The Detroit Tigers have four announced all-stars this year and could wind up with one more if Victor Martinez wins the final vote on Thursday. Considering that this team is a mere four games over .500, that number seems higher than it should.
That’s not to say that any of the four or five players are undeserving, but I can certainly see why a potential sixth all-star, Jhonny Peralta, was left off the team.
Peralta has been listed as a snub for this year’s game and if you look strictly at the numbers, probably rightly so. New York’s Derek Jeter won the fan vote and Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera has had a fine season on a first-place club. Peralta has never been an all-star and while his numbers this season represent a career year, the circumstances conspired against his making the club. And I’m really okay with that.
We can debate whether or not the fans should have a say in the voting process I suppose. Personally, in the case of Jeter, I don’t have a problem with electing a player to start based as a lifetime achievement award of sorts. Voters did this for years with Cal Ripken when his numbers didn’t support an all-star selection. Heck the fans voted Mike Schmidt to start the all-star game two months after he retired in 1989. I get it and I’m okay with it.
Regardless of whether or not the game means something in regard to home field advantage, I do think that each team should be represented and that the fans should probably still pick the starters. Apart from Jeter, the biggest case for taking away the fan vote this year on the AL squad was Josh Hamilton over Jacoby Ellsbury. Hamilton missed a month, but his numbers are still very good and his star power is very real.
By and large, the fans got it right this year.
I recall many, many years of watching the all-star game and hoping to see the one token Tiger make an appearance. I’ve seen and heard many national writers talking about the same things. But there also seems to be a school of thought that guys like Aaron Crow and Matt Wieters shouldn’t be there; that just because we as writers are no longer the kids we once were, that the next generation of Royals and Orioles fans shouldn’t have the same excitement of seeing their guy play with the game’s greats.
The argument is silly to me, I guess. There are people that get all worked up saying that if the game will determine home field advantage, the rosters should reflect only the best of the best. Home field used to be determined by a rotation of every other year. To me, using the all-star game ensures that no tie games take place, that there is a sense of urgency to the game itself, and that the managers will treat it as a game they’d like to win.
That doesn’t mean it should be treated as a playoff game, however.
While the mid-summer classic should have some sense of importance, it should also maintain a sense of being a showcase for the league. Like it or not, the Royals and Orioles, the Astros and Padres, they are all members of the league and they have fans that should be represented as well. The game is still about the fans, but in years before mandating that “this one counts”, the game had become too much of an exhibition and that was doing the fans a disservice. The change in format, along with adding a DH full-time to the game, was done to help bring it back to the fans a bit and also ensure that the players and coaches involved would take the game more seriously, if only just a bit.
If it means that guys like Jhonny Peralta or Paul Konerko are left off the team so that a young Royals fan can see Aaron Crow introduced on the first base line in Arizona, then that’s just the price that should be paid.
To me, it’s a price worth paying.