Monday, July 7, 2008

I'm not grumpy, I promise

I have tried, honestly, I have. I have tried so hard to give Bud Selig and Major League Baseball a chance to do something right. They just refuse.

The latest case in baseball's walking case of Idiocy, comes in the All Star selections. It happens every year, where someone is unhappy about his/her favorite players being snubbed for the game. I'm not here to gripe about players that were snubbed. I'm more upset that players from 2 teams take up 14 of the 64 available spots for the Mid-Summer Classic.

7 Boston Red Sox, and 7 Chicago Cubs highlight the AL and NL rosters.

7 apiece?

I find it hard to believe that 7 of the 25 players that make up the Cubs roster (and Boston's as well) are among the best in an entire league at their given position. For instance, Chicago catcher Geovany Soto is 5th among the NL catchers in batting average alone, and he will start behind the plate, becoming the first NL rookie to do so at that position. Yadier Molina (STL), Russel Martin (LA), Brian McCann (ATL), and Benji Molina (SF) are hitting at higher clips (albeit slightly), than Soto. Soto and McCann's numbers are very VERY close, so how does Soto get the start over McCann? Maybe, since the Braves are 6 games back of Philadelphia, that must make Soto the better catcher.

Or, maybe not. The fan vote got Soto in ahead of McCann, and when you compare the baseball fans of the Cubs to the Braves, Cub-Nation has them outnumbered.

There are a lot of correct decisions made for this All Star game, but there are some real clunkers, too. Boston has 4 starters named, among them David Ortiz. What kind of season is Big Papi having? How about nothing since June 3rd, when Boston placed him on the DL. Why is he even being considered for votes, especially after he went down with the injury? He's hitting .252 this season in 54 games played. Mind you, Ortiz won't play because he's still recovering from the wrist injury, and Milton Bradley (TX) will take his DH spot. Still, this is a case of fan voting gone wrong.

The players also had a say in who is going to Yankee Stadium, and there is truly one selection that even Selig has to wonder about.

Jason Varitek is in, voted by the players, as a reserve catcher.


Varitek is hitting a Bob Eucker-esque .218 with 70 strikeouts this season. Oh yeah, I gotta have THAT GUY on my All Star bench. Maybe the AL needed a bullpen catcher. That has to be the way he got on this squad. Meanwhile, a guy like A.J. Pierzynski (yes, he's a White Sox player, and I am a White Sox guy), is left behind. What's A.J. doing this season? 33 RBI, 7 HR, a .296 average (his best since 2006), and 35 whiffs.

By the way, for the mathematically challenged, 35 is HALF of 70.

Varitek got in by the players which can only mean that the overall MLB family simply does not like Pierzynski.

This, too, is another flaw in the system.

Manager's make selections to fill out roster spots, and the fans also get ANOTHER say in the matter with the "final vote", conducted online. Among the AL players up for the final roster spot--Jermaine Dye (CHI), Brian Roberts (BAL), Jason Giambi (NY), Jose Guillen (KC), and Evan Longoria (TB). While I would love Dye to be selected by the fans, I would vote for Longoria. Why?

Well, here's why. The team with the best overall record in the majors has just 2 representatives--Pitcher Scott Kazmir, and catcher Dioner Novarro (who?). The Rays have had a great year, thanks to some great pitching, and timely hitting, but Navarro is not their best player, in spite of a.318 average. He's driven in 33 runs, with 4 HR's this season, in 63 games. Longoria, in 77 games, has 52 RBI, 16 HR's, and has been far more valuable to the Rays success.

I understand there are lots of ways things like this can go, it is just frustrating that players get shut out of something as special as the All Star game because of oversight.

For all of my complaining about this, I should have a solution, right? Well, I don't. It's an imperfect system for a game of imperfections. Umpires make mistakes, managers make mistakes, players make errors. The imperfection of baseball, and the games ability to make us wring our hands over close losses, get mad at All Star snubs, despise bad Commissioners, and curse bad trades makes it all, well, perfect.

Congrats to Raleigh native Josh Hamilton on his All Star selection. His amazing comeback story gets new chapters written every day. Drafted 1st overall, he fought injuries and then addictions. He leads the planet in RBI, and for me personally, I couldn't be happier for him. I covered him at Athens Drive H.S. when I worked in Raleigh. he was a good kid then, and I think he is still a good man. I hated to see him wallowing through those dark days, but luckily, he found the light switch in time. Nice to see the lights shining brightly on him, for good reasons now.

Kyle Busch won the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona on Saturday, but my pick of Tony Stewart was looking pretty good, until he simply couldn't drive anymore, due to flu-like symptoms. I wouldn't have changed my pick, even if I knew he was ill. Being taken out of that car 72 laps into the 160 lap race likely made him feel worse than whatever sickness was sapping his body of strength. Stewart is a racer, and he'd sooner cut off his arms than be taken out of a race car. Once he's healthy, he'll be a threat to win. A lot.

Hope everyone had a good holiday weekend. We'll chat again on Tuesday.

Mike Solarte

1 comment:

Wes Wilson said...

You can make an argument that not as many Cubs belong on the All-Star team, but you make it for the wrong player. Soto belongs. He leads all MLB catchers in RBI, is a point shy of McCann for second in OPS. At the very least, he's been the second best catcher in all of baseball this year (not just the NL,) and deserves an All-Star spot.

Kerry Wood, second in the NL in saves, belongs. So do Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster, who have combined for 10 wins each while sporting ERAs of 2.84 and 3.13.

Your argument should be with the rest of the Cubs. Aramis Ramirez is having a great season... but he's the third best third basemen in the NL this year, trailing the oft-injured Chipper Jones and David Wright. I could still see him going as long as Wright and Chipper do.

The real problem is with the outfielders. Kosuke Fukudome has been a great addition to the Cubs this year, but he is not an All-Star. There are about 15 outfielders have years that match or surpass his production. And Soriano would likely deserve to be an All-Star... but he's been injured. Enough said.

Anyway, I tend to agree with your argument, and there is no way any All-Star team should have Jason Varitek, but Soto is definitely an All-Star this year by every definition of the word.