Monday, July 03, 2006

ALL STAR SNUBS... APPLAUSE FOR FLAWS?

With little doubt, managers of the All-Star games have far too much power when it comes to slicing and dicing their would-be "Dog & Pony Show" rosters.
Look, I get the fact that Ozzie Guillen earned his managerial berth by taking his White Sox to, and through, the World Series. But, managing the AL team IS recognition in and of itself. Without a single Series winning White Sock named to the AL squad Guillen, who must answer to his team when the All-Star break concludes, was put in an awkward position. Therefore, I understand his motivation. However, six Sox? Three pairs of Chicago players? (The fans, with their 1 player allotment, apparently voted for a 7th White Sox player; C A.J Pierzynski) That is where I draw the line. No, no, actually I will go quite a bit further to draw my line. Ozzie, who very recently suffered from a serious case of "Foot in Mouth Disease," appointed;
Mark Buehrle: Buehrle sports a 9-5 record, with 3.86 ERA and a WHP of 1.31. Coming off of Sunday's 10 earned run loss... I will cut the 27 year-old some slack as he had reeled off 3 straight W's prior to the shellacking and won 6 of his last 10 outings.
Jose Contreras: Although he's been hit hard in each of his last 3 starts, Contreras is 8-0 with an ERA of 3.54 and a miniscule WHP of 1.18. No pitcher was more dominant over the 1st half, and even though he's allowed an average of 5 ERs each of the last 3 games... the Cuban defector has also averaged 8 Ks per game over that same span.
Bobby Jenks: An elite "shut-it/slam-it" Closer who started the season off in Guillen's dog-house, Jenks's Fastball can brush triple-diggies' and his control is generally impeccable. With 25 Saves, a sub 2.45 ERA, just 1 Blown Save, and 43 Ks in 37.1 innings pitched... I have a hard time knocking this particular selection.
Jermaine Dye: The 32 year-old Outfielder is swatting .311/20/57, with a Slugging % of .606.
Paul Konerko: Cruising along at a .314/20/63 pace, I concede that it's tough to argue Konerko's place.
Jim Thome: Forget his BA for the moment, the hands-down "AL Comeback Player if the Year" has already put 27 balls into the cheap-seats and has plated 68 teammates.

So... do you fault Ozzie Guillen or do you question the system that allows him to remake the roster in his teams' image? "Let them eat cake" is what the All-Star selection process seems to convey to the fans that "turn-out" and "tune-in" to the ONLY sport whose mid-season starfest impacts the post-season.
But alas, the problems run deeper than the El Nino current. The fans, who quite arguably should enjoy some ownership over Baseball's All-Star game, don't always select players based upon merit. Instead, many use name recognition as an All Star's sole criteria. And don't you doubt me! Sure, there are literally dozens of savvy fans (those of you who read this Blog, as a "for instance : P), but how else to explain the egregious omission of hurlers Curt Schilling (10-2, 3.54 ERA, 102 Ks and just 14 BBs in 114.1 IP) Francisco Liriano (this seasons' "King" Felix, the young Twin has a 9-1 record, boasts a sub-2 ERA, and has punched-out a whopping 94 batters in just 81.1 IP!), or Justin Verlander (contending with Liriano and the Red Sox's Jonathan Papelbon for Rookie of the Year honors, Verlander is 10-4 with a 3.14 ERA, he's allowed more than 4 runs just twice over his 16 starts, and has played a HUGE role in Detroit Baseball revival)?
Those glaring All-Star oversights represent merely the pitchers. Other significant snubs include;
Travis Hafner (.313/22/66 and no invite? It's a cold, cold world!), Nomar Garciaparra (the hands-down NL "Comeback Player of the Year," Nomah's hitting the ball as well as he ever has as evidenced by his semi-preposterous .363 BA), Brad Hawpe (a breakout .309/15/46 campain impresses no one, apparently), Adam Dunn (26 Homers and 52 Ribbies' just can't offset his .224 average), Raul Ibanez (.286/18/65... the Mariners field few All-Star caliber athletes), and the speedy Carl Crawford (.315 BA and 27 thieved bags... perhaps Carl still takes one too many games off?)

It's apparent, and has been for some time, that the All-Star selection process needs to be revisited. There are too many oversights and too many aging "fan favorites" who get bids their production doesn't warrant. While I'm not prepared to urge a complete overhaul... something's gotta' give.

Any ideas, Bud?

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