07 July 2005

Pre-MLB 2005 All-Star Game Notes...

Last Man Standing Running...

The winners of MLB's "Final Man" votes for each league were announced yesterday, with Astros starter Roy Oswalt beating out Trevor Hoffman, Billy Wagner, Brandon Webb and Brett Myers for the NL honor. Oswalt's 11-7 record belies his 15 Quality starts and a 2.44 ERA that would be leading the NL if not for the ridiculous seasons that fellow All-Stars Roger Clemens (1.41) and Dontrelle Willis (1.89) are having. He is a deserving candidate.

Chicago outfielder and speed-demon Scott Podsednik beat out Hideki Matsui, Torii Hunter, Carl Crawford and most notably, Yankees captain Derek Jeter for the AL final berth. I don't know if it was planned to use either all pitchers or all position players for the selection process, but if it was, kudos to MLB for getting something right. Creating a ballot like that provides a fairer selection, giving the fans more of an apples-to-apples comparison for their voting processes.

What may not be fair is the presence of multiple players from the same team on that ballot. Brett Myers and Billy Wagner surely siphoned some of the Philly Phan votes that the other would have gotten if only one of them had been presented as an option, though Oswalt was clearly the most deserving of the lot, and is a fine selection. But in the AL, where Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui probably split the Yankee fan vote, the result was a surprise victory by a heretofore, and dare I say, deservedly unheralded Pale Hose leadoff man.

Podsednik is leading the world in steals, with 41, which are 13 more than his closest MLB rival, Rafael Furcal, who doesn't play in the AL anyway. Carl Crawford, with 26 steals, is his closest Junior Circuit competitor, and is actually a better player than Podsednik, with eight triples and nine homers, compared to Podsednik's zero and zero. He's got a decent batting average (for the moment, he hit .244 last year), but doesn't walk much and has, very literally, no power at all, so the speed is all he's got. Seventeen RBIs usually don't get you an All-Star berth where I come from.

Jeter, for his part, is hitting .310, and is on a pace for 20 homers, 20 steals, 130 runs and nearly 200 hits, and would therefore have been a much more deserving All-Star candidate. Ten years from now, we'll look back on the 2005 All-Star rosters and at Jeter's final 2005 stats and wonder why he was left off the squad, just as we can look back at the 1993 All-Star Game and wonder why Greg Maddux, in the midst of a 20-win season in which he would win the second of four concecutive Cy Young Awards, wasn't there. (Answer: He was only 8-8, despite his 2.83 ERA at the Break, and had just pitched seven innings on Sunday.) In Jeter's case though, the answer is that too many decisions are made by the underinformed fans, for the sake of drumming up interest in the game, and at the expense of rewarding the truly deserving players.

Vote Early, Vote Often, Vote Undeserving...

Half a century ago, then-commissioner Ford Frick intervened and kicked two players off the NL All-Star squad, when it became apparent that the Cincinnati Reds fans were stuffing the ballot box. Certainly today's commisioner doesn't have that kind of power, but I think Bud Selig ought to be able to make changes if necessary. Cliff Floyd, Pat Burrell and Ken Griffey, to name a few, are sitting home to watch the game on TV while Carlos beltran, with a .267 batting average and nine lousy homers is starting the game?

If the commissioner can't make a simple little change like that, what good is he? C'mon, Bud, you're the commissioner, right? SO commission somebody to take Beltran's place. Give him his All-Star bonus, as it's not his fault he was selected, but then pick someone else to start in his stead. There must be at least half a dozen NL outfielders who wouldn't embarass the team to be a part of it. Be a man. Pick one, and send Beltran packing, so he can rehab the alleged hamstring injury that's gotten him so much slack in the NY press.

Kenny Rogers: Not Coward of the County

I heard a refreshing soundbite this morning: An apology that actually sounded like an apology. Not, "I'm sorry you felt that way," or "I'm sorry this happened," or "I'm sorry I got caught,", but an actual "I'm sorry I did this wrong thing, and I don't have an excuse." Kenny Rogers held a press conference yesterday in which he said,

"I have been around this game for over 20 years and I prepare myself every day to control my emotions and act accordingly. In this instance, I failed miserably...I am deeply disappointed and embarrassed with myself for my inability to rise above the situation no matter how it became.""

His acts of two weeks ago were simply wrong, but give him credit for having the courage to take ownership of the situation. Rogers did something wrong, and there are natural consequences for that: He was suspended 20 games, which will cause him to miss 5 starts or so, and he's got to pay a fine and will probably face criminal charges. I think that's plenty. His selection to the All-Star game is a separate issue, one that should not be confused with or tainted by his other issues. Let him go, let him play, and if you're in the media, let him alone. This story will go away when the reporters stop making it something more than it is.

"This One Counts...2?"

I mentioned a year ago that MLB was going to have trouble coming up with more slogans with "Counts" in them. They didn't even bother to follow it up with "No, Really, We Mean it This Time" or something to that effect. Apparently they saw my article and have stopped trying. With the same exact slogan as last year's game, we will be reminded not only of the inneptitude of the individuals who run MLB, but also their total lack of creativity! Good job, guys.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: