Monday, July 11, 2011

Anybody Home?

What if they held an All Star Game and no players came?

We're not there yet but this year will see more elected players fail to perform than any time in the history of the mid-season "showcase". Fifteen players have withdrawn from the game, among them several starting pitchers who are ineligible to play because they pitched the previous Sunday. There's an actual rule for that circumstance.

A few elected players are on the Disabled List and unable to perform. Some are nursing injuries and could use the rest.

Who knows, maybe a few were elected but would rather take the kids to Great Adventure or fix that leaking downspout.

Whatever the reasons, the post-election movement of players on and off the roster has never been so dramatic. The question is, does anyone care?

The players' union chief has stated publicly all the excused absences are legitimate. Bloggers and their commenters throughout the land are divided. Bud Selig is oblivious to it all but one wonders how long his honor (with a decidedly deliberate lower case "h") will sit by and watch the contest he's tried to pump up become the only game of musical chairs where those circling don't want a seat!

Selig tried to inject life into the game a few seasons back when it was decided the winning league in the game would get home field advantage for the World Series. That, he insured all, would make the players put a little more effort into the proceedings. It sure does make a difference if the NL wins home field advantage if you are a Phillies fan. Four potential games, including the first two of the Series, without a DH is a distinct advantage.

But in this era of astronomical salaries, incentive clauses and bonuses for election (are there caveats that a player must be elected and play to collect, one wonders?), players put far more stake in their health and future contract negotiations than a mere showcase.

Derek Jeter should be this year's poster boy for all the changes that have taken place. Chasing 3000 hits and struggling at the plate most of the season, Jeter was injured and went on the DL. Still, he was elected the starting shortstop for the AL, a result not unusual for fan favorites whose production has nevertheless dropped. But Jeter returned from the DL, achieved his milestone, going five for five the day he passed the magic number, and then announced he would take a pass in the All Star game for a chance to rest. The argument made for electing aging stars over more deserving players has always been the fans deserve to see their heroes one more time. Apparently, the feelings aren't mutual.

The solution is to junk the game altogether and go back to the rotation system for home field advantage in the Series. Come to think of it, junk the DH, Interleague Play and just about every other "innovation" his honor put in place, upheld, sustained or dreamed up. Nobody seems to like them but him.


Matty said...

I never did agree with playing it in the middle of the season. For starters, you have the fan base voting not more than two months into the season. So then, whoever is hot at the beginning of the season is an all-star? Why not wait until the season is over, then open the voting. Now you can vote for players based on their season long performance, not just over the first few months. Then play the game either after the world series ends, or at the beginning of the next season.

Tom Goodman said...

Matty, I'd just like to see them get rid of it. They won't play after the season when everyone, especially the Series participants, are dead tired and they won't play before because no one would care about last season's heroes. Throw the bum out!