While I’m happy that the American League won the All Star game I’m sure that everyone who has ever read my blog before knows my biggest qualm with this years game: where exactly was Lackey, Leyland?
If you are going to have Haren start fine. If you are going to have everyone pitch two innings fine. But I think it is a little 1) unfair, and 2) awkward to have some of the guys pitch two and others (who have not had seasons as good as Lackey’s) pitch at all. I understand that Lackey started on Saturday and pitched seven or eight innings, but come on, let him face a batter. I’m not implying that Leyland has a bias against Lackey, or that C.C. Sabathia isn’t a great pitcher, but Lackey definately deserved to pitch in the game.
A lot of people have been emailing and iming me in regards to Frankie’s performance. For those of you who don’t know, that is what we Angels fans go through on a nightly basis, especially since we rarely have blow outs. So no, he wasn’t trying to "embarass Leyland," or give you a heart attack, that was just Frankie being Frankie. And he got us the win, didn’t he?
I was unenthused by Vladdy’s performance. It seemed lack luster at best, but hopefully that will be out of the way by Friday night. Ichiro on the other hand was more than impressive. I’m not even an Ichiro fan, but inside the park home runs are always fun. Speaking of, I wasn’t aware there was footage of the Stengel inside the park homer from the World Series until I saw it before the Home Run Derby. I have to say that my favorite All Star game home run has to be the 1941 Ted Williams shot. It is a classic. One for the ages, and he looks so genuinely happy to be playing the game of baseball that you can’t help but smile, no matter if you are a Yankees fan, National League fan, or not a fan of baseball at all. But that was when the game was pure, to some level, and no I’m not trying to make an issue about steroids right now, but ’41 was during the golden era of baseball, and the point is that unless you are soul-less watching Williams prance (and that is probably the only time prance has been used as a compliment towards a Major League ball player), jump, smile, and laugh around the bases is a heartwarming experience, a throwback to the days when the game may not have "counted" but it more than mattered, and when baseball was the national pastime.
Anyways, I digress, it was a great game, and I watched it in great company with my friend Kendall and her family. Here is a brief shout-out to Mr. Luther and his co-workers, thank you for reading (even if they are Yankee fans).
Three Angels were elected to this years Midsummer classic, but to be honest I could be happier.
As everyone who reads this blog even semi-regularly knows I am John Lackey’s biggest supporter, so as I watched ESPN waiting for each of the pitchers for the American League Squad to be announced I couldn’t help but sit on the very edge of my seat and hold my breath until I saw footage of Lackey moving out of the stretch. Afterwards I let out a huge sigh of relief and gave my Dad a high-five, at which point he just said "you knew it was going to happen." Its true, I did know Lackey would get an All Star nod this year, there is absolutely no reason not to, he has become one of the most prominent forces in the Majors with everything from his fastball to his "slurve." And he couldn’t have made much more of a case for himself than by earning his eleventh win on Sunday, in case any would-be-nay-sayers had doubts about the talented righty. But there is always that bit of doubt one has, when they know that everything is out of their hands, left to fate (or in this case the players in the American League), and that is why I was so nervous.
Well that, and the fact that Orlando Cabrera, easily this seasons best shortstop was snubbed. This has to be the biggest robbery in my memory, possibly in the history of the All Star game. As I have written before Jeter and Cabrera have VERY similar offensive numbers this season, but Cabrera’s defensive statistics are much better than Jeter’s. While at Shea an old time Mets and Yankees fan tried to convince me that despite what the records say Derek Jeter only owns 7 errors this season, as the scorers themselves were biased. He argued that there were numerous throwing errors that should not have been charged to Jeter, and he would know as he watched every game. My counter arguement is that the Fielding Bible states that Jeters is a below average fielder, and as much as I respect fan opinions, I think that this is a little more reliable.
Therein as an Angels fan, and a fan of baseball, I feel a little cheated in regards to the selection at short, though I can’t complain about Frankie, Vladdy, or Big John. I don’t feel as though we, as fans of the American League are putting forth our best effort to elect the best team possible. So if Derek Jeter makes an ever costly error during the game, we will be able to say "OC probably would have had that," and we will most likely be right. So here is to hoping that we ensure American League home field advantage, and that poor defensive selections like Jeter and Ortiz don’t hinder our World Series chances.
JR left this comment in regards to my last entry, and it sparked a few more political ideas in my head in relation to the All Star game:
The United States, obviously, employs a two party political system in which you can, traditionally, vote for Republicans or Democrats. It is not to say that third party votes are not important, they can influence an election by dividing votes, or at times a new party can emerge (there was an era when the Republicans were said third party). Because the political structure is such it makes it easy for citizens to vote along party lines. While this may seem irresponsible to many, the “best” and most frequently used “tag” for voters is the party identification of the candidate running for whatever office they are seeking to inherit. Voters assume that because a candidate is a republican they are fiscally and socially conservative, or at least more so than their democratic counterpart and so they vote accordingly. As such it seems that the people vote based on party allegiance than the competence of the competitor. The media also helps in the capacity that voters do not want to take the time to research the aforementioned competence of the candidates, so the media bias influences voter opinions of the party and, at times, the candidate.
Clearly, this takes place at the federal, state and local levels within the United States. But what about on a more personal level, with All Star voting?
It is arguable that many Americans care more about their favorite sports team than their local representative. One would be hard pressed in an American society where politics is secondary to so many other aspects of life to find a group of people who could name their local congressman (mine is Duncan Hunter). It is not that I am selling the American people short, but rather recognize that the majority are not educated, or do not wish to take the time to become educated, about these things. Researching candidates is difficult, especially if they are not an incumbent, and time consuming, so why bother when your vote counts for little (if anything) when it comes to the electoral college at the presidential level.
But because we, as Americans, care more about our sports teams (I’m guilty of this too) than our politicians, shouldn’t we take the time to research their statistics to ensure that the best players get elected to the All Star game? It seems that we have taken the traditional “party” shortcut with even our national pastime, and we elect players based on the team they play for, not the numbers that they produce. The biggest cases for this argument are in the bitter rivals of the Yankees and Red Sox.
This years game will be played in San Francisco, a National League park. An NL park means NL rules, which do not include the designated hitter. As such there is no position on the fan ballot for the DH, and many traditional Designated Hitters were placed in where they normally “play.” The most obvious example of this is Boston’s slugger David Ortiz. Ortiz has been an All Star for the past three years, and is slated to become one again, despite the fact that he is the most stereotypical DH in the league. Ortiz has played a total of two games (as of June 12, 2007) at the first base position this season, yet he will be the starter for the American League if ESPN has projected its votes correctly. Does this make any sense at all? Yes, Ortiz is an amazing power hitter, but this game should be about electing the best overall player at his position, not the best hitter. Perhaps more telling is that Ortiz is a Red Sox, and as such inherits a large and passionate fan base. So it seems that the people of Boston are taking advantage of their 25 votes per email address and voting a DH into the first baseman’s position even though this man does not play there.
Another case for the party identification theory is that of Orlando Cabrera and Derek Jeter. Both men play the shortstop position, and are considered to be the leading contenders for the starting spot for the mid summer classic. Their batting is relatively similar as they are both currently in the .330 area (although OC is batting six points higher than Jeter). While Jeter’s On-Base Percentage is higher than Cabrera’s, Cabrera has more hits, doubles and runs batted in than The Prince of New York. Jeter only has one more home run than Cabrera. And though both have six stolen bases, Jeter has been caught five times compared to Cabrera’s zero. More importantly is the best player aspect, again, Jeter has made 11 errors compared to Cabrera’s four. So the two men may be close to equal in regards to batting Cabrera is clearly the superior base runner and fielder, making him the better shortstop this season. Yet ESPN predicts that Jeter will start the game. This can only be attributed to name recognition, playing in a larger market, an East Coast media bias, which all contribute to less educated fans.
I love seeing my favorite players in the All Star game just as much as the next person, but I understand those who deserve to go should be voted in based on statistics not the team they play for. It is unfair to deny the best player at his position that right because he plays in for a smaller market team. So while I personally make educated decisions regarding my votes I recognize that many do not, and so it seems that the system itself should be changed. Perhaps the All Star game should be like the Pro Bowl where fans are one-third of the influence, players one-third, and coaches the other third. Or maybe it should be just the players and coaches who decide, because it seems that Americans are not motivated enough to do research on those who will pass legislation and make international decisions on their behalf, let alone who will represent them in the All Star game. But if Major League Baseball chooses to leave the system as it is, which they will, then I would like to be able to vote for pitchers. I realize that pitchers are more numerous than other players, but as an educated fan I can surely wade my way through them.
Perhaps literacy tests should be reinstated at the polls… or at least baseball trivia ones.
I just got done voting, 25 times, for the 2007 MLB All Star game.
Does anyone else think that it is a little too early to decide the fates of these guys? You have about 15 games worth of baseball to base each players preformance, if you are going to do what you should be doing. You shouldn’t be voting on career stats right now, you should be voting for who you believe will help your team win the game because, as we all know, "this time it counts."
I love the concept of having the All Star game count towards something, anything really. Of course pride was always nice, but this seems to give a little more justification to the Ray Fosse vs Pete Rose incident… if only this had been instated then. But the point is that this does count, and therein we, as fans should be making informed decisions.
MLB has made it ridiculously easy for us to vote. You can vote 25 times for the same players without having to move your mouse with the exception of clicking "move to NL ballot" or "submit my vote" and typing in a security code. And this is only for the internet. At baseball games you can get as many ballots as you like, and literally stuff the ballot box, I speak from experience.
Remember a few years back when David Eckstein suddenly jumped ahead of Ceasar Izturis for the NL short stop position? Well lets just say that yours truly was at about… 3 games that week. I’m not claiming to be personally responsible for this, but there are definately ways to get around even the loose formalities that MLB has constructed. For example you don’t have to vote for an entire team, you can only vote for one player. So in 2005 I realized that I couldn’t get everyone I wanted in, so why waste my time, instead I maximized my output by only voting for David Eckstein. Additionally I grabbed as many ballots as I could between innings, the ballpark is stocked full of them. What you do is open them up (they are traditionally tri-folds) and line 5-7 of them up in a row, then use something (a pen or fork) and get all of them done at once. This process takes about a minute for 5-7 ballots, and games are about 3 hours long. I’m not saying I did this through an entire game, but you get my point. You can even enlist the people you go with (my dad) to help you out.
Lucky for all of you fans who don’t take advantage of voting there are people who do their research and vote. The problem is the people who only vote for "insert favorite team here" instead of those with the credentials to help win. I’m not imposing we make the All Star game some sort of dictatorship, but I assume taht most of you reading know what you are talking about, or it seems as though you do. So with that do your job as fans to ensure that we have a very good, interesting, and competitive All Star game, make it count for more than home field advantage, make it count for a love of the game.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the Pro Bowl vs the All Star Game.
And clearly the All Star Game is better.
I’ve been likening the Pro Bowl to Hall of Fame induction announcements. You get so excited for them, thinking that this year something might be different, only be to disappointed when the same thing that happens every year, inevitably happens again. Example: I got excited hoping that someone other than Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr would get inducted this year, and sure enough they were the only two, then again I got excited that ANYTHING of interest would happen in the Pro Bowl, and was let down again.
However baseball’s All Star Game has a different feel to it. Perhaps it is because "it counts". Or maybe its because I love baseball more than I love football. Or maybe its because there aren’t so many rule changes. Or maybe its because I have less of a fear of players from "my team" getting injured (when Peyton fell to the floor during the first quarter I almost threw up).
It is even more exciting than the NASCAR all star race (where anyone that has won a race gets a spot). And yes I realize many of you are snickering right now that I would even say that, but it is important to point out.
And maybe its because my voting means everything. During the 2005 season I voted literally thousands of times for David Eckstein, and on the last day it was announced that he had overtaken Ceasar Izturis in the voting, and he made his first appearance in the midsummer classic. Now I won’t argue that voting is perfect. Football seems to have a good system intact with 1/3 of the vote coming from the fans, 1/3 of the vote coming from the players, and 1/3 of the vote coming from the coaches. But I enjoy voting for something that I am truly educated on, and that is baseball. Normally I take politics very seriously, but with my first quarter of college going on at the same time I didn’t vote this past November because I didn’t think it would be fair to impact society by voting on something that I was not well versed in. However baseball is my passion, and no matter what else is going on in my life I will be informed about it. But conversely fans that are not educated get to vote, and that is the problem. If fans were more responsible then this would not be an issue. However most people are not so responsible, and many don’t take the right to vote on an All Star game seriously enough.
The point is baseball has by far the best All Star game. I’m not sure why, but if someone has a good theory, let me know.