Looking at the All-Star team snubs and surprises

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For all of the complaining people like to do about All-Star teams, the voting process and all of that, the fact is that All-Star squads of the past several years have been pretty good. Part of that is that the rosters are so big now that it’s hard to truly “snub” someone. Also operating here is the unspoken fact that a good many guys beg out because of injuries — or “injuries” and ultimately most of the guys who truly want to be there and deserve to be there are actually there.

Still, there are always some weird things and oddities with All-Star rosters so, in the wake of last night’s announcement of the rosters and the Final Vote guys, let’s look at a couple of them.

Most interesting thing: None of the specific players chosen or not chosen is the most interesting thing to me. No, the most interesting thing is what seems to be Ned Yost’s desire to actually win this game and manage it like a regular game. His selection of relievers Darren O’Day, Brad Boxberger and Kelvin Herrera, along with choosing Brock Holt, who is basically a utility guy, as his Red Sox representative makes his roster look more like an actual baseball team than an All-Star team. Mixing and matching, hard-throwing relievers and a super-sub give Yost flexibility to manage the heck out of the game, for better or for worse.

Biggest Snubs: Like I said above, there are no shockers or atrocities here. Brian Dozier not making it stinks — some people think he’s the best second baseman in the game — but with Jose Altuve and Jason Kipnis in the AL, it’s hard to add him. Bruce Bochy picked his guy Madison Bumgarner over Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Martinez and Johnny Cueto, even though all three of them are having better seasons than Bumgarner is, Cueto and Martinez by a decent margin. Justin Turner could be the NL equivalent of Brock Holt — someone who can play many positions — and is hitting the daylights out of the ball, but Bochy is looking at things differently than Yost, apparently.

The Final Vote: A-Rod and Joey Votto not even making the Final Vote thing is lame, but (a) A-Rod isn’t winning any final vote unless I’m 51% of the electorate; and (b) both of them are either old or fragile enough to where they could use some time off. The same excuse doesn’t hold for Carlos Correa, who may be one of the most exciting young players in baseball and plays short at a time when shortstop is a wasteland. He should be on there, but the remaining guys are more famous, so that’s how it goes. The NL has only one position player in the Final Vote — Troy Tulowitzki — which means that there’s a good chance that the NL All-Star team is going to have 14 pitchers. Wheeee!

The Upshot: This is the All-Star Game we have now. It’s geared toward not having ties, not running out of players, especially pitchers, and not showcasing the biggest names in the game for more than a couple of innings. Everyone gets a representative, almost everyone gets to play and it resembles baseball as we know it far less than anything else that happens during the season. In light of that we don’t have a lot of snubs — almost everyone gets to come! — but we likewise don’t get to truly see a clash of the Best vs. Best, and that’s a little sad.

Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of José Ureña

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We’re about an hour and a half separated from the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Marlins/Braves game that featured Marlins starter José Ureña hitting Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña on the elbow with a first-pitch, 97.5 MPH fastball. The benches emptied, Ureña was ejected, and the game went on. Acuña left the game not long after to tend to his injured elbow.

After the game, when the Marlins speak to the media, they will almost certainly deny any ill intent towards Acuña, who had hit leadoff home runs in three consecutive games against them. When they do so, they will be lying. Watch how catcher J.T. Realmuto sets up on the first pitch.

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Ureña’s 97.5 MPH fastball was in the 99th percentile in terms of velocity of the 2,125 pitches he has thrown this season. It was also the fastest pitch Ureña has ever thrown to begin a game. Ureña put a little extra mustard on this pitch, for some reason.

Ureña has a 6.8 percent walk rate, which ranks 37th out of 95 starters with at least 100 innings of work this season. The major league average is eight percent. Control isn’t typically something with which he struggles.

Furthermore, Acuña isn’t the only player who has drawn Ureña’s ire:

Ureña wanted nothing to do with Hoskins — even though Hoskins has yet to get a hit off of him — in his August 4 start at home against the Phillies, walking him twice which included a few up-and-in pitches.

Ureña will almost certainly be fined and suspended for his actions on Wednesday night against Acuña. But will his punishment be enough to deter him and others from wielding a baseball as a weapon? Probably not. On June 19, when Marlins starter Dan Straily intentionally threw at Buster Posey, he received a five-game suspension and manager Don Mattingly was suspended one game. If you look at Straily’s game logs, you can’t even tell he was suspended. He started six days later on June 25 against the Diamondbacks and again on July 1 and 6. Because starters only pitch once every five days, it was like he wasn’t even suspended at all.

Major League Baseball needs to levy harsher punishments on players who attempt to injure other players. A 15-game suspension, for example, would force Ureña to miss at least two starts and it would inconvenience the Marlins enough to more seriously weigh the pros and cons of exacting revenge. The Marlins couldn’t work around it the way they did Straily by pushing back his scheduled start one day.

Major League Baseball also needs to make a legitimate effort to do away with this culture of revenge against players who are just a little bit too happy. Batters get thrown at when they flip their bats, when they yell at themselves in frustration, and even when they’re just hitting well. Baseball’s stagnating audience is very old, very white, and very male. It is not going to bring in fans from diverse backgrounds by keeping this antiquated culture that prevents baseball players from showing their personalities and being emotive. In the event Acuña needs to go on the disabled list for a couple weeks, that’s two weeks that Acuña isn’t on SportsCenter’s top-10, isn’t on the front page of MLB.com, and isn’t in articles like this. The culture of revenge is actively harming MLB’s ability to market its bright, young stars. If ending this culture of revenge doesn’t hit MLB from a moral angle, it should absolutely hit home from a business angle.