The 2010 All-Star Game will be played in Anaheim on July 13, and the rosters will be announced sometime in the next few days. Voting ended last night, and this year, I didn't even bother. I try to avoid the sheep mentality and go by who's actually the best at their positions on a year-to-year basis, and not get caught up in the popularity polls.
The biggest controversy this year surrounds Washington rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who will carry a 2-2 record going into Saturday's game vs. the Mets. The debate is over whether or not Strasburg, whose every move up the ladder in the Nationals' chain has been scrutinzed by MLB Network, ESPN, and everyone else, deserves to be in the game after being in the majors less than a month. It's supposed to be up to Philadelphia's Charlie Manuel, the NL manager, to decide, but I'd not be surprised if in fact there's a little nudging coming from MLB suits to add Strasburg in order to juice up ratings for Fox's telecast of the game, not to mention MLB Network's pre-game hype-a-thon. That's really what it comes down to. Ratings, ad revenues. Money in the bank.
Now, don't get me wrong. I've seen Strasburg pitch on TV, both with Washington and in minor-league games for Syracuse (Thank you, Time Warner Cable). I just believe that he doesn't belong in this year's game after just a few weeks in the bigs. I don't think that's ever happened before in the history of the All-Star Game. If you're an MLB suit and you think it's that important, then you're alienating fans of other teams who have players more deserving of a slot on the roster. Then again, that happens every year anyway. Don't you think the kid needs a little vacation instead of being sent to Anaheim as if he's baseball's newest savior? I do. I just can't see him being used like a corporate puppet, his talent exploited for maximum gain. It isn't fair to Strasburg any more than it is for anyone else.
A talent like Stephen Strasburg comes along at least once every generation. It would be nice if the kid actually had a long, healthy, successful, Hall-of-Fame-caliber career, instead of being treated like a circus showpiece.
Now, let me give you my idea of who should be starting for each team on July 13.
1B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit.
2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees.
SS: Derek Jeter, Yankees.
3B: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay.
C: Joe Mauer, Minnesota.
OF: Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle; Vernon Wells, Toronto; Denard Span, Minnesota.
DH (because it's an AL park): David Ortiz, Boston.
Starting pitcher: Phil Hughes, Yankees.
1B: Albert Pujols, St. Louis.
2B: Kelly Johnson, Arizona.
SS: Jose Reyes, Mets.
3B: David Wright, Mets.
C: Yadier Molina, St. Louis.
OF: Andre Ethier, Los Angeles; Alfonso Soriano, Chicago; Jayson Werth, Philadelphia.
DH: Chipper Jones, Atlanta.
Starting pitcher: Ubaldo Jiminez, Colorado.
Most, if not all, of the above-named players are likely to be in Anaheim anyway, but these would be the most ideal lineups. I have Chipper as the DH because 1) he has been injured more often than not and 2) there are hints that this may be his final season. The sheep don't pay attention to statistics, especially when voting for home team stars. That's understandable, but it also creates boring lineups that repeat year after year. I try to avoid picking players that have been injured, though Chipper & Reyes are exceptions to the rule this year.
Who would you rather see? I'd like to know.