Monday, July 13, 2009

All-Star Game? More Like All-Star LAME (Not Really, We Love The All-Star Game)

Although all the crappy and roid-fueled big leaguers (except Ryan Franklin) are on sabbatical, it's time for the big-money superstars to shine. Tonight brings us the Home Run Derby, or as I like to call it A Thousand Dollar Ticket To Watch Batting Practice. Tomorrow is the All-Star Game, and Wednesday is absolutely nothing except the fucking ESPY awards. Seamheads, that's always a nice day to wrap your mouth around the barrel of a semiautomatic pistol.

It would be real easy for the All-Stars in the HoG universe to take a three-day hiatus of our own. The hell with that--we've lined up some frolicking festivities for the break. I had a little All-Star chat with old pal Rustoleum, which follows here. Rusto is our token Yankee fan as well as the lifelong nemesis of Banky. Later in the week look for our famous Midseason Report Cards on all the divisions in baseball. Except the Centrals. Because I'm doing those, and I prefer to let them stew til September.

Old No. 7: The All-Star Game is Tuesday, and This Time It Counts. Every time Bud Selig makes a decision I hate it initially but I usually end up coming around--he's a sneaky old fuck that Bud. I thought connecting home field in the World Series was his dumbest notion ever, yet it occurred to me today that it does make this game more compelling. It's still insanely stupid, but is it possible that Bud Selig saved the All-Star Game?

Rustoleum: I suppose the ratings reflect that his idea has worked, but I still don’t think he’s saved it. Let’s face it, it’s still an exhibition. I think the biggest issues are that they need to stop requiring that all teams have a representative and that the offensive starters remain in the game the entire way. This way you can ensure that no shitty Royals make the team and that there is still interest deeper into the game. It would just be more compelling if Pujols or Teixeira were facing Mariano or K-Rod late with the game still undecided. Instead you’re getting Curtis Granderson or Orlando Hudson coming up in the biggest moments of the game. Nothing against those guys, but I’d rather be seeing the best vs. the best. What would you do to improve the game as a whole (Vitamin B-12 shots in the dugout notwithstanding)?

7: I’m torn on mandatory representation. The All-Star Game is a big, important event. It marks the middle of the season, and it’s something that all fans, even half-ass fans, can pay attention to. I don’t have a problem with a lone Royal or Pirate making it every year even if that single player is not worthy of being an All-Star, with one major exception. That exception is that the game is very, very important to what happens in October, and from that standpoint being forced to take that Royal or Pirate sucks.

My solution is allowing players to re-enter the game on a limited basis. This should be the case anyway for catchers in every game—too many managers are hamstrung at the end of games because they’re worried about going down to one catcher with no backup and thus they don’t pinch-hit when they should. But at the All-Star Game, what be wrong with Pujols starting, being pulled for Prince Fielder or whoever in the fifth, then coming back in to pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth? Everybody wins, except the poor AL pitcher that has to get him out.

The favorite pastime when rosters come out is debating who got screwed. Let's go through the formalities--who were the biggest snubs, and which selections were the most off base?

Rusto: I actually think the rosters are pretty solid. Of course you could certainly question the fans voting in Josh Hamilton, but that’s who they wanted to see. One might say that Jason Marquis may not deserve to be there based on prior years (and who the fuck is Jason Marquis?), but he’s been pretty sharp this year. Still, I think Chris Carpenter or Yovani Gallardo might be more deserving. Wakefield’s questionable, yet he leads the AL in wins and if the game goes extras he could easily pitch 30 innings...for both teams. I definitely questioned why Aaron Hill got in over Ian Kinsler. I think Kinsler is a future star (if not a present one), and that’s what this game is about. But Hill has had a solid first half and got in, deservedly so. Shin-Soo Choo and Matt Kemp also probably feel a bit hosed, but who really cares? There are many players who have had good enough first halves, but players have to be left out. I know you thought “The Sheriff” Mark Reynolds might have had a case, who else am I forgetting here? And How many times did you vote for Manny?

7: Kemp got hosed three times—he should have made it in the first time, he should have been voted in on the Last Man interwebs reality show, and he should have been Carlos Beltran’s injury replacement instead of Charlie Manuel selecting every single Phillie (Philly?). I think Kemp is one of the 30 best players in baseball, let alone one of the 33 best in his league, but Joe Torre won’t even bat him higher than seventh in his own lineup. Maybe he’s cursed.

Pablo Sandoval has a similar case, only he’s even more important to his team than Kemp is. Everyone knew the Dodgers would be good and that the Giants had great pitching, but Fat Ichiro is a major reason San Francisco has the NL’s second-best record. Plus, the NL has more need for a 3B than another outfielder, and Kung Fu Panda can play first and even catch in a pinch.

On the AL side, I am in total agreeance that Wake shouldn’t be there and Kinsler should, but I like the idea of making the knuckleballer the all-time pitcher for both teams after the 14th inning—kind of like in sandlot football when you had an uneven number of players.

I did not submit an All-Star ballot this year—I shirked my civic responsibility. I blame the newborn and my wife’s unrealistic demands that I help out around the house. Had I voted, I would have stuffed the box for Manny—he’s one of the best hitters alive and I don’t think we should discriminate against a man who’s trying to have a baby. Childbirth is a miracle—a loud, annoying, expensive, shit-stained miracle.

I've always felt that there was nothing wrong with fans picking their favorite players. If they want to watch Cal Ripken 20 years in a row, even after Cal was done and there were a hundred better infielders available, fuck it. It's the fan's game. What do you think--should the general public still get to vote for starters?

Rusto: I guess so, it is the “Fan’s Game,” as long as you drop a couple hundred when you go. I definitely feel I should get a vote or twenty five. Still, there’s always a botched pick here and there (Josh Hamilton). Overall, though, I feel the fans do a pretty good job. With the Internet and as big as fantasy sports are nowadays, I think people are getting a broader view of which players truly deserve to be in the game. I’d still rather see it done the way the NFL does it with a one-third fan vote, one-third coaches, and one-third players.

7: I hope the fans always get to vote for the starters. However they divvy up the rest of the team doesn’t matter much to me, so long as they don’t let the media vote. These God damned jackass writers already fuck up the MVP, the Cy Young and the Hall of Fame, leave the All-Star Game alone.

As for reserves, Bud's World Series gimmick has made me reconsider how I'd build a roster. Because, you know, This Time It Counts. No longer do I care about simply rewarding a guy for a nice first half, I want the players who provide the best opportunities to win in late-game situation. Sure, Marquis has been fantastic and "deserves" to be an All-Star. But if I'm Manuel, and the game is tied in the 8th with two on, and my chances for defending my title at home are on the line, am I giving the ball to Jason Fucking Marquis? No God damned way. Give me Gallardo or Hamels or even The Unit, guys that can generate a strikeout and/or have been there in tough spots and come through (even if their '09 stats aren't as good as Marquis'). Same deal with Manny or A-Rod versus, say, Freddie Sanchez. How would you put the end of your bench together?

Rusto: I’m inclined to agree with you, although both you and I know that A-Rod is far from clutch. Problem is those guys only shot of making the game was to be voted in by the fans. They clearly haven’t had All-Star type seasons, be it injury or trying to conceive, and wouldn’t be picked by the managers. I tried my hardest to get Manny in, but apparently others didn’t see the value in trying to stick it to Bud. I found it odd that so many relievers were included on the roster. If I were to put together the roster, I’d want mainly stud starting pitchers who could give me 2-3 innings and maybe two bad ass closers. Off the bench I’d mainly like bombers. Since the starters would be playing the whole game, I’d only need the bench for walk off bombs. As always, steroid shots would be recommended and no Royals allowed. Doesn’t it make more sense to have starters to go longer considering the extra inning games the All-Star Game has had recently? What do you think about the fielders playing in games until the end? I heard, recently, that Dave Winfield played like 12 of 13 innings in one All-Star Game.

7: If I were an All-Star manager, I would take no more than five starting pitchers. Only one gets the start anyway, and it’s really hard to bring those guys in on short notice or to tough situations. The rest should be relievers—closers, middle men, whatever—who are used to dropping into weird spots at the end of games. Buster Olney’s idea was to find the pitchers with the best splits against righties and lefties and just make as many changes in the late innings as necessary. He’s a lot smarter than me, and he should be the next Commissioner of Baseball.

I think defense is not nearly as big a consideration as it should be with reserves. Look at the NL bench—none of those guys are what I would consider excellent fielders, and Miguel Tejada as the lone backup shortstop is just inviting an easy run or two for the Americans. What would be wrong with saving a spot for someone like Franklin Gutierrez, Carlos Gonzalez or Elvis Andrus? I know they can’t hit, but as a late sub in the field they can change a game.

Is a 33-man roster the right size?

Rusto: Maybe in the Ted Williams Frozen Head fantasy league, but in the All-Star Game it’s just too much. Managers feel obligated to get everyone in, there’s very little continuity with that. I think 25 man rosters with 8 fielders, 6 bench players, and the rest pitchers… and no Royals. What do you think, should there be Royals allowed to play?

7: Normally I would have squelched all of your Royal slanderation early on, as this is the House of Georges—recently voted the 96th-best Royals blog on the whole Interwebs. But KC is playing a series against my Red Sox this weekend, and they keep making trades for awful baseball players like Ryan Freel and Yuniesky Betancourt. So fuck them, fuck them straight in the face. No Royals on the All-Star roster.

As I said before, though, I kind of like the fact that every team gets an All-Star, just not when This Time It Counts. The solution, especially with massive teams numbering 33 a side, is for the managers to have some balls. You don’t have to play everyone, and if these guys are going to act like little bitches because they don’t get in fuck them straight in the face too.

This is why I love it when guys make it for the first time. They’re happy to be there, they play hard, and they don’t care if they don’t get in. I’, also glad that Jeff Kent is no longer playing baseball—if he made the All-Star Game and Manuel didn’t put him in he’d murder that old bastard right in the dugout.

What about the uniforms? Should they all wear one set of duds or do you dig it when the players sport their own team's threads?

Rusto: Last I saw, I didn’t have a vagina and I don’t give a fuck. If you’d like, I could have my wife answer this one. She always likes to comment about the players “costumes.” But please, I’d love to hear your opinion on this.

7: Don’t act like uniforms don’t matter. How would you feel if your Yankees starting wearing some of the bullshit batting-practice gear that you see these days? What if they added yellow as one of their colors? Did you have no reaction at all when the Broncos switched their uniforms, or when the D’Bags switched from purple-and-teal to the same red that every other team in baseball wears?

Personally, I think it’s cool when the All-Stars wear their own unis—I hate the jerseys they wear at the Home Run Derby.

Who's going to win this year? Because This Time It Counts.

Rusto: The National Leagues has a pretty good track record as they haven’t won in over a least they have a tie. Frankly, though, the fans are the real winners here. Because This Time It Counts...sort of.

7: Put me down for a 5-2 AL win, as Poo Holes is so surprised to have protection in the lineup he goes 0-for-3.


Cecil said...

"Last I saw, I didn’t have a vagina"

Look closer.

Dylan said...

take a closer look.
when the biggest triangle, of the "iron triangle" out-trianglates you... you bes' take a good look at your triangle.