star Game.

However, the fact that Gallardo will watch the game from his television set instead of in the bullpen at Busch Stadium is an outrage and a reason why the rules need to be switched.

Because of baseball's silly rules, Yovani Gallardo will miss this year's All Star Game.

Because of baseball's silly rules, Yovani Gallardo will miss this year's All Star Game.

Let’s take a look at the numbers and see how Manuel could have chosen Lilly over Gallardo as a pitcher in this year’s All Star Game. First and foremost, Gallardo’s ERA sits at 2.75, good for sixth in the National League. Only seven pitchers in the NL have an ERA under three, with four of those making the All Star Game. Lilly’s ERA sits at 3.34, which places him 15th in the National League.

In the same amount of starts, sixteen, and the same amount of innings pitched this year, Gallardo has more strikeouts, 114 to 88, a better opponents’ batting average,.193 to .242, less home runs allowed at 11 to 16, and the aforementioned ERA.

Their WHIP’s are almost identical at 1.13 for Lilly and 1.15 for Gallardo, which all but cancels out the walk differential. Gallardo has walked twice as many batters, at forty six, as Lilly.

Lilly has twelve quality starts compared to Gallardo’s ten, but Gallardo has given up three runs or less in 14 of 16 starts, while Lilly has done so in only 12 of 16 starts.

For some icing on the cake, Gallardo is batting .129 at the plate with two home runs and four RBI’s as compared to Lilly’s .083 batting average with just two RBI’s. In the field, Lilly has five errors to give him a .737 fielding percentage and 15.684 zone rating while Gallardo has zero errors and a 22.071 zone rating.

In case you were wondering, zero errors gives Gallardo a 1.000 fielding percentage.

The difference between Lilly and Gallardo is not night and day, and Lilly has done a pretty good job on the hill for the Cubs this year.

That being said, there is no way one can overlook the performance Gallardo has had this year and say it has been worse than the Chicago lefty.

Once again, the rules say that one player from every team must be represented, and because of that I know why Lilly is in the game. However, something needs to change in order for the game to be more fair.

If the All-Star Game is going to count for something as big as home field advantage in the World Series, then the best players need to be playing in the game.

It goes back to my article saying something needed to change about the game. If a player from every team is going to be represented and fans are able to vote in who they want, make it a fun game meaning nothing, but if the MLB wants this game to mean something, then Gallardo deserves a ticket to St. Louis, not Lilly.

July 5, 2009 Posted by | All Star Game, Baseball, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB | , | Leave a comment

My Take: The National League All Star Team to Date

The Starters

Catcher: Bengie Molina, San Francisco Giants

Molina leads all catchers in the National League with ten home runs and 36 RBI’s and is one of the best defensive catchers in the game. He has commanded a great pitching staff to go along with his offensive numbers and has the Giants flying under the radar.

First Base: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals

This is about as big of a no-brainer as you can have here in taking Pujols. While there are other first basemen having great years, Pujols gets the job done everywhere and is putting up ridiculous numbers with 23 home runs and 58 runs driven in, all while batting .323.

Surprise, Surprise: Albert Pujols will be starting at first base for the NL All Stars.

Surprise, Surprise: Albert Pujols will be starting at first base for the NL All Stars.

Second Base: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies

Utley is also a pretty easy choice here at second base as no one can match his power numbers on offense (15 home runs) and amazing on-base percentage (.490). He does a little bit of everything on offense but has been a little shaky on defense this year with five errors.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins

While the popularity contest is holding strong with Jimmy Rollins leading the votes here, Ramirez is putting together a great year that can not go unnoticed. I have seen him play two series against the Brewers this year and he has been unbeatable.

Third Base: David Wright, New York Mets

While his power numbers are down (just four home runs), Wright is batting .357 and has stolen a ridiculous 18 bases this year. He has been keeping the up-and-down Mets afloat so far and, in my book, slightly edges out Ryan Zimmerman for the starting nod.

Outfield: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

Braun is quietly putting up outstanding numbers that have been overshadowed by Prince Fielder’s MVP-type first half. For the year, Braun has hit 14 home runs and 46 RBI’s while batting .318.

Outfield: Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia Phillies

PED accusations or not, Ibanez has put up monster numbers and, despite going on the DL today, is a sure-fire starter in this year’s All-Star Game. The Phillies’ fans crazy voting numbers and Ibanez’s 21 home runs and 57 RBI’s are a pretty good combo to get a starting nod.

Outfield: Carlos Beltran, New York Mets

After Braun and Ibanez, the third spot in the outfield is up in the air. In the actual fan voting, Philadelphia’s Shane Victorino and even Manny Ramirez are keeping pace with Beltran, but it’s hard to argue against what Beltran has done this year. As always, the five tool center fielder is putting up great numbers and should start in the Midsummer Classic.

Starting Pitcher: Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants

Cain has been dominating this year with a 9-1 record and a 2.39 ERA. While his strikeout numbers aren’t great and he walks a fair amount of batters, he finds ways to get outs and win ballgames. In his starts this year, the Giants are 10-3.

Pitcher: Chad Billingsley, Los Angeles Dodgers

Billingsley has struggled as of late but still continues to be the workhorse for the Dodgers pitching staff. He has posted a 9-3 record with an ERA under three and also struck out over a batter per inning.

Pitcher: Dan Haren, Arizona Diamondbacks

Haren might be the best pitcher with a 5-4 record on the planet, as he boasts a 2.20 ERA and has walked 13 batters in 90 innings. His WHIP stands at 0.81 (no one in the NL has a WHIP under 1.00) and in his four losses, his offense has scored two runs while Haren has given up seven.

Absolutely no one has stopped Matt Cain this year, making him the starting pitcher for the NL.

Absolutely no one has stopped Matt Cain this year, making him the starting pitcher for the NL.

Pitcher: Johan Santana, New York Mets

As bad as his last outing was against the Yankees, Santana is still a sure-fire all star this year. He has struck out 94 batters in just 82 innings while winning eight games already. I’ve mentioned this stat before, but in Santana’s first two losses, he gave up a combined zero earned runs.

Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers

Gallardo has really stepped up his game this year and has become the ace of the first place Brewers. He sports a 7-3 record with a 2.93 ERA and opponents are batting just .193 against him, good for fourth in the National League. Command has been an issue as of late but he has also struck out 85 batters this year.

Relief Pitcher: Francisco Rodriguez, New York Mets

K-Rod has been just as good this year as he was last year and, outside of the number of saves, one could argue he has been better. He has 17 saves on the year with just one blown and sports a 0.56 ERA in 32.1 innings.

Relief Pitcher: Heath Bell, San Diego Padres

When Trevor Hoffman bolted to Milwaukee in the off-season, the biggest question was how the Padres would replace the all-times saves leader. Well, Bell has been every bet as good as Hoffman was and earns his first All Star appearance because of it. He leads the NL with 18 saves and a 1.56 ERA.

Relief Pitcher: Trevor Hoffman, Milwaukee Brewers

Despite missing the first month of the season with a rib injury, Hoffman is still at the top of the leaderboard with 17 saves and a 1.31 ERA. Despite being shaky as of late (a loss and a blown save in his last two appearances), Hoffman has walked just three batters in 20.1 innings and has blown just the one save.

The Back-Ups

Backup Catcher: Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves

McCann leads all National League catchers with a .325 batting average and has six homers on the year to go with 25 RBI’s. These numbers are even more impressive considering he has missed a decent amount of time with injury this year.

Backup First Baseman: Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers

An easy choice here as Fielder is as close to a starting nod over Pujols as anyone ever has been. He leads the Major Leagues with 64 RBI’s and is batting over .300 with 16 home runs. After Ibanez, Fielder is next in line in the MVP talks.

Backup Second Baseman: Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds

Phillips is enjoying a nice year just as long as he keeps his mouth closed (stated the Reds were better than the Brewers after being swept by them…) and is a solid choice as a reserve. He is batting .280 this year with ten home runs, 43 RBI’s and eight stolen bases.

Backup Shortstop: Miguel Tejada, Houston Astros

Where is this Miguel Tejada coming from? On the year, the 35-year-old veteran is batting .342 with six home runs and an NL shortstop-leading 37 RBI’s. His defense is down but his bat has all but mad up for it this year.

Backup Third Baseman: Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals

It would be an understatement to say Zimmerman is the bright spot on a rather dark season for the Nats. Zimmerman has hit 12 home runs this year and leads all third basemen with 42 RBI’s. Zimmerman will easily be the lone rep for Washington.

Backup Outfielder: Nate McClouth, Atlanta Braves

While he is not getting much love from the fan vote, McClouth is putting together an outstanding year. For some reason, the Pirates did not want his ten home runs, 36 RBI’s, nine stolen bases, and gold glove defense. The All-Star roster should suit him just fine this year.

Backup Outfielder: Brad Hawpe, Colorado Rockies

Say what you will about Coors Field, Hawpe is having a fantastic year and deserves to play in the All-Star Game. At .343, Hawpe leads the National League in batting and also has nine home runs and 47 RBI’s to go with it. His 23 doubles also lead the National League.

Everyone talks about Manny in LA's outfield, but Matt Kemp is putting together a great year.

Everyone talks about Manny in LA's outfield, but Matt Kemp is putting together a great year.

Backup Outfielder: Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers

Somewhat of a sleeper pick here, but I love Kemp’s game and believe that he is an All Star this year. He has put his whole repertoire in front of the national spotlight and the results have been eight home runs, 37 RBI’s, 16 stolen bases and a .316 batting average. Kemp ranks first or second in all of those categories for center fielders.

Reserves

Best of the Rest: Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies

Apologies to Adrian Gonzalez, but I give the nod to Howard in this case. Maybe it’s that he got hot too early in the voting or that he plays on the west coast, but I like Howard’s game more and think he deserves this spot. Howard has 19 home runs and 51 RBI’s on the year, so this selection isn’t terribly biased.

Best of the Rest: Freddy Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates

Every team must be represented in the All Star Game, and since Nate McClouth no longer sports the black and gold, Sanchez gets in as the lone representative. On the year, Sanchez is hitting his usual .314 with an on-base percentage of .355 with 36 runs scored.

Best of the Rest: Orlando Hudson, Los Angeles Dodgers

While Hudson has cooled off somewhat, his statline this year has been very solid and has earned himself a spot on the roster. His .310 batting average to go along with a .388 on-base percentage has kept the Dodgers offense rolling without Manny Ramirez. He also sports a .987 fielding percentage, good for third in the NL.

Best of the Rest: Ted Lilly, Chicago Cubs

I have become a huge fan of the North Sider southpaw and he is deserving of an all-star spot this year. At 7-4, he has led one of the best rotations in baseball with a 2.94 ERA and just 20 walks in 85.2 innings.

Best of the Rest: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

Although he has been overshadowed by Cain’s dominating stuff this year, Lincecum has done more than hold his own with a 6-2 record and 112 strikeouts in 96 innings to lead the National League.

Adrian Gonzalez might make the All Star team, but is he really better than Ryan Howard?

Adrian Gonzalez might make the All Star team, but is he really better than Ryan Howard?

Best of the Rest: Jason Marquis, Colorado Rockies

Pitching in Colorado is never easy but Marquis has stepped up to the challenge and done an excellent job. While his numbers are better away from Coors Field, he still has eight wins on the year with an ERA under four.

Best of the Rest: Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins

Johnson might be one of the best pitchers that no one talks about, sporting a 6-1 record with an impressive 2.76 ERA. The Marlins are 11-3 when Johnson takes the hill, and the tall right hander owns a 2.02 ERA at home.

Best of the Rest: Jonathon Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers

Broxton has been crazy good this year with a 6-0 record to go along with 16 saves. The flame thrower has struck out 53 batters in 33 innings, meaning that over half of his outs recorded come by strikeouts.

Fan Vote-In: Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks

Upton, May’s Player of the Month, has been very good this year on an average D-Backs squad. The 21-year-old is batting .308 with 12 home runs and 38 RBI’s and has scored 40 times on the year. He also has four triples and an on-base percentage close to .400 (.391).

Sorry!

Apologies To: Juan Pierre (LAD), Pablo Sandoval (SF), Shane Victorino (PHI), Adrian Gonzalez (SD), Zach Duke (PIT), Johnny Cueto (CIN), Adam Wainwright (STL), Wandy Rodriguez (HOU)

June 18, 2009 Posted by | All Star Game, Baseball, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB | , , , , | Leave a comment

Something Needs to Change About the Midsummer Classic

With the first public announcement of the leaders in this year’s MLB All-Star Game voting, the usuals are out calling for the head of Bud Selig and whichever fans voted for J.J. Hardy over Hanley Ramirez.  Some of the results are mind-boggling (Hardy over Ramirez) while others (Pujols as the top vote-getter) were expected.  My thought is that one of two things needs to be changed in order to make baseball’s All Star Game better for the fans and baseball as a whole.

1. Do Not Make the Game Count For Anything

Starting in 2003, Bud Selig and the MLB announced that the pennant winner of the league that won the All Star Game would receive Home Field Advantage in the upcoming World Series.

OK, so wait a second.  Back in 2004, the St. Louis Cardinals won 105 games in the regular season, good for best in the Major League.  They won their division by an MLB-best 13 games and torched the NL for 162 games.

Yet in Game one of the World Series there they were, sitting in a dugout in Fenway Park, opposite the home team Boston Red Sox who had gone 98-64 that year.  98 wins is a pretty special year and, had it not been for the 101-win Yankees, the Red Sox would have run away with the division.

The reason the Red Sox were able to play at home in Game One was due to a single game that occurred three months and nine days earlier.  The AL had won the All Star Game 9-4 back in July and for some reason that held precedence over the commanding season the Red Birds had.

Albert Pujols cruised the Cardinals to 105 wins in the regular season, yet didn't get home field advantage in the World Series.

Albert Pujols cruised the Cardinals to 105 wins in the regular season, yet didn't get home field advantage in the World Series.

Roger Clemens was the starting pitcher in the game, yet all he was playing for was pride.  His Astros were 10.5 games out of the division lead and had no shot at the playoffs.  Clemens pitched an inning of work and gave up six runs that put the National League in a hole they never got out of.  No sweat off Clemens’ back, but I am sure the three Cardinals starting in the game would have liked to see a little more effort out of him.

Having the game not count for anything will not only reward teams that do well in the regular season, but also justify letting the fans vote.  It seems as though 99.9% of people can not understand why fans are allowed to vote players into the All Star Game. After all, it’s called the All Star Game, so why is J.J. Hardy and his 240 points of batting average starting over Hanley Ramirez?!

The answer is because the most amount of people that care about the All Star Game want to see Hardy.  If the game were to count for nothing, letting the fans vote would be perfectly fine.  People come to the ballpark, some paying thousands to get in, to see their favorite players duke it out in the best All-Star Game of any major sport.  Shouldn’t they get to see who THEY want in the game?  If the weekend wasn’t about the fans we wouldn’t see the Home Run Derby or the Celebrity Softball Game.

If more people want to see Manny Ramirez in the game than Raul Ibanez, despite the huge difference in statistics, then let them.  People that have a problem with it should go vote and try to get whoever they think is deserving into the game.

2. Do Not Let the Fans Vote on the Game

It seems as though baseball enjoys the “This Time It Matters” slogan and are not going to rid of it for quite some time, so what that means is the fan vote needs to go.  Currently, fans vote in the starters of the game while the players vote in pitchers and back-ups at each position.

Because of this, there are not a whole lot of snubs at any position and none really stick out to me.  There has never been a case where an Albert Pujols or a Vladimir Guerrero never got into the game.  However, if the game actually means something as big as home field in the World Series, then the fans are just going to have to sit and watch.

Fans mean everything to sports because, simply put, without them there wouldn’t be anything to play for.  Loyal fans, season ticket holders, and the occasional band-wagon fan love voting their favorite players into the game.  It’s all fun and games as they go online and punch their ballots.

Unfortuantely for the players, it’s not just fun and games anymore.  Sure, players laugh it up on the field and we see antics in the field every year that give us a good chuckle.

Face it, the All Star Game is going to be good either way.

Face it, the All Star Game is going to be good either way.

Ever since 2003, it has meant a whole lot more than just a game in Mid-July where we see our favorite players.  It means playing games one and two in your own backyard instead of enemy territory.  Throw in the Designated Hitter factor into the equation and it becomes all that much more important.

If the game is going to mean something, players need to be the ones to vote in the starters, back-ups and catchers.  You think a guy like James Loney, playing for the first place Dodgers, is going to want anyone but the best player at each position?  Letting the players vote is going field the best team that each league can put out and will assure that the game is competitive.

Which One Would Work Better?

I am a proponent of letting the fans vote and seeing the players play that they wanted in.  It’s not like the fans are voting in Bobby Scales and Colby Rasmus while Ryan Braun and Chase Utley sit at home watching the game.  Every year the game features the best players in each league (more or less, minus one or two snubs) and turns out to be a great game.

The fans love it and keep coming back for more every year, so the selection process is not that tainted.  Second, I hate that the game means so much in regards to the playoffs.  I realize that the MLB wanted the game to mean more so that more people would be focused on who won, but in reality that’s more of a cheap ploy than a resolution.  Let’s let the fans see who they want in the game and let the teams decide home field advantage.

May 30, 2009 Posted by | All Star Game, Baseball, MLB | , | Leave a comment