Hold on. Let me get this straight. National League players chose a pitcher from the Washington Nationals for the 2010 All-Star Game -- and it wasn't Stephen Strasburg?
And then NL manager
Forrest Gump Charlie Manuel of the Phillies filled out the pitching staff, adding five pitchers to the eight chosen by the players ... and he didn't pick Strasburg either?
|Stephen Strasburg has 53 strikeouts in just 36-plus innings, but you won't see him in the All-Star Game. (AP)|
Stephen Strasburg's All-Star candidacy was the most fascinating thing to come along in baseball since, um, Stephen Strasburg's major-league debut. The problem is, that debut came the first week of June, not April, and for that reason a lot of folks -- including the players and Chuck Manuel -- decided Strasburg isn't deserving.
We'll get to that soon, because it's a reasonable argument, but first I have to deal with the unreasonable NL players, who picked the Nationals' mediocre closer and not the Nationals' sensational ace. And I feel badly for Matt Capps, because he doesn't deserve this, much like Royals pitcher Mark Redman didn't deserve the crap he caught in 2006 when someone from the Royals had to make the American League All-Star team, and Redman -- who was 6-4 with a 5.27 ERA and a paltry 32 strikeouts in 14 starts -- was the guy. Redman got toasted in the media, but it wasn't his fault. The rules had to be followed, and Redman got the call.
Now, Capps is that guy. Capps has done a decent job as a closer, with 22 saves in 26 chances and a 3.19 ERA, but he has given up considerably more than one hit per inning (44 in 36 2/3 innings). Batters are hitting .289 against him. For a closer, Matt Capps is a pretty decent set-up man.
But what do I know? Matt Capps is an All-Star, and Stephen Strasburg isn't.
Look, if that's the way things are going to be, I don't want to know. This is asinine. NL players are asinine. Charlie Manuel is asinine. Matt Capps over Stephen Strasburg? Really?
In a bizarre turn of events, Strasburg has thrown the exact number of innings as Matt Capps. And in his 36 2/3 innings, Strasburg has struck out many more batters (53 for Strasburg, to 32 for Capps), allowed many fewer hits (29 to 44) and posted an ERA of nearly three-fourths of run lower (2.45 to 3.19). Opposing hitters are batting .215 against Strasburg.
So if the point of the All-Star game is to win it, and to win the World Series home-field advantage that comes with it, why would NL players pick Capps over Strasburg?
The point of the All-Star game isn't the home-field advantage, though, and you know it. That was a Bud Selig edict, and this game isn't about Bud Selig -- it's a fan showcase. This game is not for Selig, not for the players, not for Charlie Manuel, not for the crotchety old baseball writers in the press box. It's for me, watching on television. It's for you, listening on the radio. And if any of us would rather watch, or listen to, Matt Capps over Stephen Strasburg, then we're stupid.
And I'm not stupid. Are you?
Scott Miller's Weekend Buzz
Most of us -- all of us -- are fascinated by Strasburg, as well we should be. He's the best pitching prospect to come along since God was blowing 98-mph cheese past Lucifer. And Strasburg's fastball is a lot faster than 98 mph.
The doubters among you -- we'll call you, hmmm, Thomas -- will complain that the system is broken, that fans shouldn't influence the shape of the roster. And that's fine. That's a valid argument ... for another day.
Not this day.
These are the rules. This is the system. The All-Star Game's starting lineups are determined by the fans, which is why the Cleveland Indians' Sandy Alomar was the American League's starting catcher in 1991 despite playing in just 39 games in the first half of the season, and playing poorly in those 39 games (.241 batting average, .287 on-base percentage). And why Cal Ripken started at shortstop in the 2001 All-Star Game despite hitting just .240 with four home runs at the break. Fans want to see who fans want to see ... and this year, fans want to see Stephen Strasburg.
It's not like he's a no-results freak show. Since being promoted to the big leagues -- and promoted late, I might add, because the Nationals were too cheap to promote him earlier -- Strasburg has been one of the five best pitchers in all of baseball. He is just 2-2, but that's because he plays for the Nationals. His ERA is 2.45. He averages 13 strikeouts per nine innings. He allows 7.1 hits per nine innings. He is a bona fide superstar. Fans want to see those kinds of players.
Complaining about the sanity of this fan-friendly system now, and protesting the All-Star candidacy of Stephen Strasburg, is as misguided as standing outside a Barnum & Bailey event and protesting the treatment of circus elephants. If those do-gooders truly cared about elephant abuse, they'd get their ass to Africa and protest the poachers who roam the land with bazookas, blowing holes in an elephant just to steal its ivory tusks -- leaving the creature to die from the gunshot wound, or dehydration, or the hyenas. Whatever does the trick. Protest that. Don't protest a circus that feeds, houses and medicates elephants.
Sorry. Tangent there. And don't get lost here. No, I'm not comparing Stephen Strasburg's All-Star snub with elephant cruelty. See the forest here, not the trees. Or the elephants. See the analogy, and I stand by the analogy: If you doubting Thomases really cared about the anarchic way we pick the All-Star rosters, you'd have made your voice heard way before now, and over players much less deserving than Stephen Strasburg in 2010.
Unless you really thought Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek deserved to be picked by the AL players in 2008 when he was hitting .218 with more strikeouts than hits. Or unless you really think Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina deserves to start the 2010 All-Star Game. He's hitting .231. He has three home runs. He can block a wild pitch, but nobody's tuning into the All-Star Game to watch Molina make a kick-save with his shin guards.
We want to see greatness. Yadier Molina ain't it.
Stephen Strasburg is. But he'll be watching on TV with the rest of us -- watching scores of players inferior to himself.