Tuesday, July 6, 2010

FJM: All Star Selections

While there were a plethora of terrible articles on the bounty of All Star snubs this year, this article was definitely one of the most debatable.

I can concede that a good argument for Strasburg making the All Star team can be made. Hell, there were points this weekend when I argued for him making it. The glaring weakness about this is how Mariotti makes his point, so lets begin...

There's a reason baseball is dying a slow death in this country.

Dying a slow death? Sure, attendance is down, but attendance is down in every sport. I know the steroid era left big black smudges on the face of a once proud sport for all the writers that are over 50, but those have been over looked by many who find baseball more interesting than ever. There are more metrics to analyze the game, fantasy baseball is strong as ever, and baseball is finally starting to relate to the ever man (even if it is solely through statistics). I completely disagree that baseball is dying.

Plainly, the people making the decisions are morons.

As are you, Jay, but that is only my opinion, and the opinion of most of America. Actually, Mariotti is fairly brilliant. He always makes completely asinine claims just to get the public talking about him. He is probably one of the most recognized writers in America, and he did this simply by having awful opinions and beating them to death.

Here we have Stephen Strasburg, the game's biggest non-steroids conversation piece in ages, ready-made to pitch in the summer showcase known as the All-Star Game. Here he is, featured on a Saturday afternoon national telecast, gracing the Sports Illustrated cover in his goatee (emphasis on the goat), packing ballparks in D.C.

Emphasis on the goat? What does that mean? I will have to disregard that as incoherent blabber and move on.

Here he is, a care package dropped onto a sport that doesn't deserve such gifts.

A care package? Look, this sport is prime for young stud pitchers to start dominating (see: David Price). If Strasburg wasn't this hyped, ESPN would be over hyping some other youngster. This is how the sports cycle works. The media needs some phenom to cling to.

And there they go, the dunderheads in charge, leaving him off the National League roster and out of the game entirely.

If he is left off the NL roster, doesn't that imply that he is out of the game entirely? Why do we need that addition to the sentence? Was there talk of Strasburg being a ball boy just to get him in the game?

Something is embarrassingly wrong with the leadership of an industry that wouldn't take advantage of this meteorite on a night, July 13 at Angel Stadium, when large numbers of TV viewers are watching.

Strasburg would command even more of a viewing audience, I think that is true. However, lets see how Jay follows up this good point.

I don't care that he has pitched only six games in his big-league career. I don't care that he struggled with control and exited after five innings and 96 pitches in his weekend start against the New York Mets. What I know is that Strasburg is on the tips of too many tongues to ignore his amazing early impact, his magnetic presence and, oh, the fact the NL is trying to break a 13-game losing streak and win home-field advantage in the World Series -- no paltry prize -- for the first time in the eight years since this traditional exhibition took on greater significance.

Lets break this paragraph down. Strasburg's stats so far indicate that he hasn't played very much. In his small sample size he has shown that he can be inconsistent. Strasburg has mythological presence. The NL hasn't won in a long time, including 8 years where the game unwisely meant something.

And the theory is that the small inconsistent sample gives the NL a better chance than pitchers with larger more consistently good sample sizes. This single paragraph destroys Jay's argument. Let's see if he can come back from it.

Give the fans what they want to see, right? Give an All-Star team its best chance to win the Midsummer Classic, right?

Yes, I believe that is the point now that it means something, but you just proved that he doesn't give us the best chance. You just proved he would be fun to watch, but possibly not good enough.

Give us a kid who has the poise to strike out 53, walk only 10 and post a 2.45 ERA in his first month on the elite level, right? Not in the world of Bud Selig, the Mr. Magoo of sports commissioners.

This just in, Bud Selig has gone blind. Now Jay is making fun of handicapped people. Real mature, Mariotti.

At 75, Bud Lite already has shown recently that he's stuck in the last century when he refused to allow replays to overturn a bad umpiring call and give Detroit's Armando Galarraga a rightful perfect game. Now, he won't put a bug in the ear of NL manager Charlie Manuel and suggest he pick Strasburg.

First not overturning the play is the right call, but we can argue that some other time. Second, Jay will prove to us why bugging Manuel shouldn't have been done soon enough.

It's a farce when one of Strasburg's Washington Nationals teammates, journeyman reliever Matt Capps, can make the All-Star team when the Google/Twitter/YouTube-crazy phenom cannot.

Matt Capps is currently 2nd in the NL in Saves. You are right, though. Twitter phenoms are much more in demand.

With Selig insisting that every team be represented in the All-Star Game by at least one player, the requirement should have been the escape hatch to include Strasburg, even if purists and old-time players have trashed the idea of including a raw rookie. But it was Capps -- 2-3 record, 3.19 ERA, 22 saves, four blown saves, 10.8 hits allowed per nine innings -- who was named by Manuel as the lone Nat.

Not really sure how this proves Mariotti's point. Again, we've decided that Capps is the 2nd best closer in the NL right now, and that Strasburg has been inconsistent. So the one player selected from a bad Nats team should not be the best player on said team, but the player with the most Youtube hits? I think Joel Zumaya's elbow should also be represented.

If your kid asks why Strasburg was omitted but someone named Evan Meek made it, how do you explain? Meek, also a relief pitcher, is the lone representative of the pathetic Pittsburgh Pirates.

That is exactly how I would explain it. Except I would end by saying, "And right now in the MLB every team needs to have at least one player representing them in the All Star Game."

He has had seven save opportunities this season and converted exactly one, making it curious how he has a 0.98 earned run average.

Well, Meek is not the closer, he is the setup man. While a stronger case could be made for Andrew McCutchen to be the Pirates rep, that is not the debate we are having.

Whatever the reason, no one wants to: (1) see Evan Meek in the All-Star Game, maybe not even his friends and family;

I find it exceptionally hard to believe that Meek's mother would not like to see him in the All Star Game. Jay, please stop killing hyperbole for the rest of us.

or (2) see Evan Meek try to retire American League batters when Strasburg and his drop-dead array of stuff are at home.

This is a good point, which is why Meek will not be touching the field at the ASG. He is only there because the Pirates have to be represented. Jay is correct that he would not be exciting to watch. Arguing that Meek should be replaced by Stratsburg is insane though. It is an impossibility within the currently constructed rules. Jay's argument should be about a pitcher from a team with more than one representative. Let's see how he justifies this thinking...

They can name 68 men to All-Star rosters but none is named Stephen Strasburg.

Um, ok.

It's convenient to beat up Manuel because, technically, he chose the final three starters on the pitching staff after the players selected Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Tim Lincecum and Adam Wainwright.

Ask yourself, has Strasburg had a better/more dominating year than any of those players? I think you can definitively state that he has not. Had he been playing all year, he could be in that echelon, but he only has 6 starts under his belt.

Manuel, who hasn't seen Strasburg in person yet, opted for Tim Hudson, Chris Carpenter and Yovani Gallardo. You mean to say Manuel wouldn't have mumbled "Yessir" in that dopey downhome twang had word been sent down to include the kid?

First of all, those 3 pitchers have had far and away better years than Strasburg. Hudson and Gallardo have had spectacular years so far, and all of these guys deserve to be in the ASG over Strasburg.

Also, the parting shot at Charlie Manuel is completely uncalled for. It seems like it was solely thrown into the article to catch arise out of people. That, in particular, is why I don't like Jay Mariotti. He seems phony in all of his arguments.

"He got quite a bit of consideration," said Manuel, manager of the Nationals' divisional rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies. "I don't have to tell anybody, he's got a great future. He is going be an All-Star for a long time. What's he got, like, five (six) starts in the major leagues? I just felt there are other guys out there who have started anywhere from 18 to 20 games. I just felt, 'Leave him alone and let him get used to the major-league level and he'll take care of himself.' "

I don't know about you, but I feel that that explanation hit the nail on the head. Why take a spot of someone who clearly deserves the recognition for a Youtube prodigy?

Hope he feels the same way when Alex Rodriguez is batting with the bases loaded, bottom of the seventh, and Manuel needs an out to protect a 4-3 lead. Oh, to see him summon Strasburg for such a situation.

You are correct, that situation would be fantastic and memorable, but Strasburg still does not deserve that spot. If the argument is: Would Strasburg be more enjoyable than Chris Carpenter in the ASG? I would definitively answer yes. Besides from the Youtube phenom comment, this article has been completely about credentials, and not hype. If you want pure entertainment value then they should just send Strasburg against Griffey, or hell maybe they could hold some sort of contest where the best sluggers in the game get together and try to hit home runs.

I will now skip around at the funny lines because the rest of the article gets a little long winded...

Instead, we might get Capps, who has pitched fairly well for the Nats and did lose a father to a heart attack last October.

Seems relevant in the All Star debate.

But last I looked, none has appeared on Late Show With David Letterman and has had each of his appearances televised by Fox, ESPN, TBS or the MLB Network.

Basically the only thing I care about as a fan is how many night shows you've been on. Its why I still feel Derek Jeter is the best player to ever play the game. I would rather see Jeter on Leno than Teddy Ballgame, I'm just saying.

"It would be an injustice to baseball in America not to show Stephen Strasburg on the biggest interleague stage," Fox analyst Tim McCarver said.

Here are my philosophies on debating. Find out what Tim McCarver thinks, and argue the exact opposite. History has shown us you will be right 100% of the time.

Mariotti actually does quite a nice job of compiling quote from all around the league and gets several different view points. Most of these are actually in the camp arguing against Strasburg for the ASG, which is a weird way to win your argument.

Some other quick thoughts that were either neglected or never mentioned about ASG snubs. Omar Infante! What the hell was Charlie Manuel thinking? If they need a utility guy, I'm pretty sure Martin Prado has more than enough experience at every position on the diamond (and starters can re-enter the game).

I do believe that McCutchen should have made it over Meek, as he has been killing the ball.

Same with Joey Votto. Actually Votto deserves to be there more than almost anyone in the league. I think it just came down to too few fielder spots and Manuel went with horrible decisions like, Ryan Howard over Votto.

As far as the AL, I thought Alex Rios got robbed. He is a Top 5 outfielder in OPS this year, which Votto showed means nothing to ASG voters.

Those are all my thoughts for right now, as my computer is currently in a room with no air conditioning and I'm sweating balls. Leave your thoughts in the comments.


  1. I am excited to see Josh Johnson pitch. With his 4 TDs last season and 685 passing Yards I expect a new Youtube sensation to be born when he takes the hill.

    I'm not interested in seeing Josh Johnson of the Marlins with his league leading 1.82 ERA. He does have a great picture though.


  2. Another point...

    How can Mariotti call Capps a journeyman reliever when he has only pitched for two organizations in his nine year career? Do you think he has Capps and Ron Villone confused?