Columnist: R.A. Dickey deserves All-Star nod over Strasburg

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Baseball is my life, but working on 4th of July weekend can be a bit of a drag. It’s true. I’d much rather be eating a hot dog while jumping through the sprinkler in the front yard or something. Thankfully, columnists like Rob Parker of ESPNNewYork.com are always around to cheer me up.

Seriously, this is the funniest thing I’ve read all week. Enjoy.

We hate to interrupt this automatic trip to Cooperstown less than a
month into Strasburg’s career, but, hello, he’s just a .500 pitcher for a
bad team. Strasburg is 2-2 with a 2.27 ERA. If it were anybody else —
especially a young pitcher without a proven track record — there
wouldn’t even be a debate about an All-Star selection.

Even as impressive as 14 strikeouts in his debut are, it wasn’t even a
record. J.R. Richard punched out 15 in his debut in 1971.

More than Strasburg’s numbers alone, there’s simply a more deserving
pitcher in the NL. Enter New York Mets starter R.A. Dickey.

Yeah, I get what he’s doing here. He’s setting up Saturday’s pitching matchup between Dickey and Strasburg. Weird choice for a column, but we’ll forgive that. It’s nice to see anybody in New York not talking about LeBron James. Anyway, he continues.

But the All-Star Game — last we checked — isn’t about what you’ve done
for your entire career. It’s about what you have accomplished during
the first half of the season.

There are two significant pieces of ignorance here. One, that Strasburg’s win-loss record means anything whatsoever, especially when the Nationals have scratched across one measly run over his last three starts combined. And two, that the All-Star Game is actually about what a player has accomplished during the first half of the season. It’s a complete fallacy that continues to live on for reasons I can’t understand.

Two weeks ago, I made a brief case for Strasburg to pitch in the game and it really had nothing to do with superficial statistics like his win-loss record. Yes, he may walk away from this afternoon’s start 2-3, but if he strikes out 10 over seven innings of one-run ball, I’m still okay with him representing the Nationals in the All-Star Game. Why? Because he’s good and he could help the National League win home-field advantage for the World Series. That’s why.

In case you didn’t already know, I’m a Mets fan. I love what R.A. Dickey has been doing. He has been a lot of fun to watch. But we’re talking about eight starts from a pitcher who has a career 5.17 ERA. I’m not saying he’s Aaron Small or anything, but if the All-Star Game is truly about winning, the best players in baseball should be there. Dickey just isn’t one of them.
 

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.