|More funny business in All-Star Game|
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on July 17, 2009
After the 7-7 All-Star Game tie in 2001, Major League Baseball implemented a rule that gives home field advantage to the winner of the All-Star Game. Bud Selig insists this wasn't a response to the tie, but rather a way to draw more interest to the game.
So with home field advantage at stake, managers at the All-Star Game must make certain that both the players don't get hurt and their team wins. After all, teams with home field advantage in a seven-game series have the upper hand, if that weren't obvious enough.
But consider the many restrictions placed upon those managers. First, fans vote for the starters at the All-Star Game. It's great that the fans have the vote, and they usually pick the best player at every position. However, there are times they pick a guy like Josh Hamilton who has missed 35 games already this season due to injuries. Hard to justify that pick.
Second, opposing players and coaches get the opportunity to fill out the team. The players usually do a good job picking the right players, but the opportunity to make a mistake lingers.
Then the All-Star Game manager must choose players to make sure every team has a representative. Yes, even a National and a Pirate must go to the All-Star Game. Talk about limiting your chances of winning.
Buster Olney made a great point in his blog, as he does often on many topics, about teams not having lefty specialists. Sure, Fuentes could've filled that role in the eighth when Ryan Howard was hitting with Joe Nathan in trouble. However, it would've made much more sense to have a left-handed specialist, just like a regular team would have in its bullpen, to face him late in the game.
The National League had, I assume, Randy Wolf at its disposal for that task. He's killer on lefties, but he's not a one-out guy. Wolf can't get warm that quickly, and it wouldn't be wise to ask him to do so.
But here's the topper, as reported by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
On Monday, Brian Fuentes said he was told he would pitch the sixth inning of the All-Star game. On Tuesday, he was told he would not, which Fuentes blamed on the commissioner's office.
"That bumped me from my inning," Fuentes said. "It's kind of crazy they would have their hand in making up the lineup."
Fuentes, the Angels' closer, did not pitch in the game. He said he was told in an American League team meeting Monday that he would pitch the sixth inning, and he shared that news with family, friends and Angels officials in St. Louis.
On Tuesday, two hours before game time, Fuentes said AL pitching coach Jim Hickey told him that there had been a "misunderstanding" and that AL Manager Joe Maddon had not been aware that the commissioner's office wanted the starting pitchers to work two innings.
So the commissioner's office has a hand in deciding how long the starting pitchers can go? Isn't that something best left to the manager to decide if he's trying his best to win the game?
If I were Joe Maddon, I would've lifted Roy Halladay in favor of a pinch hitter in the top of the second. No use making a pitcher hit when you've got superstars galore sitting on your bench, especially a superstar American League pitcher who could get hurt swinging a bat or running the bases.
If I were Charlie Manuel, I wouldn't have sent Tim Lincecum out there for the bottom of the second after his rough first inning. His control was a little off, and the National League bullpen did a much better job than Lincecum did in the first.
But the commissioner's office mandated each starter had to go two innings. And so both Halladay and Lincecum went two innings apiece.
Now I may be way in the wrong here or being overly cynical, but this ruling seems to be a heavy-handed design to insure one team doesn't run out of pitchers, as happened in 2001 and resulted in Selig being booed mercilessly.
(Would it also be overly cynical of me to say Selig instituted the "win-at-all-costs" rule as a response to the 2001 tie, even if he insists otherwise?)
Let the managers manage. After all, it's their job, not the commissioner's, to use the players as they see fit.