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What’s Wrong with the All-Star Game?

Even at a time of year when there’s no basketball, no hockey, and no football to watch, people aren’t tuning in to the MLB All-Star festivities. Despite Marlon Byrd’s efforts, Tuesday night’s 2010 MLB All-Star Game registered the lowest overnight ratings of any Midsummer Classic in history. The previous evening, the Home Run Derby’s ratings hit a five-year low and were down 22 percent from 2009.

What’s going on here? The answer with the Home Run Derby is a simple one; no one wants to participate. It was fitting that a high-profile slugger like David Ortiz took home the crown this year, but look at the rest of the field. I don’t care how many home runs they’ve hit at the All-Star break, fans don’t want to see players like Corey Hart, Chris Young, and Vernon Wells hitting the long ball. They want to see Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, and the rest of the game’s elite home run hitters belting moon shots.

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Marlon Byrd Helps NL Get Over Hump

The National League defeated the American League Tuesday night to win the 2010 MLB All-Star Game in Anaheim. Amazingly, it was the first time the NL won in over 13 years.  Aside from Brian McCann’s bases clearing double in the seventh that put the NL on top for good, the play of the night came on defense. With one out and a lead-footed David Ortiz running at first, Marlon Byrd chose to let a bloop hit fall in front of him rather than risk diving and allowing the ball to get by. He then quickly fielded it and made an accurate, spinning throw to force Big Papi out at second. Check out the video of Marlon Byrd throwing out David Ortiz in the 9th inning of the All-Star Game, courtesy of YouTube user crZY383:

Just a phenomenal, heads-up play by Byrd. What’s really impressive about it is that he didn’t get lucky. He knew Ortiz was running and he knew he’d have a chance to make the play if he let the ball drop. On a night where we were subjected to ridiculous songs about Vladimir Guerrero, it was great to see a few Web Gems from the guys we expect to make them.

Video Credit: YouTube user crZY383

Fox Makes Stupid Vlad Guerrero Song

It was nice to see Vladimir Guerrero get a standing ovation from his former hometown fans at the 2010 MLB All-Star Game. It was not nice to see Fox come up with one of the most tacky video clips I’ve ever seen in my life as a tribute to Vlad’s hitting abilities. Check out the video of the Vladimir Guerrero head, shoulders, knees, and toes song at the 2010 MLB All-Star game, courtesy of YouTube user JROD72724:

Wow. Talk about a swing and a miss. No, I’m not talking about Vlad striking out, either. We get it. The guy can hit pitches that aren’t strikes. That’s just bad.

Video Credit: YouTube user JROD72724

Bobby Valentine Called It…Jose Ortiz Wins Home Run Derby

I’m glad Bobby Valentine reiterated the fact that we weren’t taking a shot at the Home Run Derby when we gave you a recommendation for making it interesting on Monday.  Maybe Bobby should have taken my advice and bet on it. He’d probably have a better grasp of the contestants names if he had. The Home Run Derby is just tough to get amped up for, and that becomes evident when one of the three commentators for the event picks a former Rockies second baseman — who had 14 home runs in his three year career — to win the event. Or could he have meant the former center fielder and pinch runner for the White Sox 30 years ago — who hit zero homers in his three year career — was going to take home the crown? Check out the video of Bobby Valentine picking Jose Ortiz to win the Home Run Derby:

Of course, Valentine meant to pick David Ortiz.  I’d even give him a little credit for an accurate prediction if he didn’t forget the name of one of the most well-known figures in the history of Major League Baseball.  When all else fails, just call him Big Papi.   I’m sure Bobby will remember that in 2011.

Video Credit: YouTube user stella5378

Does Girardi Have it Out for the Red Sox?

Yankee fans should be proud of their skipper. While it could certainly be a coincidence, it’s starting to look like Joe Girardi is doing everything in his power to keep Red Sox players out of the 2010 MLB All-Star Game. Does the rivalry have anything to do with it? We’ll never know, but let’s speculate a little for fun.

During a Monday afternoon press conference, the American League All-Star manager announced that Rangers third baseman Michael Young would replace Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre on the AL roster. The only problem with that is Beltre — who tweaked his hamstring in a game against Toronto on Sunday — never said he wasn’t going to play. Players are allowed to wait until very close to the actual game to make a decision, which is probably what Beltre plans on doing. Even MLB spokesperson Phyllis Merhige couldn’t provide a clear answer as to how Girardi thought Beltre backed out:

Clearly it was a communication misunderstanding. Michael Young is the next guy on the player voting, so if Adrian Beltre can’t play it’s Michael Young. But Adrian had said all along he was going to make a decision about how he felt. I don’t know where Joe got it from. Maybe I miscommunicated it.”

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Omar Infante Surprised by Omar Infante’s Selection to the All-Star Game

The MLB All-Star teams were announced on Sunday and the selections resulted in snubs like always. While leaving Joey Votto off the NL team was by far the most egregious error, adding Omar Infante to the team easily qualifies as one of the worst All-Star decisions I’ve ever seen. See, every year a player or two makes the All-Star game when they don’t deserve to be there — it’s usually the result of the rule that all teams must have a representative in the game. Charlie Manuel’s decision to add Omar Infante had nothing to do with this usual issue; it was a sole act of idiocy on the part of Manuel. In what has to be a first ever, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel added a utility infielder to the All-Star team. The selection was so ridiculous and asinine that even Omar Infante himself was stunned by the news:

“I got a call from [General Manager] Frank Wren, and the first thought I had was that I got traded,” Infante said through an interpreter. “I was kind of nervous and choked up. By the time Frank told me I was going to the All-Star game, I thought he was joking around. It took, like, five minutes for me to realize I’m going to the All-Star game.”

That’s because he has no business going there! I’m not out to knock Infante nor his value and contributions to the Braves; Infante’s having a good year and he’s an important piece for Atlanta, having played five positions this year. But utility men have no place at an All-Star game. Infante has no business being on the roster while Joey Votto and his NL best OPS has to pray he wins a fan vote. If Charlie Manuel really wanted to add another middle infielder to the team then he should have gone with Rafael Furcal, Dan Uggla, or Rickie Weeks. Any of those guys belonged on the All-Star team. But Omar Infante? Maybe give him a team award at the end of the season like “Most Inspirational Player” or something. Just don’t put him on the All-Star team especially when so many other players are far more deserving.

Sources:
Five Braves named All-Stars, including Infante [Atlanta Journal Constitution]
Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Stephen Strasburg Shouldn’t Make All-Star Team Yet

If you haven’t heard of Washington Nationals pitching phenomenon Stephen Strasburg by now, you must be living under a rock. The 21-year-old right hander has been amazing in his first five games, posting a 2.27 ERA with 48 strikeouts. Regardless, I don’t think he should be placed on the All-Star team just yet.

Strasburg no doubt has All-Star quality stuff, but by the break he will only have pitched around seven games. Is it really fair to send someone to the All-Star Game who wasn’t even a major leaguer the first two months of the season? I don’t think it is. Granted it wasn’t up to Strasburg that he started out in the minors, but he will only have been in the majors for just over a month when the break comes and it doesn’t sit right with me to send him to Anaheim.

Like I said, Strasburg is only 21; it’s not like this will be his one and only shot at reaching the game if he doesn’t go this year. He’s got youth and talent on his side and I just know that he will be sporting an All-Star jersey for years to come, but it just shouldn’t be this year. I’m not saying he doesn’t have the talent to be there — because he does — I just feel like he should have a few more games on his resume before he joins the ranks of the other All-Star players.

As long as he stays healthy and doesn’t go into a sophomore slump next year, I can see Strasburg starting the 2011 All-Star Game. But for this year, let’s leave it to the guys who have been around the bases a little longer.