Some people believe baseball fans should have no say in the All-Star Game rosters, but Balls says they don’t know how to have a good time.
Really, what fun would the so-called Mid-Summer Classic be without so many passionate debates to liven up what has been a dull game too often.
This year is no different. No sooner were the rosters announced on Monday than fans were in a snit about the perceived snubs of Brian Dozier, Clayton Kershaw and Joey Votto among others.
Except for the few markets that are serious postseason contenders, the All-Star Game is more about entertainment and less about competition. For that reason, the records in interleague play should determine home field advantage in the World Series, not the All-Star Game winner, as Balls contended years ago.
Yet more than any other in baseball, the All-Star Game is for the customers. They’re the ones who foot the bill either at the ballpark or on their sofas. They deserve to pick the players they want to see, and for the most part, they do a pretty darn good job of it.
Sure, the fans brick one on occasion. Statistically, the Athletics’ Stephen Vogt deserved to be chosen ahead of Salvador Perez, one of four Kansas City Royals starters on the American League squad. But the players and the managers also have votes that serve a safety net should a worthy candidate fall through the cracks, and Vogt was added as a reserve.
When all was said and done, the Giants got the All-Stars they deserved — Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and starter Buster Posey. Ditto the the A’s with Vogt and Sonny Gray.
The selection process is hardly perfect, but there is no such thing as perfect when humans are involved. If the rosters were expanded from 34 players, the final spot(s) would be open for discussion just the same.
As Giants manager Bruce Bochy put it, “If I had more picks, I’d still have to leave people off.”
JUST ASKIN’: What would Giants fans have given Bochy to say, “No way I’m pickin’ a stinkin’ Los Angeles Dodger!”
PROCEED AT OWN RISK: If anyone should be removed from the selection process, then it’s the managers of the respective squads. The obligation is too great to favor their real teams, and that can have negative consequences.
Take Andrew McCutchen, for instance.
In 2011, Bochy chose Carlos Beltran over McCutchen even though the Pittsburgh Pirates’ outfielder had a higher batting average and on-base percentage and more stolen bases and was far better in the field at the time. Speculation was that the Giants wanted to acquire Beltran from the New York Mets before the trade deadline, and his selection would give Bochy a chance to score points and sell the program in person.
Beltran waived his no-trade clause to accept a move to San Francisco in return for Zack Wheeler only days later. Beltran departed as a free agent after the season.
Meanwhile, McCutchen still remembers the slight and has positively destroyed the Giants since then.
DESIGNATED SITTER: Here’s one good reason to watch the All-Star Game — Alex Rodriguez won’t be there.
Rodriguez lobbied hard for a chance to market himself in front of a national television audience, but the New York Yankees’ designated hitter was ignored by fans, players and managers alike.
“As I’ve said all season, my number one goal is helping the Yankees win a championship,” Rodriguez said in a prepared statement. “I’m excited that we’re in a good position to get there,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “Of course it would have been an honor to represent the American League next week, but I’ll have fun cheering on the guys who were put on the team and watching them protect home field.”
Alex Rodriguez, cheerleader. Can’t think of a better role for him.
BARBOSA IS BACK: It wasn’t news that rocked the NBA world exactly, but the Warriors re-signed free agent Leandro Barbosa to a reported one-year, $2.5 million deal on Monday.
While not quite the Brazilian Blur of yesteryear, the 32-year-old Barbosa is familiar with coach Steve Kerr’s system, and besides, there’s not much left in the open market anyway. The combo guard averaged 7.1 points and 1.5 assists in 14.9 minutes off the bench last season.
BIG TIME CARLI: In a sport that needs more of them, Balls can’t recall many better stories than Team USA’s Carli Lloyd, who scored six goals in the World Cup and bent some myths along the way. Because if everyone played with the creativity and instincts that she displayed in the tournament, soccer wouldn’t be the bore that many consider it to be.
That Lloyd wasn’t always that dominant led some critics to call her an enigma and worse, especially after she botched a penalty kick against Japan in the 2011 World Cup. She nearly quit the sport after her Rutgers days, only to connect with coach and mentor James Gelanis, who helped improve her physical and mental toughness.
Now Lloyd has earned the reputation as one of the greatest clutch players in U.S. women’s soccer history. Not only did she net the game-winner against Germany and Japan in the final two games but also the gold medal clinchers in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
“The bigger the game, the bigger Carli plays,” said Rutgers women’s soccer coach Mike O’Neill told NJ.com the other day. “That’s the way it was when she was at Rutgers, and that’s what she’s done for our country over the last several years. Semifinal match [against Germany], biggest stage in the world, and there’s a PK and there’s our girl. That’s her stage. That’s where she performs the best.”
Yet Lloyd’s best move came when she removed the captain’s armband and presented it to teammate Abby Wambach, who was in the final seconds of her World Cup career.
Classy, Carli. Classy.