Monday, July 6, 2009

The People Have Spoken!

The rosters for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, taking place July 14, were announced on Sunday. The Mets have 4 players, Boston has 6, the most of any team in either the American or National League, the World Champion Phillies have 3, with the possibility of 1 more if outfielder Shane Victorino wins an online vote for the last spot on the NL roster. The Yankees have 3, none of whom is named Alex Rodriguez. Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez didn't make the NL team, either. And, in all honesty, that's the beauty of it all.

The fans voted Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria as the starter at 3rd base for the AL over "A-Rod", and his peers didn't even consider Rodriguez for a slot, since he missed the first few weeks of the season due to a hip injury. He's not in line for the final slot on the AL roster. Manny tumbled down to the middle of the pack among NL outfielders, but 2 of the starters, the Mets' Carlos Beltran & Philadelphia's Raul Ibanez, are doubtful due to injury. If the players, managers, & coaches didn't want Manny any more than the fans did, and he's not on the online ballot (teammate Matt Kemp is), well, what does that say about Ramirez, fresh from a 50-game suspension?

What it really says is that MLB and its fans don't want the All-Star Break clouded with constant questions about steroids as it relates to Ramirez & Rodriguez. It would create a gigantic distraction from the game itself, not to mention a public relations nightmare. Ramirez already has dug a hole having his agent, Scott Boras (who also represents Rodriguez, among others), with him for a pre-game press conference in San Diego on Friday. Ramirez didn't want to talk about steroid use, no doubt on the advice of Boras, who's also a practicing lawyer. Such defiance before Congress destroyed what chances Mark McGwire had of being elected to the Hall of Fame. Ramirez is on the slope, teetering. So is Sammy Sosa, who up until a month ago was so sure he'd be Cooperstown-bound. That is, until his name came up among the 103 players, along with Rodriguez, who'd tested positive 6 years ago for performance enhancers. You'd think they'd have learned from the sad examples of McGwire & Rafael Palmiero, both of whom damaged themselves before Congress 4 years ago (Sosa was also there), but they didn't.

As long as Manny keeps saying he doesn't want to talk about it, the media will apply more pressure and keep after him until he does agree to talk. And as desperate as some networks are for programming, I'd not be surprised if someone offered Ramirez & Boras more money than they'd ever need to do---gulp---a reality show. Yeah, that's the last thing MLB and its television partners need. And I hope it never comes to that.

No comments: