Baltimore Orioles: Musings On The All Star Game
The 2015 MLB All Star Game was last night as we know, and the AL roster featured four Baltimore Orioles – including Manny Machado. The NL roster also included some local guys as well, such as Washington’s Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer. Neither Scherzer, nor Darren O’Day of the Orioles were able to get into the game last night. Scherzer’s reason was very simple; he started on Sunday (against the O’s, of course). However in O’Day’s case it was a bit different.
First off, I like the fact that every team has to be represented on the roster. A lot of people do not, and that’s okay. I might even understand the point that it’s unfair for a token representative should be added from a team that’s presumably out of the race, replacing someone who might deserve it more. However baseball is America’s pastime, and in order for it to ensure that it always remains as such, sometimes it has to take it’s fate into it’s own hands.
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In saying that, I mean that I’ve always felt that every fan has the right to sit down to watch the all-star game and to thus have a member of his home team on the roster. Philadelphia has the worst record in baseball right now; yet fans in that market were still able to watch the game knowing that one of their own, Jonathan Papelbon, was on the roster (similar to O’Day, Papelbon didn’t appear in the game – and I’ll get to that in a moment). If you want baseball to thrive everywhere from the perspective of fan attention, those are just the sacrifices you have to make.
In contrast, the NBA and NHL do not require every team to be represented. Some people would say that they’re thus true all-star games because the players in the game are actually the most deserving in a sense (no token additions, in other words). But ask yourself – are those sports’ all-star celebrations as popular as MLB’s? This is not to say that a very bad team can’t have an all-star, because they can. But if the team from your town is flailing in the wind and they don’t have an all-star in the game, what incentive do you have to watch the game?
The all-star game in any sport certainly isn’t everything, but it’s something. The idea is that it showcases the best your sport has to offer. I would submit that it also keeps interest fresh, especially among young people. So that’s why it’s a good thing that MLB (and the NFL) requires each team to be represented. This is just my view – feel free to disagree.
However there were also players, such as the aforementioned Jonathan Papelbon and Darren O’day, who didn’t get into the game at all. I would submit that if you’re on the roster, you should play in the game (barring injury). Some folks might say that the game is just an exhibition (that decides home field advantage in the World Series), however athletes look at this as an honor. Furthermore to piggyback on what I said above, fans should be able to see their guy in the game and thus know he participated and added something in some way.
I suppose that if I were a Phillies fans I wouldn’t really be happy at knowing that my lone representative didn’t get into the game. Now I’ll certainly grant you that with the game now having stakes, managers might tend to take it a bit more seriously in the sense that they might not choose to change pitchers after every at-bat in the name of getting someone into the game. But again, this game is for the fans. It’s not unreasonable for a fan to expect his team to be represented both on the roster and in the game.
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Some folks are going to disagree with this, and that’s okay. This is just how I see things. One might argue, if it’s an exhibition for the fans, why should a token player replace a true all star just so his team is represented? And that might well be a fair question to ask. But I would remind people that no system is perfect.
In that vain, keep in mind that as a society we now try to find the perfect system in anything and everything. And for the most part there’s always going to be a hole somewhere in every solution. Yes, a more deserving player might miss out on the festivities so that a Philadelphia Phillie or Milwaukee Brewer can be added to the roster. That’s just how the ball bounces sometimes. But as I said, that keeps interest in markets that perhaps have a struggling team at that moment, and thus it’s good for the game. And keep in mind…Baltimore was that market for a long period of time.
Orioles update: As last night’s all-star game was getting underway, the Orioles made a roster move. They designated Wesley Wright for assignment, removing him from the roster. If he clears waivers and isn’t traded, he’ll either have the option of accepting a minor league assignment with the O’s or becoming a free agent.
Next: Baltimore Orioles: Manny Machado among others key in AL win