Collier: All-Star break poor timing for Pirates
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Perhaps you will be relieved to know that this isn't just another of those columns by some cranky old baseball purist who used to love the All-Star Game but now hates the All-Star Game.
Nope, not from me.
I've always hated it.
Hated it when I was 7, and hate it at 57, and hate it that the mid-summer bummer is about to trash the gentle, soothing rhythms of another baseball season for no compelling reason that I've ever been able to identify.
After all this time, the rudeness of the interruption remains my primary objection. Thanks to this ill-advised pseudo-spectacle, there will be no baseball games Monday, which is bad, and if it's not bad enough, there will be no baseball games Wednesday, which is borderline intolerable. In the case of the Pirates, after a rub-a-dub today against the Cubs, there will be no game until Friday. In the baseball memory of most fans born after 1987, any four-day interruption in Pirates baseball is considered a blessed event, but not this year.
Do you really want to take a four-day break from watching manager Clint Hurdle's team just to see how many New York Yankees can avoid flying to Phoenix?
Derek Jeter felt well enough on New York's just-ended road trip to set up his 3,000th-hit coronation at Yankee Stadium by the weekend, but announced Friday he wouldn't be at the All-Star Game.
He would rather rest, he said.
That's the honest truth, I'm positive, but it's a hell of a thing to say to the people who punched and/or clicked 4,536,386 All-Star ballots on the now erroneous assumption that No. 2 wanted to be there. Instead of punching The Official MLB All-Star Ballot Brought To You By Sprint, they should have been using the official ballot brought to you by Sominex, listing the people who would rather rest.
No sooner did Jeter bail than A-Fraud Rodriguez decided he would be better served getting his various infirmities ready for the second half of the season. He's right, of course, but A-Fraud's sudden issuing of regrets smacks of baseball's classical post-modern "I ain't goin' if he ain't goin'" ethos, a phenomenon that might be better described as ego-flatulence.
Too bad Manny Ramirez is in Spain somewhere. I would love to hear why he would rather not be in Arizona Tuesday night at Chase Field.
Not that Jeter deserved to go anyway, by the way. He was hitting .257 at the weekend with two homers and 22 RBIs, and no league that should exist has room for that on an All-Star team.
As Howard Cosell once famously said of the sporting audience, "Don't listen to the crowd; they know nothing."
This is why Bob Costas should just pick the All-Star teams. Or, if Costas is busy, Jennifer Lopez. It really doesn't matter because if the All-Star Game has proven anything, it's that the wrong combination of people are playing in it no matter how they are selected.
The fans' balloting track record is almost hysterically bad, but do not pine for the era when the players, coaches, and managers picked the teams, because then as now, the capability of that electorate is dubious at best.
Asked in his office the other day a question about scoreboard watching, of all things, Hurdle shrugged and said, "We've probably got some guys who look at the scoreboard every time it flips, and we've probably got some guys who don't even know we have a scoreboard out there."
We laughed, as we sometimes do at the truth. You want to hand All-Star ballots to the guys who are unaware that there's a scoreboard at PNC Park?
The current selection system is multi-tiered and includes fan balloting for starting lineups, player balloting for pitchers and some reserves, and a manager's prerogative to fill holes and make sure every club is represented. One closed-door meeting of the California Prune Advisory Board would likely yield very similar results.
One problem -- and seriously, no one column could even enumerate the problems with the All-Star Game -- is roster size. When the National League All-Star team is bigger than the crowd at a Marlins game, it's small wonder that players feel snubbed when they're not included.
I would be for eliminating a lot of the late suspense. Baseball should release the names of a few dozen players daily, beginning on opening day, who have been eliminated from All-Star consideration for various arbitrary reasons.
Here's a sample, because I'm ever helpful.
Anyone who hits into a triple play is eliminated immediately, as is anyone wearing a number in the 60s, which, I know, eliminates the entire Pirates offensive line (No. 62 Josh Harrison, No. 63 Chris Leroux, No. 65 Tony Watson and No. 69 Eric Fryer). Anyone who sneezes himself onto the disabled list (such as Cardinals pitcher Brian Tallet) is eliminated, as is anyone caught wearing a Kansas City Royals uniform. Finally, eliminate any batter found to be routinely exceeding the industry standard for fastening and unfastening his batting gloves, the standard currently being 14 times per at-bat.
Sounds like a lot of work, but it's worth it.
Costas could do it. Or J-Lo.
First Published July 10, 2011 12:00 am