We did this yesterday for the American League, so now it’s the senior circuit’s turn. Your NL All-Star ballot leaders to date:
C: Yadier Molina
1B: Albert Pujols
2B: Chase Utley
3B: Placido Polanco
SS: Jimmy Rollins
OF: Ryan Braun, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino
Yeah, Phillies fans are stuffing the ballot box. Whatever. This is what happens when you leave democracy to the people. Nothing will change in this regard until everyone comes to their senses and installs me as Benevolent Dictator.
Of course not all of these choices are bad. Pujols is Pujols (though more on him below), Chase Utley is by far the best second baseman in the league, and Jayson Werth is more than worthy to start for the NL All-Stars. But if we were going purely on early-season performance — which, as I noted yesterday is my personal preference even though I realize that reasonable people may disagree — we’d have a different setup:
- For the first time in forever you have an argument that someone besides Pujols deserves first base. His name is Joey Votto and he currently has an OPS a mere .013 behind El Hombre. No, I don’t think that will last all year or that he’s close to being as good as Pujols is, but Votto at deserves to at least have his name mentioned. Lucky that the fans don’t get to pick backups. Instead of Votto we’d get Rico Brogna or Ricky Jordan or someone.
- Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco are beyond lame picks and even the Phillies fans who wrote their names down know it. One has hardly played and the other is currently 10th at OPS in the NL at his position. How about Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Zimmerman instead? If attitude bugs you, swap out Tulowitzki or Stephen Drew instead.
- There aren’t a ton of great choices at catcher in the National League. Brian McCann is having a hot and cold year, currently at cold, and the NL’s best hitting catcher — Ryan Doumit — is a defensive disaster. When in doubt go Molina? Sure, why not. Yadier is great on defense even if he’s not hitting a lick so maybe that should be recognized.
- My first impulse was to give the fans the benefit of the doubt on leaving Andre Ethier out of the top three due to his injury, but given the Polanco and Rollins picks it’s possible that they’re not even watching baseball this year, let alone discounting for lost playing time. Alfonso Soriano has apparently gone from no one realizing how bad he had gotten to no one realizing how good a season he’s having. And c’mon: don’t we have room for Jason Heyward? He’s a modern day Chris Sabo! Or am I the only one who remembers the 1988 All-Star game?
Oh well. Like I said yesterday: it’s an exhibition and not a competition. At least not anymore, so let us not get too bent out of shape about it, mmm-kay?
You’ll recall the little controversy last month when Ichiro Suzuki passed Pete Rose’s hit total. Specifically, when Ichiro’s Japanese and American hit total reached Rose’s American total of 4,256 and a lot of people talked about Ichiro being the new “Hit King.” You’ll also recall that Rose himself got snippy about it, wondering if people would now think of him as “the Hit Queen,” which he took to be disrespect.
There’s a profile of Ichiro over at ESPN the Magazine and reporter Marly Rivera asked Ichiro about that. Ichiro’s comments were interesting and quite insightful about how ego and public perception work in the United States:
I was actually happy to see the Hit King get defensive. I kind of felt I was accepted. I heard that about five years ago Pete Rose did an interview, and he said that he wished that I could break that record. Obviously, this time around it was a different vibe. In the 16 years that I have been here, what I’ve noticed is that in America, when people feel like a person is below them, not just in numbers but in general, they will kind of talk you up. But then when you get up to the same level or maybe even higher, they get in attack mode; they are maybe not as supportive. I kind of felt that this time.
There’s a hell of a lot of truth to that. Whatever professional environment you’re in, you’ll see this play out. If you want to know how you’re doing, look at who your enemies and critics are. If they’re senior to you or better-established in your field, you’re probably doing something right. And they’re probably pretty insecure and maybe even a little afraid of you.
The rest of the article is well worth your time. Ichiro seems like a fascinating, insightful and intelligent dude.
In 2012 Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, delivered the fantasy role-playing game it had spent millions of dollars and countless man hours trying to deliver. And then the company folded, leaving both its employees and Rhode Island taxpayers, who underwrote much of the company’s operations via $75 million in loans, holding the bag.
The fallout to 38 Studios’ demise was more than what you see in your average business debacle. Rhode Island accused Schilling and his company of acts tantamount to fraud, claiming that it accepted tax dollars while withholding information about the true state of the company’s finances. Former employees, meanwhile, claimed — quite credibly, according to reports of the matter — that they too were lured to Rhode Island believing that their jobs were far more secure than they were. Many found themselves in extreme states of crisis when Schilling abruptly closed the company’s doors. For his part, Schilling has assailed Rhode Island politicians for using him as a scapegoat and a political punching bag in order to distract the public from their own misdeeds. There seems to be truth to everyone’s claims to some degree.
As a result of all of this, there have been several investigations and lawsuits into 38 Studios’ collapse. In 2012 the feds investigated the company and declined to bring charges. There is currently a civil lawsuit afoot and, alongside it, the State of Rhode Island has investigated for four years to see if anyone could be charged with a crime. Today there was an unexpected press conference in which it was revealed that, no, no one associated with 38 Studios will be charged with anything:
An eight-page explanation of the decision concluded by saying that “the quantity and qualify of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration.”
Schilling will likely crow about this on his various social media platforms, claiming it totally vindicates him. But, as he is a close watcher of any and all events related to Hillary Clinton, he no doubt knows that a long investigation resulting in a declination to file charges due to lack of evidence is not the same thing as a vindication. Bad judgment and poor management are still bad things, even if they’re not criminal matters.
Someone let me know if Schilling’s head explodes if and when someone points that out to him.