Usually it’s an argument about who got snubbed, or who didn’t “deserve” to make the team, or someone upset about the fan voting deriding it as a “popularity”contest” (thanks for that Earth shattering observation). And while I suppose I’ve got a penchant for engaging in these conversations as they crop up, I’d like to think that I don’t get that outraged about these things anymore, because by and large I just find them to be silly. Yes, Derek Jeter was voted to start the All-Star game last year despite not being All-Star caliber on the field for a season and a half. On the other hand, he’s a no-doubt Hall of Famer and arguably the most recognizable face in the entire sport. The integrity of the All-Star game is not going to be threatened by the fact that fans would rather see Derek Jeter in the game than some other American League shortstop who’s having a strong first half of the season.
Now, on the one hand, there seems to be a lot less of this sort of complaining this year than most but, on the other hand, the controversy du jour is somehow even sillier than usual. It turns out that a somewhat large number of Mets fans, as well as the local media (never let it be said that the New York media does not know a good fauxrage when it sees one), have decided to take seeming offense at the snub of R.A. Dickey. No no, Dickey is on the roster, he’s just not starting the game. Giants’ starter Matt Cain is. This, according to some, is outrageous, stupid, bad marketing, and disrespectful to Flanny all at the same time.
Don’t people ever get tired of this? I mean, Dickey has certainly had a great season and he’s arguably the most fun pitcher to watch in baseball right now, but does it really make that big of a difference who starts this game? Unlike the American League, where Justin Verlander is a more than obvious choice of starter, the National League is much more wide open, with at least four or five guys you could make a realistic case for being the best choice to open the festivities. If I were the National League manager Dickey wouldn’t be starting the game either, Zack Greinke would be. Not only does he have a strong case as the senior circuit’s best pitcher right now, he’s returning to his original home city in Kansas City, the place where he won the 2009 A.L. Cy Young Award. That’d be a nice story, and a really nice moment for the hometown fans, so that’s what I’d do. The horror.
As it stands, though, Greinke, unlike Dickey, isn’t even on the roster! This despite the fact that he leads the N.L. in fWAR and FIP, in addition to having a 9-3 record. Jonny Cueto didn’t make it either as, like Greinke, he was snubbed by National League manager Tony LaRussa, a manager that both players have some very recent acrimony with. That would seem to be a much bigger outrage than what inning Dickey enters the game, and it’s somewhat ironic that some actual eyebrow raising snubs by a notoriously thin skinned former manager (and current MLB employee) are getting much less ink spilled over them than the fact that one of the best shortstops in the history of the game won the fan vote last year did.
But either way, don’t we ever get tired of being 0utraged over this silly game all the time? I know I do, which is why I dread the week between the selection show and the game itself like the last three innings of a game being managed by LaRussa.