The Cycle: 2012 All-Star Game Special

Posted: July 10, 2012 in ALL II
Tags: , , , ,

All-Star edition of The Cycle, four stories that caught my eye in baseball!

Single: American League Starters That Left More To Be Desired

As will be a common theme throughout this relatively short post, I am generally worried about fans deciding things with real consequences.  If this game matters (its result will be consequential to future happenings like home field advantage or if a retractable dome will be open or closed) then fans need to do better.  For the American League, I think it’s time for people to appreciate Paul Konerko’s work at first base.  Konerko often travels below the radar (his injury in May didn’t help his case) but his numbers stack up at the top of first basemen throughout baseball: .333/.410/.549.  His past two seasons saw true averages above .315 which is spectacular given he could not hit to save his life three seasons ago.  For my obligatory Yankees shot, I probably would go with Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera over El Capitan.  Both have similar numbers – in large part to Jeter regressing to the mean – and deteriorating defense.  Since this isn’t the Seattle Mariners, defense does not really matter.  *I just saw Elvis Andrus throw a bullet from third to get Andrew McCutchen out…he also could make an argument to start as he has the best defense of the three*  A case could be made that Adam Jones should be a starter but the only outfielder I would bump up is Mike Trout.  Aside from taking all the pressure off Albert Pujols, his figures this year are unreal: .335/.395/.530.  Young superstar who stole Bryce Harper’s thunder and can actually catch the ball consistently.

Double: National League Starters Leaving More To Be Desired

For the National League, starter decisions become more complicated by stronger fan bases (San Francisco Giants) which really show up for their teams.  That said Carlos Ruiz is clearly outperforming Buster Posey – a real shame he won’t get a starting nod.  *Joe Buck is currently fussing about Giants fans stuffing the ballot box.  Could not be more condescending.  Still not as outraged as he was here.* The numbers are not really close either.  Posey: .289/.362/.458.  Ruiz: .350/.412/.584!  Don’t be disrespectful – and nice job Phillies fans!  David Wright not starting is also egregious despite Pablo Sandoval’s worthy performance.  Wright has owned this season and owns a higher Wins Above Replacement than Sandoval and Chase Headley.  Why Andrew McCutchen isn’t starting is a testament to a beaten Pirates fan base, perhaps in shock of their first place status in the NL Central – you know when you think central United States you definitely think Pittsburgh.  Ehh, the entire thing is frustrating but as usual the American League outperforms the National League in picking a better team to lose for a third straight year.

Triple: Home Run Derby – Enjoyment For Someone Not Me

I loved the home run derby when I was a child.  Operative word being child.  Like birthdays, home run derbies should be let go at the age of 12.  It is certainly a skill that I appreciate but it does not keep up with the creativity and excitement of the NBA Slam Dunk competition or the NHL creative shot thing.  Hitting a homerun is fun but it gets old.  What never gets old is a fan base absolutely ripping a player and that player’s performance feeding the hatred. When an athlete is in control, the result is stunning (Lebron James’ 44 point performance against the Trailblazers this season).  When bad, you get Robinson Cano’s zero home run performance in the derby.  The fans, to their credit, ripped him.  Cano selected Jose Bautista (27HRs this season), Prince Fielder (15), and Mark Trumbo (22) to compete for the American League thereby leaving off Kansas City Royal Billy Butler (16).  Now to Cano’s credit, he handled the booing nicely by not ripping the fans and acknowledging he expected this type of reaction.  Furthermore, Butler is not a close snub.  Adam Dunn has 25 homeruns, Edwin Encarnacion with 23, and Adam Jones as 20.  Cano did the right thing and the fans responded accordingly.

All was well – especially with rating three percent higher than last year – until I saw Major League Baseball is thinking of changing Home Run Derby rules.  Make it shorter?  Get rid of that golden ball!?  Nope, old man Selig displayed his only connection with this era by suggesting a designated spot for a home team representative may be added to curtail this type of booing.  You know how everyone today gets a ribbon for participating?  How the Miami Heat “good job, good effort” kid is a laughing stock?  How people expect a participation grade to balance off shoddy work over the quarter or semester?  Major League Baseball is worried about future participation and crowds being too unfriendly to players.  This is a horrific idea.  MLB rightfully recognized that team captains selecting players would be exciting; to alter that idea to make sure belligerent fans don’t see the home town hero is absurd.  I want to see the best players hit balls into the night.  Well, when I was younger this is what I wanted.  To put a player in to please 40,000 fans means squat for the millions watching worldwide.  But who is surprised when Selig announces that he will consider this change amid the drawn out format we currently have today…not me.

Home Run: Fixing the All-Star Game

So I joined the All-Star game in the bottom of the fourth inning.  I knew it was coming on but had no interest in watching.   Truly a damn shame considering I watch tons of regular season games every single night but did not want to see the “best of the best” play together.  Why?  Well because the entire thing is flawed from the on field performance to its presentation.  Not to be one that merely casts stones, I have solutions in no particular order but should be implemented immediately to insure success in the future.  Since Cal Ripken Jr. suggested that this winner gets home-field advantage crap isn’t going anywhere, these solutions will be within this stupid format.

  • Move the All-Star festivities to the weekend!  I don’t know why the Home Run Derby is on Monday and the game on Tuesday.  I do know that nothing that is “all-star” happens on a Monday or Tuesday.  It is also not 1946.  So move the game to a weekend so more people can enjoy it and not worry about work the next morning.  Easiest fix.  Make the game seem more fun by putting it with the fun times on the weekend.  If you really want a kick, put the game on a Saturday night to avoid going against Sunday television shows.
  • Get rid of the “all teams must be represented” mess.  If home field advantage is on the line, I do not want great players on a last place team (who happen to be decent players overall) on the squad.  If the game means something then only take players that mean something to the game.
  • Starters should be selected by coaches/players.  Fans should be able to pick backups.  Again, the game means something so get rid of the fans stuffing the ballot box and keeping the top players out.  Plus, everyone that needs to get there eventually gets there so make fans pay attention and vote smarter.
  • While I am adjusting teams if you are selected to the All-Star game it does not mean you will get into the game.  Priority: Win game.  Secondary concern: making you happy.
  • Most importantly, Bill Simmons is right to suggest that starters should all play at the same time but they should play towards the second half of the game, not the first.  Once all the marquee players leave, reserves determine the outcome which is not nearly as captivating as starters going later into games or entering games later.
  • Add a skills competition.  All the big sports have or had them.  (By the way, the NFL needs to bring back the skills competition.  I want to see the Quarterback Skills challenge, an NFL “Punt, Pass, and Kick” competition, and combine competition with at least weight lifting!)  Give me a fastest around the diamond contest.  Pitcher accuracy?  Outfield best arm?  Some type of relay race?  I need more to accompany the Home Run Derby that should be five outs shorter.

Just a few ideas that I would like to see.  Please let me know you own in the co


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