Let’s not get too worked up about All-Star snubs

42 Comments

If I had carte blanche to make an All-Star team I probably wouldn’t have done it like John Farrell, Mike Matheney, voting players and voting fans did. I think everyone would make different choices if they had their say, and of course any committee of decision makers is subject to the weird things that committees do.

I’d like to think I’d find room for Garrett Richards or Huston Street. That Kyle Seager or Ian Kinsler could make the team. That maybe Josh Harrison wouldn’t be on it and, instead, I’d find room for Anthony Rendon. That is, if I wanted to maintain that utility player role¬†Harrison is apparently filling. If I just wanted to go for star power and narrative, I’d go for the finally-rebounding Justin Morneau and let him return to Minnesota with his head up. I’d probably replace 85% of the relief pitchers picked with starters, all of whom could easily go an inning next week. Most starters are more famous. They’re bigger stars, and that’s what the All-Star Game is about. It’s also why I will giggle at anyone who says Derek Jeter doesn’t belong. He’s the biggest star of them all.

But while I’ll gladly argue with anyone on a surface level about this choice or that choice (arguing is fun for me if you haven’t noticed), it’s really, really hard for me to get genuinely worked up about “snubs.”

Partially because, between now and next Tuesday, a lot of players on the All-Star team will beg out with injuries, real or imaginary. Many pitchers will be ruled ineligible by their teams due to work loads and the like. Just about everyone who is “snubbed” as of this morning will be in Minneapolis next week. That is, if they want to be. Many of these guys are probably secretly happy that they were snubbed so that they can get three or four days off in the middle of a long season to go fishing or to the beach or to spend time with their kids, wives or girlfriends. Regardless of how it all shakes out, no one is likely to give quotes to the press in which they honestly and passionately express their feelings of being slighted.

I’m a blogger and bloggers have the reputation of shooting first and aiming later, substituting immediacy for consideration and reaction for reflection. We can argue about how fair of a stereotype that is for a given web-based writer, but I totally see where that’s coming from.

But in the “biggest All-Star snubs!” game, I’m inclined to wait it out for a few days. If we do so, most of all of this will be taken care of.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.