Week in review: Why the All-Star Game is meaningless


Buster Posey will start for the National League in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, as he should, overtaking Yadier Molina in the final days of voting.

Molina didn’t even make the team, as he shouldn’t have, since reserves Wilson Ramos and Jonathan Lucroy are better, to say nothing of J.T. Realmuto and Derek Norris, who are both better than Molina and didn’t make the team.

That didn’t stop Cardinals announcers, in the days leading up to the end of the voting, from beseeching viewers to make sure they voted for Molina.

Cardinals announcers weren’t alone in their advocacy. Anywhere you turned in the last couple of weeks broadcasters of all teams urged viewers to vote for their team’s jersey, no matter who wore it and no matter if they deserved it.

Astros announcers urged votes for George Springer in the final portion and cited an Astros’ fan website’s alleged deal with a Rockies’ fan web site to trade votes for Trevor Story for votes for Springer.

The only upset there was a player from Chicago wasn’t involved.

Cubs voters didn’t need any help. The NL will start an infield of Cubs, which wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t so many shortstops better than Addison Russell. The latter isn’t bad, but he’s 10th in OPS among NL shortstops and sixth in WAR, which means a lot of better ones are off for four days.

And MLB wonders about the credibility of the voting.

Almost 60 years ago Commissioner Ford Frick took the vote away from fans when they elected seven Reds to start the 1957 All-Star Game. Now MLB encourages and abets what used to be farce.

(The 1957 Reds finished fourth but had All-Star starters elected in catcher Ed Bailey, second baseman Johnny Temple, shortstop Roy McMillan, third baseman Don Hoak and outfielders Frank Robinson, Wally Post and Gus Bell; Frick used executive powers to replace the latter two with also-rans Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. First baseman George Crowe, who slugged 31 homers, somehow got beaten out by Stan Musial.)

Fan voting is only one reason I won’t be interested in or watching Tuesday’s game. What used to be a celebration, eagerly anticipated, is now overhyped and something to be endured.

The All-Star Game started as something significant; with the buildup of lounge acts like the Home Run Derby, it has been reduced to something trivial.

Anyone remember who won  last year’s All-Star Game?

The All-Star Game was once a rare exposure to the other league, and starters — even with 25- or 28-man rosters — played most of the game. Today the reserves complain if they’re not used, so almost everyone plays, even with 34-man rosters, and at the end, MLB should provide orange slices and a drink.

Tuesday’s game will probably start with Chris Sale pitching to Bryce Harper in the first inning but might be decided in the late innings by Brad Brach pitching to Odubel Herrera.

That hardly seems what Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward had in mind in 1933 when his idea begat the All-Star Game.

For years Ward’s idea produced great moments, from Carl Hubbell striking out the side twice to Ted Williams’ and Johnny Callison’s game-winning homers to Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse to Reggie Jackson hitting the light tower in Detroit.

The most famous recent moment was the tie game of 2002 in Commissioner Bud Selig’s own park in Milwaukee, after which Selig decided to give the game status by awarding home field in the World Series to the winning league.

That was foolish, of course, since it was no more relevant to which team should have home field than which league hit more home runs. But being as Selig owned the Brewers before being commissioner, that would never be a problem for his former team.

I used to work with a Braves fan who claimed interest in the All-Star Game because he wanted to ensure that his team had home field for the World Series.

I doubt even he’ll be watching this year.

Also of note:

  • Nick Markakis hit two home runs in his first 318 at-bats this year. He then hit two in 11 innings against the Cubs on Thursday and then another the next day against the White Sox. He now has three home runs in his last 18 at-bats. And on the Braves, his five home runs have him tied for third.
  • Chris Archer leads MLB in losses with 12 and is second in the AL with 130 strikeouts, behind David Price. He could lead the AL: in strikeouts and losses.
  • No one has lost 20 games since Detroit’s Mike Maroth lost 21 in 2003, but seven pitchers are halfway there at the break. One is Archer, and one is the Mets’ Matt Harvey, who won’t pitch against because of surgery. The other five who have all lost 10: Annibal Sanchez, James Shields, Drew Smyly, Chase Anderson and Jerad Eickhoff.
  • The four leaders in MLB in batters fanned are all National Leaguers, where the pitchers hit: Max Scherzer (164), Jose Fernandez (154), Madison Bumgarner (146) and Clayton Kershaw (145). Of course, Kershaw hasn’t thrown a pitch since June 26.
  • The top two batters in strikeouts are both American Leaguers: Chris Davis (122) and Mike Napoli (119). Story is third at 114.
  • White Sox rookie shortstop Tim Anderson, who has one walk in 128 plate appearances, is 1-for-8 with a three-ball count. Without a strike in the count, he’s hitting .500 (14-for-28). Maybe he knows what he’s doing.
  • Angels reliever Deolis Guerra went 26 innings before issuing his first walk this season,  to Chris Davis. The next batter, Mark Trumbo, homered.

 

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