Jul 10

Five Ways To Fix The All-Star Game

When I was growing up I used to love the All-Star Game. The game meant something to me because it was clear it meant something to the players. When two of my favorite players – Pete Rose and Ray Fosse – met at the plate during the 1970 All-Star Game in Cincinnati, it was clear it was not just another game. At least to those two.

FOSSE/ROSE: When the stars played with passion.

At one time they played two All-Star Games. These days there’s not too much of a game at all. It stopped being special when the vote was returned to the fans – ironically, in 1970 – because that’s when it became a popularity contest. Any election where a person can cast an indefinite amount of times is a farce by definition.

As far as I’m concerned, the game officially jumped the shark with interleague play. Soon after, MLB did away with the league offices and merged the umpires. And, of course, let’s not forget the farce of having the two leagues play with different rules regarding the DH.

Baseball’s All-Star Game is by far superior to other sports, but that doesn’t mean changes aren’t necessary. It doesn’t need tinkering, but an overhaul of serious proportions.

Here’s what I would do:

1. It is a pipe dream, I know, but the first thing would be to eliminate interleague play, thereby creating a distinction between the leagues. The leagues will always be blurred to some extent because of free agency and movement of players. Interleague play is a gimmick that has taken luster from the All-Star Game and World Series.

2. Knowing MLB will keep interleague play as long as Bud Selig is around, the next step would be to cut the nonsense about the winning league having home field in the World Series. As long as the fans vote and it is a popularity contest, having it have such an impact in the postseason is a contradiction. The notion of a fan vote, having each team represented and trying to play everybody is the opposite in essence of having the winner determine the Game 7 site of the World Series.

3. Take away the fan vote. Another pipe dream, but I’d rather eliminate the popularity contest angle. Maybe the managers and coaches, or players, or scouts, or media. The stipulation being you can’t vote for your own players.

4. Why should every team be represented? It’s like everybody getting a trophy in the second grade. The only caveat being the host city having a player on the team. Assuring each team being represented often ends up having a deserving player being snubbed.

5. Expand the rosters to include a lifetime achievement participant. If a player is at the end of his career and has been a perennial All-Star but is having a sub-par year, include him on the team. For example, had Chipper Jones had not made it as a late entry, then a spot should have been reserved for him. Give the public a chance to say good-bye.

Jul 10

Gee Undergoes Surgery; Out Indefinitely

The second half of the season has not gotten off to a good start for the Mets, and it has nothing to do with R.A. Dickey not starting tonight’s All-Star Game. Dillon Gee was hospitalized after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot from his right shoulder and will be on the disabled list indefinitely.

Gee was hospitalized after experiencing numbness in his right fingers. Doctors at New York Presbyterian Hospital used a catheter to break up the clot.

Gee was scheduled to start Friday night at Atlanta. Gee is not the Mets’ only pitching concern entering the second half. Johan Santana sustained a twisted right ankle in his last start.

Gee, coming off a solid start Saturday against Chicago, is 6-7 with a 4.10 ERA in 17 starts.

 

Jul 10

Thought On All-Star Home Run Derby

Another year, another Home Run Derby. The only thing with edge last night was Kansas City booing Robinson Cano for bypassing the local hero. Of course, it didn’t have the from-the-heart venom of NBA fans booing the Miami Heat.

Initially, I watched the Derby with interest, if not fascination, the way I did the NBA slam dunk. But, there’s no real challenge if the pitch is lobbed over the play, so it became boring. Then, after the steroid issue, you knew what fueled all those upper deck shots.

So, I’m not a big fan of the Derby. I’d rather watch Criminal MInds reruns.

But, the paying public in the host city still loves it. I heard on talk radio yesterday saying how it Derby should be tweaked, ranging from celebrities (PLEASE, NO) to retired sluggers (not a bad idea).

I don’t care for the Derby because it is staged and not real competition – even though in a million swings I could never clear the wall – but as long as they are selling out the stadium, just leave it alone.

Jul 09

La Russa Snubs Dickey For All-Star Start

Tony La Russa has always been noted for over thinking, and his reasoning for not starting the Mets’ R. A. Dickey probably falls into that category, too.

Word out of Kansas City is Matt Cain will go against Justin Verlander in tomorrow’s All-Star Game. All along the reports are an apprehension for using the knuckleballer with Buster Posey.

“Look, I want to start the game. Of course I do,” Dickey said Sunday. “I think any competitor would like to.”

La Russa’s thinking is faulty if he’s concerned about passed balls and wild pitches. They are potentially far more costly later in the game when your offense has less time to make up a run.

Cain and Posey are teammates, so that makes sense. If Dickey follows a power pitcher such as Cain to throw off the AL hitters, that also makes sense. But, if La Russa’s reasoning in fear, that makes no sense.

The official announcement is expected at a 1:30 p.m. ET news conference.
Jul 09

Mets Close Exciting First Half With Concern

After a plus first half, the Mets limp into the All-Star break on the skids – definitely not the team that captivated our imagination for the better part of three months.

We all knew they had questions and issues, but played through them. Just not to the point where we can think they’ve disappeared.

Over the past few weeks, the Mets bullpen continued to implode. That wasted Chris Young start comes immediately to mind. More alarming is that both R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana have twice been roughed up. The defense has been erratic, and the overall lack of power and speed have both come into play.

Losing two series to the Chicago Cubs is just not an encouraging sign.

The Mets finished the first half with a winning record, and maybe this is just a glitch. A warming to Sandy Alderson more parts are needed.

During the break, I’ll look at what went right and wrong, what is needed, and grade the players. I’ll be back around noon.