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MLB All-Star Game's Importance Questioned Amid Increased Player Withdrawals
Published July 12, 2011
Yesterday’s workout at Chase Field included more talk about the absence of players like Yankees SS Derek Jeter from tonight's MLB All-Star Game "than those actually playing,” fueling debate about "whether baseball needs to re-examine the game process,” according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Brewers LF Ryan Braun, unable to participate in the All-Star Game due to a calf strain, said, “An event like this isn’t quite the same when you’re missing a guy like Derek.” Jeter is one of 16 players “selected who will not play, with six pitchers disqualified after pitching Sunday.” D’Backs President & CEO Derrick Hall said, “I’m disappointed in players, without injury, who would decide not to come. It’s something, as an industry, that we need to find a solution for” (USA TODAY, 7/12). ESPN’s Karl Ravech noted there were 32 million votes from fans for the All-Star Game starters, “which means there’s a huge emphasis for the people to say, ‘You either fill it out or you text it in and these guys will respond.’" Ravech: "That lack of response is a big story. By the way, baseball and the players' association are aware of it. They know it’s a problem” ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 7/11).
OH CAPTAIN? In N.Y., Mark Feinsand cites an MLB exec as saying, “Derek Jeter has done everything right during his whole career. He was wrong on this one.” One source indicated that “not even Joe Torre could talk Jeter into showing up to the All-Star Game," as Jeter chose to "take three days to himself after his emotional week” during which he recorded his 3,000th career hit. Phillies Chair and Honorary President of the NL Bill Giles said, “It’s too bad that Jeter in particular is not here, because of what he accomplished over the weekend. I think it is a bit of a problem and baseball should study it” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/12). FOXSPORTS.com's Rosenthal & Morosi cite two sources as saying Jeter is not in Phoenix due to "emotional and physical exhaustion" from the 3,000 hit chase. However, Giants P Brian Wilson yesterday said that players "who are elected or selected to an All-Star team should participate in the festivities unless they are too limited physically to attend" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/12). Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said of Jeter, "He’s the face of everything right now in the sport after what he did on Saturday. He’s got to be there. I’m disappointed. This doesn’t fit into the whole Derek Jeter ‘I always know how to say and do the right thing’ image” (“PTI,” ESPN, 7/11). ESPN's Tim Kurkjian said MLB "is disappointed that Derek Jeter is not here," as he is the "face of baseball." Kurkjian: "I am really surprised he is not here because I know he really loves this event. ... We all understand that he is mentally exhausted from everything he’s been through here, and I’m sure his calf isn’t feeling 100%. ... But having said all that, I thought he would be here and I think he should be here” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 7/12). Baseball writer Murray Chass wrote Commissioner Bud Selig “needs to call” Yankees co-Chair and Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner “and tell him, using his ‘best interests of baseball’ authority that Jeter has to be in Phoenix” (MURRAYCHASS.com, 7/10).
ALL ABOUT WHO'S MISSING: Padres P Heath Bell said, “If you’re hurt, you’re hurt. That’s perfectly fine. (But) come here to tip your hat (to the fans). It’s an honor to be here. I think sometimes when you make the team 10 (or) 15 times in a row, it just becomes like another game to you. This game is for the fans. They want to see us and want to have fun” (WASHINGTON POST, 7/12). In Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt notes Braun, despite removing himself from the game, “felt obligated to attend the event after leading all NL players in balloting by fans” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/12). Braun said the All-Star Game does not lose relevance, but added, "It definitely loses some luster, especially when some of the big-name guys don’t come” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/12). Indians P Chris Perez said, “This is for the fans, and I feel like if you’re voted in from the fans, even if you’re not going to play, you should show up.” But White Sox 1B Paul Konerko said that fans “should give Jeter a break.” Konerko: “This is the one thing everybody should just let him slide. … The guy’s been doing it for a long time. … Maybe this should be the one time to give him a free pass instead of him doing everything for everybody all the time” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/12).
CHOOSING VACATION: Cubs 3B Aramis Ramirez was asked to play in the game after the Phillies' Placido Polanco and the Braves' Chipper Jones withdrew due to injuries, but Ramirez declined the invite. Comcast SportsNet Chicago‘s David Kaplan said of Ramirez, "He said, ‘Well, if you would have asked me 24 hours earlier I would have gone, but I have plans in the Dominican to hang with the family.’ I find it to be disgusting and so out of touch with the fans of today.” Former MLBer Todd Hollandsworth said, “I really struggled to wrap my mind around it today. I think he's kind of misplaced his emotions in this situation. ... I really can't express my level of disappointment. I think he represents the Cubs, he represents the city of Chicago, not only does he represent himself. This isn't an individualized moment" ("Chicago Tribune Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 7/11).
CAN'T SEE THE STARS: In Denver, Troy Renck notes due to “all the dropouts and injuries, 84 players can claim all-star status this year.” That equates to "one in every nine” MLBers. Renck: “It completely devalues the honor and, worse, the best players still aren’t involved” (DENVER POST, 7/12). In Philadelphia, Paul Hagen writes the "only thing missing from this year’s All-Star Game will be, you know, stars.” Hagen: “That seems to argue against the idea that this is a meaningful game because homefield advantage in the World Series is at stake” (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 7/12). In Minneapolis, La Velle Neal III writes under the header, “Missing All-Stars Would Make Great Team” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/12). In Toronto, Bob Elliott writes under the header, “Yankees Skip Stars Show.” While Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez had knee surgery yesterday, his teammates who were voted to the team "should be here” (TORONTO SUN, 7/12). ESPN's Mike Greenberg said, "I will make one exception: If you have an inner-ear imbalance you have to bring a doctor’s note saying you have an inner-ear imbalance and thus cannot fly. If you have a twisted knee, you can still show up at the All-Star game and you can be a part of everything” ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 7/12).
THE NEXT PRO BOWL? ESPN's Michael Wilbon asked, “When did the All-Star Game get like the Pro Bowl where guys just say, ‘I’m injured, I don’t want to go?’ The Major League Baseball All-Star Game was something people wanted to participate in” ("PTI," ESPN, 7/11). L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said the MLB All-Star Game “has become the new Pro Bowl." Plaschke: “The players don’t want the hassles of having to win home-field advantage on their shoulders.” Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, "This used to be the grandest game of all. The Midsummer Classis is now just a dud” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/11). ESPN's Barry Larkin said, “If you’re an All-Star, you should be here to represent. ... It's a shame that we’re sitting here at the Midsummer Classic and we’re talking about guys jockeying either to not play or to try to play in this game" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 7/11). In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw writes the MLB All-Star Game has “sunk nearly to the level of all the rest.” Cowlishaw: “Too many star players would rather take the time off than embrace a game that was created for and is still driven by the votes of the fans” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/12).
WHY DOES IT STILL COUNT? In N.Y., John Harper writes Selig “insists on continuing this farce of deciding home field advantage in the World Series with this game, but how can it possibly count when so many players bail out at the first opportunity?” Harper: “How can it count when the likes of Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez are ineligible to pitch in Tuesday night’s game because they started for their respective clubs on Sunday?” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/12). In L.A., Kevin Baxter writes, “And they call this an All-Star game? How about a Some-Stars game? Better yet, call it what it is: an exhibition. … Here’s the clincher: If the game is so important, why is it so hard to get the biggest stars to play?” (L.A. TIMES, 7/12). In Akron, Jason Lloyd writes “despite his best efforts, Commissioner Bud Selig is still failing at making this game matter” (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 7/12). ESPN's Peter Pascarelli said, “Everything they’ve done to the All-Star Game in the last 10 years has cheapened the actual competition of the game and at the same time, they’ve made the game have a meaningful angle to it which is absurd” (“The Scott Van Pelt Show,” ESPN Radio, 7/11).
STUPID HUMAN TRICKS: CBS' David Letterman last night introduced a “promo” for the All-Star Game during his monologue, saying, “The All-Star Game is not what it used to be. A lot of big-name players will not be going to Arizona for the All-Star Game, but it's still going to be exciting.” A video then aired, showing pictures of All-Stars that would not be at the game, with an announcer saying, “Get ready for the 2011 MLB All-Star Game. We don't have A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera or David Price. CC Sabathia, James Shields and Justin Verlander aren’t playing. Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels and Matt Cain won't be there. Who will be on the field?” The video then scrolled through mock baseball cards of the following, with the announcer saying, “The Phillie Phanatic, the guy who caught Jeter's 3,000 hit (baseball card featuring Christian Lopez), the 80-year-old manager of the Florida Marlins (baseball card of Jack McKeon), Charlie Sheen (baseball card of Sheen as “Major League” character Ricky Vaughn) and this lucky Kansas City Royals groundskeeper (video of a Royals groundskeeper trying to cover the field and falling underneath the tarp)." The promo ended with the All-Star Game logo, and the announcer saying, “The 2011 All-Star Game. It's going to be sick” (“Late Show,” CBS, 7/11).