We're inching closer to the mid-summer classic known as baseball's All-Star Game. The game is entertaining and I will most likely watch most of it like I usually do. However, I'm not a fan of what Bud Selig has done with it since the 2002 game in Milwaukee ended in a tie - namely, the World Series home field advantage goes to the team from the winning league. Yeah, yeah Bud. You had to make sure you didn't have the same result as 2002. You had to make sure the players really cared about the game. You had to make sure the managers managed it as if it was the World Series. You had to make the All-Star game relevant again.
Well, in my opinion, you don't make the players really care about the game unless you pay them for it. Many players nowadays only seem to be motivated by money. Not like years ago when the motivation was dislike for the other league and just wanting to beat them in an exhibition game the players actually cared more about than the fans. If you don't want to actually pay them then let baseball open up its huge coffers and donate $100,000 to the charity of choice for each player on the winning team.
Declaring that the winning league would get home field advantage for the World Series was a cheap ploy to try to incentivize the players, coaches, and managers. There are still players on each squad every year from teams that don't have a realistic chance of getting to the playoffs, never mind the World Series. What will they care about who gets home field advantage?
Then there's the fact that this negates all the hard work that a team does during the year to get as good a record as possible. The home field advantage for the World Series was something to really strive for. It was something the fans really looked forward to if their team had the better record going into the Fall Classic. It was something a city had to look forward to - the possibility of an extra day's revenues for their overall economy including more money for vendors and workers. All that has been taken away from the team, fans, and city they represent for an exhibition game in the middle of the season that less and less people really care about. The team with the better record entering the World Series should have home field advantage, period. Bud has done some good things in his tenure but he sure botched this one up.
I'll get off my soapbox now and compare the MLB All-Stars to my fantasy All-Stars for the National League. Accompanying stats were current last week:
C - Buster Posey won the voting and has been solid, batting .300 with 10 home runs, 42 RBI and 32 runs scored, but Carlos Ruiz is my fantasy All-Star with a .354 batting average, 12 home runs, 44 RBI, and 39 runs.
1B - Joey Votto got the fans' nod and mine as well, batting .352 with 14 home runs, 47 RBI, and 50 runs scored.
2B - Dan Uggla's .231 batting average, 11 home runs, 43 RBI, and 52 runs won out over Aaron Hill's .301 average, 11 home runs, 38 RBI, and 36 runs. Hill added seven stolen bases to Uggla's zero. My fantasy All-Star is Hill.
3B - Pablo Sandoval and his .302 BA, six HR, 25 RBI, and 26 R were deemed more worthy than David Wright and his .351 BA, 10 HR, 54 RBI, 54 R and eight stolen bases. Not in my book. Wright is the fantasy All-Star hands down.
SS - Rafael Furcal is certainly a good story for older guys like me, but his .275 batting average, five home runs, 32 RBI, 53 runs scored, and nine stolen bases is trumped as my fantasy All-Star by youngster Starlin Castro, who has hit .291 with six home runs, 40 RBI, 38 runs scored and 16 stolen bases.
OF - Voted in were Melky Cabrera (.352 BA, seven HR, 39 RBI, 53 R, ten SB), Carlos Beltran (.304 BA, 20 HR, 63 RBI, 49 R, seven SB), and Matt Kemp (.355 BA, 12 HR, 28 RBI, 30 R, two SB in only 36 games). My fantasy All-Stars are Andrew McCutchen (.360 BA, 16 HR, 54 RBI, 52 R, 14 SB), Carlos Gonzalez (.338 BA, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 59 R, 10 SB), and Ryan Braun (.309 BA, 23 HR, 58 RBI, 52 R, 13 SB).
P - I don't have an issue with the pitching staff as a whole as they were selected. Matt Cain, R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, Cole Hamels, Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, Lance Lynn, Wade Miley, Aroldis Chapman, Joel Hanrahan, Craig Kimbrel, Jonathan Papelbon, and Huston Street are all All-Star worthy. But for my fantasy All-Stars, James McDonald, Chris Capuano, or Zack Greinke would make the team over Lynn or Miley.
Well that's it for my All-Stars and ranting about the real game. Enjoy it and the break, and I hope the Home Run Derby doesn't ruin any of your players for the second half.