Since by definition I’m in the opinion business, I might as well throw out a few on this whole National League All-Star roster situation before I go on vacation tomorrow. Some of these opinions might be as strong and on-the-mark as a Pablo Sandoval toss from third base when he has time to get set; others might veer off course and sail into the opposing dugout like throws from a hurried, charging Panda.
— David Wright’s numbers — both this year and since 2005 — dwarf Sandoval’s. Wright has played 76 games and his OPS is over 1.000. Sandoval has played in 31 fewer contests and his OPS is .833. Yet, as Grant Brisbee pointed out…
It’s not the Pablo Sandoval selection that gets me. Sandoval is a well-known, popular player, both in his home market and around the league. He’s also been good for a while. Those kinds of players make All-Star teams. Derek Jeter makes every All-Star team, even if he’s hitting .260/.300/.300. Direct democracy can be annoying, but in 20 years, it will have totally made sense that Jeter or Sandoval started the All-Star Game. Once you reach a certain fame/talent threshold, the arguments for or against starting an All-Star Game shouldn’t be that fierce. Historically, teams picked using first-half success alone would be far, far worse than teams made from established stars.
Wait, I started this post of opinions with an opinion from Brisbee. Maybe I should try and add something to that…
— Sandoval is unique, which explains why he is “a well-known, popular player.” He doesn’t run, trot or walk to his position, as much as he bounces. He’s rotund and can hit, and heavyset guys who can hit have been fan favorites since the days of Babe Ruth. The NL All-Star Team featured Tony Gwynn for years, and John Kruk’s at-bat against a purposely wild Randy Johnson is one of the All-Star Game’s great moments.
Back to Sandoval: besides the indiscretion in Santa Cruz (in case you’re wondering, the Santa Cruz Cty Sheriff says it “will put out a press release on the Pablo Sandoval case the week of July 2-6”), he’s one of the players who represents the word “joy” in the hearts of fans as much as anyone in the game — besides A.J. Pierzynski, of course. Sandoval spending the first three-to-five innings at third won’t hurt anything.
— Everyone who’s still talking about Freddy Sanchez, Aubrey Huff, or your sister’s favorite Brandon almost making the team will probably find different topics to worry about by … tomorrow.
— Put it this way: that’s why the fans only vote in the All-Star starters, and not the entire team.
— With Melky Cabrera getting over 7 million votes, it’s hard to believe the volume of votes the Giants received was based 100% on the work of several thousand energetic Giants fans with dozens of free time hours at their disposal. In the past couple years, people have hacked Linkedin, BART, Citigroup, the U.S. government and Sony, along with several other institutions. Is it that hard to believe Silicon Valley Giants fans could have cracked MLB.com’s code?
— Plus, what does MLB care? The voting numbers were ginormous, the rosters sparked conversation, and they harvested millions of email addresses (which is what they really care about). Because everyone needs an update the next time Giants jerseys for cats are 15% off — TODAY ONLY!!!!
— Some might call for a return to the punch-ballot system of yesteryear, when voting meant you’d miss entire at-bats while you delicately tried to pull off a hanging chad without tearing the card and making it look like you voted for two players at the same position. We all know online voting is here to stay, but why can’t it be a little more nimble?
Why was Freddy Sanchez on the ballot the entire time? The same could be asked about Aubrey Huff, Ryan Howard or Chase Utley. It would be interesting to see what percentage of the ballots filled out were done on paper. If the eligible players one can vote for are set before the season starts because the logistics of printing and shipping old school ballots requires it, maybe it’s time to think about dumping/revamping that part of the process. It wouldn’t keep guys like Brandon Belt or Brandon Crawford from finishing far too high at their respective positions, but nonetheless it’s a change that’s far overdue.
— Giants fans are understandably disappointed that neither Madison Bumgarner nor Ryan Vogelsong made the team (yet), but there are a couple reasons to take solace in their exclusion.
First, it’s hard to remember a Giants pitcher other than Brian Wilson who didn’t struggle in the All-Star Game, either in terms of numbers or pregame hydration.
Second, Bumgarner and Vogelsong have pitched fairly well thus far with chips on their shoulders, so perhaps this latest snub will make them even better.
Vogelsong says he has a lot to prove after every good start (which pretty means all of ’em). Whether he’s referring to Keith Olbermann, those who questioned the 2-year extension the Giants gave him before this season, or fantasy “experts” who rated him as a 2012 “bust” candidate, who knows. But now he’s pitching even angrier than before, as evidenced by his reaction to Bronson Arroyo’s brushback hijinks yesterday.
Bumgarner’s beef with the public at large? Not enough respect for the rotation as a whole. “In my mind it’s the best staff in baseball,” he told Amy G. after throwing a 1-hit shutout on Thursday against the Reds. When John Shea asked him about the Phillies rotation during the April press conference announcing Bumgarner’s contract extension (which for the Giants is a ridiculously good deal, like getting a new Porsche 911 for $18,995 with Toyota Corolla insurance rates), the 22-year-old said this:
“I mean, just look a the numbers. We got a pretty good rotation right now, ourselves. (The Phillies) obviously have a good one, and one of the best, but who knows how good we’ll be in a few years. I mean, I think we can be just as good, if not better.”
— In short, I’m having a tough time getting upset about any of this. It’s an exhibition game, the fans got what they wanted, and everyone will move onto the next controversy once Bryce Harper beats out Chipper Jones in the “FINAL VOTE.” Or maybe I don’t care because I’ll be in France when the All-Star Game is played. Yeah, that’s probably it.