Tuesday, July 08, 2014

All Star Time

The nice thing about the MLB All Star Game is that despite all the silliness that has been heaped upon it over the years - wacky selection processes and vague intimations of making it "matter" and a home run derby with rules so borked I could design better ones in my sleep [note: I am a professional game designer. This is not an idle boast. MLB, talk to me] - people still care about it.

The terrible thing about the MBL All Star Game is, of course, that people care so very much about it even when deep down in their bones, they know they shouldn't. Which is why every year, when the rosters are announced, we get the following like clockwork:



  1. The furious twitter debate over whether the last spots on the roster should be for established stars who might be having down years or new guys who've only performed over 70 or so games. This is also known as The Brian LaHair Argument, after the hapless Cubs 1B who turned a few hot weeks into an All-Star appearance and was never heard from again.
  2. The furious twitter debate over how stupid the rule that every team must have at least one representative, as cramming players from truly dire rosters (like, say, the 2014 Phillies) onto the team takes away flexibility in selecting deserving players. However, seeing as the rosters have grown to roughly the size of an Athenian phalanx in the last few years, this argument holds less water than it used to.
  3. The furious twitter debate over whether specialists belong on the team. Currently, this is focused on middle relievers like Tony Watson, who's having a lights-out year for the Pirates. The argument against is that guys like Watson are fungible and their performance isn't generally repeatable, which means they're not really stars and the fans don't want to see them. The argument for is that if the game does in fact matter, having an actual relief pitcher who's used to working the 7th inning might not be a bad idea, that relief pitchers who are having great years deserve some recognition, and that not so long ago, nobody picked non-closers for the game and everyone got their kilt in a wad over the fact that these poor schnooks were locked out of the game because of their managers' usage patterns. In other words, you can't win.
  4. The furious twitter debate over who, precisely, got screwed out of a spot on the roster. This debate is largely immaterial because no matter where you draw the cutoff line, there's going to be someone who happens to get bisected by it, and because between now and the 15th a half dozen guys on each team are going to come down with kuru, rabbititis or Denebian Slime Devil Flu and beg out of the game. This, of course, means that all the guys who got "screwed" will then be called and asked to show up in Minnesota for the game.
  5. The furious twitter debate over how the teams are selected, which, to be blunt, is only slightly less convoluted than character generation in Ars Magica 3rd Edition. Near as I can tell, the fans vote and then the players vote and then the managers select but they have to make sure that there's one guy from every team and, wait, the fans get to vote again and....oh, the hell with it. What it means is that a guy who's pitching for Oakland is on the NL All Star team, and you can put that in your pipe and smoke it.


And the fact that we have these same debates at ever-increasing volumes every year indicates that nothing changes - or at least nothing important changes - from year to year. So let the arguments ring out about how Josh Harrison doesn't belong - Sid Monge didn't belong in 1979, either - and how Josh Sale does. Let the hyperbole fly about how anyone who wants to see Alfredo Simon in the game is a bad human being while leaving Billy Hamilton and his 70 games of experience off the roster is a crime against God and man. 
In some families, yelling is how you show love.
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