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Leaving Bryce Harper out of Home Run Derby is latest example of MLB screwing up All-Star Game

Matt Kemp is the captain of the National League Home Run Derby team at next month’s All-Star Game, and he says he’s picked out his squad. Despite his prodigious power, Nationals rookie Bryce Harper didn’t make Kemp’s cut.

“It’s not because he’s a rookie. It’s just that there are other guys out there that are capable,” Kemp told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m not saying he wouldn’t do a good job in the Home Run Derby. He’s going to have plenty of time to participate in many Home Run Derbies. Just not this year. Nothing against him. I love watching him play.”

Kemp says he based his decision on stats, and Harper is only tied for 50th in the National League with 7 home runs. Based on his reasoning, it’s understandable why Harper was left off. And given that Kemp is captain, he can choose whomever he wants based on whatever criteria he wants. He’s doing nothing wrong.

The problem is that MLB has screwed things up once again.

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2009 MLB All-Star Game Snubs

It’s a yearly tradition unlike any other — the obligatory fans suck at voting and so do the players and managers so here I am to help everyone out — MLB All-Star Game snubs post. I mean, if we can’t figure out All-Star voting to argue over in early July, over what can we argue?? OK, here’s how I would have done the squads differently … (full rosters of each league)

AMERICAN LEAGUE

    1B: Justin Morneau should be starting over Mark Teixeira

    2B: Dustin Pedroia out as starting 2B, Aaron Hill of Toronto in. Ian Kinsler should be the reserve, Pedroia shouldn’t be on the team

    SS: Jason Bartlett should be the starter, Derek Jeter should be coming off the bench

    OF: Josh Hamilton’s 78 home runs at the Derby last year shouldn’t get him back in the game when Marlon Byrd has more homers than him this year. Torii Hunter should be the starting CF and Jermaine Dye should be added as a reserve

    3B: Brandon Inge should be the backup third baseman and Michael Young shouldn’t be on the team

    Pitchers: Kevin Millwood and Jered Weaver should be on the pitching staff, Brian Fuentes* and Tim Wakefield should be off the staff

    NATIONAL LEAGUE

    Ryan Howard shouldn’t be on the team, Pablo Sandoval should

    Pitchers: Yovani Gallardo over Josh Johnson, and Chris Carpenter over Jason Marquis

    Final Votes should go to Mark Reynolds and Adam Lind.

    I would also have either Dan Haren or Tim Lincecum (depending on who has the better last start) start the game against Zack Greinke.

In total consideration, the fans and players/managers did a pretty good job picking the squad. With the NL, there were hardly any complaints and even those are petty ones.

*the pitcher formerly known as Lou Diamond Phillips

How to Improve the MLB All-Star Game

Between the game Selig called in a tie a few years ago and Tuesday’s 15-inning debacle, MLB clearly hasn’t ironed everything out with the All-Star Game. Here are three simple solutions to fix the All-Star Game and still make it as fan friendly as possible while keeping it within the best interests of the players and teams.

1. Stop making it for home field advantage — I understand why they did this to try and pique interest and TV ratings, but honestly, the outcome of the All-Star game outcome shouldn’t determine something as important as home field advantage in the World Series. Best overall record should. I still think guys will perform as well as possible just because of each player’s competitive nature. Who doesn’t want to do well against the best players? A chance to shine amongst all the stars? That’s enough motivation to play hard.

2. Allow one re-entry per player — How annoying was it to see the starters go five innings for the most part, get pulled, and then get stuck with Dan Uggla at second base for 10 innings while Chase Utley was rotting away on the bench? Or how nice would it have been if Clint Hurdle could pinch hit with Albert Pujols for Miguel Tejada, or Francona to send Frankie Rodriguez back out to pitch the 10th. It’s an All-Star Game — don’t hamstring managers with a difficult predicament (getting everyone into the game while saving players in case it goes extras). Plus, this is way more fan friendly.

3. Move the All-Star Game to Wednesday and resume play on Friday — That would give all pitchers who threw on Sunday a few more days to rest so that the turnaround isn’t as harsh. Plus, it would give all players an extra day to enjoy their time off, be it at the All-Star game or at home with their family. And what’s the point of having games on Thursday anyway? Only a handful of teams play.

That’s all I got. If you can think of additional ways to improve the All-Star Game or if you disagree, feel free to add your comments. Otherwise, I think this would be a nice start to fine-tuning what’s already an enjoyable event.

My NL All-Star Team

I already presented my AL All-Star team. So, without further ado, here’s how the NL All-Star team should look, based purely on performance:

National League Starters
C – Russell Martin, Los Angeles
1B – Prince Fielder, Milwaukee
2B – Chase Utley, Philadelphia
3B – Miguel Cabrera, Florida
SS – Hanley Ramirez, Florida
LF – Barry Bonds, San Francisco
CF – Ken Griffey Jr., Cincinnati
RF – Matt Holliday, Colorado

NL Pitchers
SP *Jake Peavy, San Diego (starter)
SP Brad Penny, Los Angeles
SP Chris Young, San Diego
SP Ben Sheets, Milwaukee
SP John Maine, New York
SP John Smoltz, Atlanta
SP Tom Gorzelanny, Pittsburgh
RP Takashi Saito, Los Angeles
RP Francisco Cordero, Milwaukee
RP Jose Valverde, Arizona
RP Trevor Hoffman, San Diego
RP Billy Wagner, New York

NL Reserves
C Bengie Molina, San Francisco
1B Albert Pujols, St. Louis
1B Dmitri Young, Washington
2B Orlando Hudson, Arizona
3B David Wright, New York
SS Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia
SS Jose Reyes, New York
SS Edgar Renteria, Atlanta
SS J.J. Hardy, Milwaukee
OF Eric Byrnes, Arizona
OF Carlos Lee, Houston
OF Alfonso Soriano, Chicago

My Changes
Miguel Cabrera and Hanley Ramirez are starters, as is Matt Holliday
Chris Young, John Maine, Tom Gorzelanny, Eric Byrnes, Jimmy Rollins, Bengie Molina and Edgar Renteria are all on the squad
Carlos Beltran, Cole Hamels, Brian Fuentes, Brian McCann, Aaron Rowand, Freddy Sanchez, and Derrek Lee are out

Biggest Problems
Completely overhauling LaRussa’s jacked up team. Finding a way to get all five shortstops into the game because they all deserve it.

My Snubs
Ryan Howard, Derrek Lee, Brandon Phillips, Aaron Rowand, Carlos Beltran, and Adam Dunn
Cole Hamels, Derek Lowe, Jason Isringhausen, and Brandon Webb

My AL All-Star Team

As I’ve said before, one of the few bright sides from the All-Star game is that it gives us something to debate. Every year, inevitably there are several players left off the roster. So, without further ado, here’s how the AL All-Star team should look, based purely on performance:

American League Starters
C – Victor Martinez, Cleveland
1B – David Ortiz, Boston
2B – Brian Roberts, Baltimore
3B – Alex Rodriguez, New York
SS – Carlos Guillen, Detroit
LF – Magglio Ordonez, Detroit
CF – Ichiro, Seattle
RF – Vladimir Guerrero, LA of Anaheim

AL Pitchers
SP *Dan Haren, Oakland (starter)
SP Johan Santana, Minnesota
SP C.C. Sabathia, Cleveland
SP Josh Beckett, Boston
SP John Lackey, LA of Anaheim
SP Justin Verlander, Detroit
SP Gil Meche, Kansas City
RP J.J. Putz, Seattle
RP Francisco Rodriguez, LA of Anaheim
RP Jonathan Papelbon, Boston
RP Eric Gagne, Texas
RP Bobby Jenks, Chicago

AL Reserves
C Jorge Posada, New York
1B Justin Morneau, Minnesota
1B Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay
2B Placido Polanco, Detroit
3B Kevin Youkilis, Boston
SS Derek Jeter, New York
SS Orlando Cabrera, LA of Anaheim
OF Torii Hunter, Minnesota
OF Gary Sheffield, Detroit
OF Alex Rios, Toronto
OF Curtis Granderson, Detroit
OF Grady Sizemore, Cleveland

My Changes
Brian Roberts, Carlos Guillen and Victor Martinez are starters
Orlando Cabrera, Eric Gagne, Gary Sheffield, Kevin Youkilis, Carlos Pena, and Curtis Granderson on the squad
Pudge Rodriguez, Mike Lowell, and Manny Ramirez, Carl Crawford and Michael Young are out

Biggest Problems
Texas doesn’t have an All-Star — it should be Teixeira but he got hurt. Same thing with Tampa Bay — it should be Upton but he got hurt. KC doesn’t have an All-Star either. Meche is taking up a spot that should go to Kelvim Escobar.

My Snubs
Pudge Rodriguez, Kenji Johjima, Joe Mauer, Jhonny Peralta
Kelvim Escobar, Jeremy Bonderman, Erik Bedard, James Shields