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.
 

Bruce Maxwell first MLB player to kneel during National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.