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If All-Star snubs matter, let's make 'em really pay

by | CBSSports.com Columnist
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It's a hardy old perennial, this All-Star Snubs story, one way for people with an ax to grind to find something upon which to grind it. It really is one of the last great backhanded compliment in sports, along with "best player never to have won the big one," "best fighter pound for pound" and our favorite, "You wonder how well he could do on the big stage."

But somehow, the argument about who is the 34th best player in each league is a pretty silly one, a debate that resonates about as long as oatmeal stays hot. Even in a year with two sports in lockdown (even though neither one would be playing now anyway) and the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest (next to commissioners' opening speeches on Draft Night, the most nauseating 10 minutes in sports), the Snubs story dies its usual 24-hour death.

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Frankly, what we need to do here to make this a worthwhile tale is jack up the price for being snubbed. Massive fines to exceed the amount of the bonuses paid for making the team ... bringing the snubbed into a gigantic hall for a round of old-fashioned Maoist self-criticism and humiliation ... parading them at the All-Star Game as "The Ones Who Weren't Good Enough."

I mean, what's a snub now? Not even a snub-let. There are so many ways to get onto the All-Star team now, and so many spots available, that we are talking here about players in the 91st percentile in the National League, and the 90th in the American. And how are we as a society supposed to get outraged over the treatment of a kid with a B-plus?

Oh, many of you would say, "Fix the system," but that's nonsense. If Bud Selig fixes the All-Star Game one more time, it will be a full-on gelding. Fan vote, player vote, manager vote, mandatory backup designated hitter, Internet vote for the 34th man -- it is an idiocy po'boy, and every new idea makes it more idiotic.

But we know that Bud will never simplify the system because in his own benighted way, he loves complicated voting mechanisms and countervailing logic. See McCourt, Frank, for contemporary proof of Selig's penchant for tinkering.

So if you can't fix the system, you should at least change the value of the snub -- starting with not calling it a snub any more. The snub is the end of a spent cigar; what this needs to be is closer to a Cavalcade of Shame, as in:

Mr. Selig, if you want to 'enhance' the All-Star Game, let's do more with 'snubs.' (US Presswire)  
Mr. Selig, if you want to 'enhance' the All-Star Game, let's do more with 'snubs.' (US Presswire)  
 Bringing the shamed to the stadium and have them stand in line for will-call tickets that aren't there for the Home Run Derby.

 In the alternative, making the snub-ees shag the Home Run Derby. Or, for the pitchers, throw to the hitters. Frankly, a snubbed All-Star isn't going to be lobbing 'em in the way coaches do, and we'll see how difficult hitting a home run really is.

 For those pitchers who got caught in the Sunday-Before Rule (another stupid idea from The House Of Oh For God's Sake Will You Please Stop Thinking?), a full day of umpires squeezing the strike zone to Blackberry size in that Sunday game. "What are you complaining about? Make the All-Star team, then pop off."

 A televised baseball history quiz administered by the folks at the Elias Sports Bureau, with questions whose answers are found before 1985, since most players know less baseball history than Balkan history, and they know no Balkan history at all.

 Having the players stand outside the park naked except for one of those cartoon barrels, wearing signs around their necks that read, "I Got Selig'd."

 A gigantic cheese wheel sent to their homes.

 Frank McCourt sent to their homes.

 Frank McCourt's legal team sent to their homes.

 Bud Selig sent to their homes to explain the history of how the All-Star Game turned into a carnival pie-throwing contest.

You can think of your own ideas as well. This one isn't designed to change the system as much as it is designed to kill a few minutes of a long and tiresome day of smoke inhalation, but fixing the system is frankly too easy. All you'd really need to do is take the manager into a room, say, "These are the candidates from your team that we will permit to make the team, and now you fill out the other spots until every team is represented and you get to 30."

No wedding-cake voting tiers, no special 34th man voting, no 15 people in the room. And no winner-gets-home-field-advantage nonsense, either. That's what you have 126 interleague games for, genius.

But since we can't have anything that sensible, we need to jack up the price of the snub. Knowing how baseball actually works, maybe they could sell T-shirts and hoodies ($24.99, $64.99) with the pictures of the snubbed that read, "Not Good Enough." Or better yet, pictures of the people who thought of this system to begin with that reads, "What Happens When You're Bored and Drunk."

And that's giving them all the best of it.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com.

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