Josh Hamilton's All-Star case is in the eye of the beholder

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The K.C. Star’s Sam Mellinger takes issue with folks (like me) who are scratching their heads at the Josh Hamilton selection:

Except here’s the thing: he does deserve it. He deserves it because
the fans say he does. They’re the boss, and sometimes it feels like too
many lose track of that . . . The undisputed highlight of last year’s
event was Hamilton’s jaw-dropping spectacle at the home run derby . . .
That’s what this whole thing is about, and Hamilton delivered, gave us
a moment that we remember a year later, and won’t forget 10 years from
now.

In that sense, Hamilton might be the most deserving All-Star of the bunch.

One of the reasons I try not to get too wrapped up in All-Star
arguments (apart from the fact that the All-Star game has become
something of a joke in concept and execution) is that when people argue
about the players selected, they are usually engaging in apples and
oranges comparisons. Person A thinks that Player 1 shouldn’t have been
picked because he’s not the best player at his position. Person B
thinks that Player 1 should have been picked because he’s the most
famous or popular or something. Or because he’s neither, but boy howdy
did he have a good year last year. Or because he’s about to retire and
kind of deserves a curtain call. There are any number of
justifications, really, and I’m sure you’ve heard them all before.

But those aren’t arguments, really. They’re examples of a
communication breakdown. Why? Because all of those things can be true
at the same time. The real discussion to have is not really over Player
1’s suitability or lack thereof, but what you think the All-Star Game
should be about in the first place, and that argument is often an
afterthought among those who get bent out of shape by the the All-Star
rosters.

If the All-Star Game is a true exhibition for the benefit of the
fans, great, put in Hamilton. Heck, put in Ken Griffey, Jr. for that
matter. People love those guys and on that basis they are certainly
deserving. If it’s about sheer entertainment, how do you not
have Manny Ramirez in there? Because no matter what you think of him as
a person, man, he’s entertaining. If, instead, it’s about first-half
performances none of those guys make it and Matt Kemp isn’t on
the outside looking in and hoping he makes out in the sympathy vote.
If, however, we truly believe the stuff about home field advantage and
“this time it counts!” don’t we have to scrap the
every-team-gets-a-representative rule? Maybe that would stink for Andrew Bailey, but I’m sure whoever represents the AL in the World Series this year would prefer it that way.

The point here isn’t that Josh Hamilton is or is not deserving, the
point is that the All-Star Game represents different things to
different people. Whether Hamilton deserves to be there depends on what
you think the game is all about in the first place. Here Mellinger
asserts that it’s about entertainment, and that’s fine, as long as he’s
consistent with that as it relates to the other selections. But not
everyone feels that way, and no amount of argument is going to convince
someone who thinks that the All-Star Game is a reward for a good
April-July that Hamilton should be there.

It’s probably a good idea to keep that distinction in mind as the arguments rage on through July 14th.

Cole Hamels done for year after just 1 start for Braves

Cole Hamels triceps injury
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ATLANTA — After making just one start for the Atlanta Braves, Cole Hamels is done for the season.

Hamels reported shortly before the start of a four-game series against the Miami Marlins that he didn’t feel like he could get anything on the ball. The left-hander was scheduled to make his second start Tuesday after struggling throughout the year to overcome shoulder and triceps issues.

The Braves placed Hamels on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Sept. 18,, but that was a mere formality. General manager Alex Anthopoulos already contacted Major League Baseball about replacing Hamels in the team’s postseason player pool.

“Cole knows himself and his body,” Anthopoulos said. “You trust the player at that point when he says he can’t go.”

The Braves began Monday with a three-game lead in the NL East .and primed for their third straight division title.

Even with that success, Atlanta has struggled throughout the shortened 60-game series to put together a consistent rotation beyond Cy Young contender Max Fried and rookie Ian Anderson.

Expected ace Mike Soroka went down with a season-ending injury, former All-Star Mike Foltynewicz was demoted after just one start, and Sean Newcomb also was sent to the alternate training site after getting hammered in his four starts.

The Braves have used 12 starters this season.

Anthopoulos had hoped to land another top starter at the trade deadline but the only deal he was able to make was acquiring journeyman Tommy Milone from the Orioles. He’s on the injured list after getting hammered in three starts for the Braves, giving up 22 hits and 16 runs in just 9 2/3 innings.

“There’s no doubt that our starting pitching has not performed to the level we wanted it to or expected it to,” Anthopoulos said. “I know that each year you never have all parts of your club firing. That’s why depth is so important.”

Hamels, who signed an $18 million, one-year contract last December, reported for spring training with a sore shoulder stemming from an offseason workout.

When camps were shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic, Hamels was able to take a more cautious approach to his rehabilitation. But a triceps issue sidelined again before the delayed start of the season in July.

The Braves hoped Hamels would return in time to provide a boost for the playoffs. He also was scheduled to start the final game of the regular season Sunday, putting him in position to join the postseason rotation behind Fried and Anderson.

Now, Hamels is done for the year, his Braves’ career possibly ending after he made that one appearance last week in Baltimore. He went 3 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on three hits, with two strikeouts and one walk in a loss to the Orioles.

Hamels reported no problems immediately after his start, but he didn’t feel right after a bullpen session a couple of days ago.

“You’re not going to try to talk the player into it,” Anthopoulos said. “When he says he isn’t right, that’s all we need to hear.”

Atlanta recalled right-hander Bryse Wilson to replace Hamels on the 28-man roster. The Braves did not immediately name a starter for Tuesday’s game.

With Hamels out, the Braves will apparently go with Fried (7-0, 1.96), Anderson (3-1, 2.36) and Kyle Wright (2-4, 5.74) as their top three postseason starters.

Hamels is a four-time All-Star with a career record of 163-122. He starred on Philadelphia’s World Series-winning team in 2008 and also pitched for Texas and the Chicago Cubs.

Last season, Hamels went 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 27 starts for the Cubs.