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Monday, July 05, 2004

Various Thoughts on the All-Star Game

First, does anyone care what really happens in the All-Star game anymore? Does anyone watch it? Is it watchable? Yes, like everyone else, SportsProf likes to watch the fanfare surrounding the event, most particularly the introduction of the players. I won't deny that it's an honor for a player to be chosen to the squad; it does mean something, perhaps even a great deal. But the game itself? It starts rather late (which is bad for baseball if it really cared about attracting kids to watch the game), and it ends late. It's great to see players from various generations mixing, as it waiting to see who got named to the team. Sportsprof only wishes that somehow there was more excitement to the game itself.

Second, don't start with, "well, the League that wins the game will gain the team that represents it in the World Series home field advantage." Like I am sure that members of the Red Sox really care if somehow they were to give the Yankees home field advantage. They'd rather drink hemlock. The baseball men (as opposed to the Moneyball disciples) will swear that it means something, but they're also the people who think that Bud Selig has been an exemplary commissioner. Funny that while baseball is agog about steroids and human growth hormone, because they don't seem to care too much about marijuana, and that's what the supporters of the "game means something now" rule have to be smoking.

Third, the selections. How come Bobby Abreu didn't get the NL players more excited about his season than Moises Alou, for whom the NL players voted? Let's guess, it's kind of like voting in American politics. Say you're from New Hampshire and you voted for Sununu the younger for U.S. Senate because his father's name rang a bell with the Bush the 41st administration. Well, then, you might have voted for Moises for the same reason, because, well, Alous have always been in the All-Star game. But don't start about how he's better than Bobby Abreu. No shot there. Alou is having a good season, but Abreu is having a better one. Now Abreu is in the five-player vote-off that Major League Baseball provides for the fans. Great if you're the player chosen, a bit humiliating if you lose the balloting and really deserve to be there anyway. Hard to say who else should have gone who didn't get selected. For the Phillies, they got Thome because it's hard not to name Thome, but Jack McKeon doesn't like the Broad Street bunch that much so he wasn't going to go out of his way to name a second player. Great fuel for what should be an interesting pennant race among the Mets, Marlins and Phillies.

Fourth, when was the last time that two Milwaukee Brewers made the All-Star team? And didn't take a front office revolt and the relinquishing of control by Bud Selig's family to lift the jinx? Congratulations to Ben Sheets and Dan Kolb for being named to the All-Star team. They both deserve it.

Fifth, kudos (and not kudus) to Johnny Estrada, the Braves' starting catcher who has had some career misfortune backing up both Mike Lieberthal and Javy Lopez. Estrada is hitting the heck out of the ball (average about .325), has a good on-base percentage and is throwing out about 40% of the runners trying to steal (which, of course, also might mean that the Braves' pitchers are decent at holding runners, but let's not rain on Estrada's parade). Also, he's probably the lowest-paid player to make the All-Star game, earning a miserly $312,500.

Sixth, what trades remain to be made in Major League Baseball? Will Randy Johnson agree to be dealt? Will the Pirates unload Kris Benson, or are they primed to make a run? SportsProf thinks the perennial also-rans that find themselves in contention would be fools to make any trades while they are still in contention. Those teams have credibility issues with their fans already, and they'd be crazy to harm their rosters at this point.

So let the debate begin as to who should have made the All-Star rosters and who should not have. And, Lance Carter, where are you this year?


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