SBD/July 11, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

MLB Sees Record Number Of Players Withdraw From All-Star Game

Sabathia, Jeter and Rodriguez (l to r) among All-Stars not playing in game

MLB over the weekend faced a historically large flurry of All-Star Game roster substitutions, some injury driven and others resulting from the league’s new rule that pitchers throwing on the Sunday before the game are no longer eligible. A total of 84 players, more than 11% of all MLB players on active rosters, have been named an All-Star initially or been designated an injury replacement. Among the players dropping out from the event over the weekend was Yankees SS Derek Jeter, who will not play despite drawing more than 4.5 million fan votes and recording a five-hit game Saturday as he surpassed the 3,000-hit mark for his career (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner indicated that this year’s “mass All-Star exodus is more about ‘circumstance’ than an indication that players don’t care about the All-Star Game.” Weiner: “By and large, I think players are excited to participate in the game. I think we happened to have a series of circumstances this year, including a lot of Sunday starters, that have led to this situation.” ESPN.com's Jayson Stark noted what “raised eyebrows around the sport" was the fact just four players who requested injury replacements were "on the disabled list” as of yesterday. The withdrawal of “three marquee names for the Yankees" -- Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera -- has been a "source of consternation among executives for other clubs and among fans.” But Rodriguez is scheduled to have knee surgery today and Jeter "just came off" the DL. Players who withdraw from the All-Star team “after being selected still qualify for their bonuses, regardless of whether they play in the game or show up for the festivities” (ESPN.com, 7/10).

DOES MLB LOOK BAD? ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" last night featured a discussion about the number of All-Stars pulling out of the game, and ESPN's Karl Ravech said, "This is not a good for ... Major League Baseball. The attendance is down a little bit, the sport needs to be relevant and this is your summer showcase. You’ve got ‘This Counts’ and players kind of telling you, ‘No, it really doesn’t. We’re not going.’” ESPN’s John Kruk said the players who elected by the fans “should be at the All-Star Game, whether they can play or not,” because that’s “what the fans wanted to see.” ESPN’s Barry Larkin said not going to the All-Star Game “just because it’s a little uncomfortable -- I think everybody has a problem with that” ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 7/10).

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