Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Anonymous All-Star

Great article in the New York Times about Andrew Bailey, the A's closer and sole representative to the A.L. All-Star team. You can forgive yourself for saying, Who? In fact, Bailey wasn't the only head-scratcher of an All-Star this year. I'm hard-pressed to name the teams represented by Freddy Sanchez, Hunter Pence, Josh Johnson, Ben Zobrist, and Brian Fuentes.

But that's what you get when you require that every team gets a representative. I'm happy for those guys, who may never get this chance again. But you can hardly call those guys "stars."

However, it's not as if past All-Star games featured only big stars and future Hall of Famers. Just taking a random gander at some past games, we find the following forgotten All-Stars:

1933 (the inaugural game): General Crowder, Oral Hildebrand, Sam West, Tony Cuccinello, Woody English, Jimmie Wilson
1941: Sid Hudson, Thornton Lee (immortalized in the great song "Van Lingle Mungo"), Marius Russo, Harry Danning, Lonny Frey, Hank Lieber, Eddie Miller, Al Benton
1965*: Max Alvis, Jimmie Hall, Bob Lee, John O'Donoghue, Turk Farrell, Sammy Ellis
1977: Wayne Gross, Jim Kern, Jim Slaton, Butch Wynegar, Willie Montanez, John Stearns
1989: Mark Gubicza, Greg Swindell, Tim Burke
1996 (the most recent NL victory): Roger Pavlik, Dan Wilson, Ricky Bottalico, Henry Rodriguez, Eric Young

One of the problems with the All-Star Game, in my opinion, is that the people picking the squad feel they have to reward every player who has put together a fine half-season, regardless of whether they're actual stars. I would prefer to see actual stars, even if they're having a bad season, rather than anonymous guys who put together a good few months. Sure, they'll feel snubbed, but if they really have what it takes to be a star, they'll earn their spot next year.

*Side note: Check out the firepower on the NL team that year: Aaron, Allen, Banks, Clemente, Mays, Robinson, Rose, Santo, Stargell, Williams; on the mound, Koufax, Drysdale, Marichal, Gibson. Wow. And it was a great game, too.

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