Advertisement
Sports

Fixing What Isn't Broken in the MLB All-Star Game

Once again, the voters got it mostly right in picking players for this year's All-Star Game, which will once again be kind of boring and kind of fun. Here are some fixes anyway.

by Jonathan Bernhardt
Jul 7 2016, 7:08pm

Photo by Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball will hold the 86th All-Star Game of its long and storied history on July 12th in sunny San Diego, and we couldn't be sorrier that your favorite player didn't make the roster. But in an objective, boring sense—you know, one based entirely around "performance" on the "field"—you know what? He probably deserved to be left off, if you're being honest with yourself, unless he's a National League shortstop. In that case, I know your hometown guy—whether he's Aledmys Diaz, Corey Seager, Zack Cozart, Danny Espinosa, Jonathan Villar, Brandon Crawford, or Trevor Story—is hitting better than Addison Russell, but he wasn't doing it while wearing a Chicago Cubs uniform, and that's what counts in 2016. Also Russell might play better defense than your guy, although no one actually cares about that when it comes to the All-Star Game.

The full rosters have been released. Aside from Russell, who will be both in attendance and starting mainly due to overenthusiasm from the large and rapidly growing Chicago Cubs fan base, the choices are, for the most part, disappointingly reasonable. Miguel Cabrera should be starting over Eric Hosmer at first base for the American League, maybe, and there are probably Marlins fans who think Marcell Ozuna is a better talent to celebrate as the starting centerfielder for the National League than Yoenis Cespedes, given his youth and dynamism, but Ozuna works for a viper and plays in a haunted circus tent and he's probably never going to get the respect he's due until he's out of Miami.

Read More: Shohei Otani Is The Best Thing Going In Baseball

Enough about the actual voting results, though. Those were the result of democracy, the political system that most closely resembles math homework, and they are not to be trusted no matter how reasonable they seem. Look no further than Jackie Bradley Jr., who at this point last year had the plate approach of a pitcher who has been asked to pinch-hit late in a 14-inning game. Now he's starting for the American League All-Stars. Is it really credible that fans would have changed their minds about him so quickly just because he's improved every single facet of his game since his demotion and late-season call-up in 2015? We would remind you that these are the same people who, in 2014, voted the desiccated husk of Derek Jeter into the All-Star Game as a starter. At shortstop. There is neither reason nor mercy in them. We can do better.

Or if not better, we can probably pick a team that's a little more interesting.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

C Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals — Perez earned his spot here not through his hitting (which has been excellent) or his catching (which has been superb) but because when Manny Machado charged the mound against Royals starter Yordano Ventura a few weeks ago, Perez let the two of them resolve their differences without any interference on his part. That resolution involved a headlock into a DDT, in the middle of a brawl. Hopefully he'll bring the same sense of perspective to the All-Star Game.

1B Mitch Moreland, Texas Rangers — No one knows who Mitch Moreland is, and if we're careful, we can sneak one lucky fan onto the field wearing #18 and a Rangers cap. If anyone asks, your career slugging percentage is .439 and you like the Foo Fighters. That's a guess, but it's a high percentage guess.

As far as anyone knows, this is Mitch Moreland. Photo by Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

2B Brett Lawrie, Chicago White Sox — He's had a pretty good season so far, but mainly we want him on the team because the AL needs to be able to bro out as hard as Bryce Harper's NL squad, and Lawrie brings that additional dimension to the roster.

SS Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles — Machado's being played slightly out of position here because...

3B Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays — ...he once threw a bat at this guy. They're both adults, so they're both probably over it. Probably. As much as you get over something like that. Regardless of any animus, Donaldson and Machado are two of the more intense personalities in the AL (c.f., the previously mentioned DDT), and it would be interesting to see them on the field together in just about any context not involving an ejection.

OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — To be fair, the voters did get some things right.

OF Ian Desmond, Texas Rangers — Another Ranger! Or perhaps the first Ranger, given that the person wearing Mitch Moreland's uniform is a raffle winner who hasn't even played softball in a few years. Desmond, who had trouble even getting signed this offseason thanks to the qualifying offer that the Nationals tagged him with, has been a major reason the Rangers have the best record in baseball. We'll play him in left, as far away from first base as possible, and maybe he won't notice the whole Moreland thing.

OF Carlos Beltran, New York Yankees — Carlos Beltran is, pardon the baseball jargon, one of the coolest dudes in the game, and there's no telling how many more seasons he'll play after this one, if any. He's probably better suited for the DH role, but we're not naming a DH for the American League specifically so we can exclude David Ortiz from the starters. Beltran's going here instead.

Pitchers —The position players' dads. No one watches the All-Star Game to see people strike out.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

C Tuffy Gosewisch, Arizona Diamondbacks — His name is "Tuffy Gosewisch" and he's currently on an active Major League roster. If that doesn't sway you, he has a 219 OPS+. Trust us, it'll be fine.

What is to be done here? Photo by Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

1B John Jaso, Pittsburgh Pirates — John Jaso is being invited mainly because broadcasting his spindly dreadlocks outside of the United States might open him up to prosecution at the Hague. If America refuses to do something about his hair, hopefully the International Criminal Court will act.

2B Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals — We spent a good chunk of the time between the final out of the World Series and the Winter Meetings laughing about how some team, some goddamn team, was going to buy hook, line, and sinker into Murphy's exceptional postseason performance and ha ha ha, weren't those guys going to get taken for a ride. Anyway, the Nationals have won 51 games, Daniel Murphy leads the National League in batting average, and frankly we look kind of stupid.

SS Aledmys Díaz, St. Louis Cardinals — It's actually kind of infuriating that every other year a young and only modestly heralded Cardinal position player prospect explodes onto the scene with a seemingly instinctual ability to hit .300 with power. One team shouldn't be able to be this good at developing both pitching and hitting. But what would be more infuriating, even if you dislike the Cardinals as intensely as most baseball fans do, is the seventh or eighth best shortstop in the NL taking the starting spot that rightfully belongs to that out-of-nowhere Cardinal. So this is Diaz's spot. Cubs fans shouldn't worry, though. Kris Bryant should be a lock for the starter at third base, as there hasn't been a guy in the National League that's manned the hot corner better than—

3B Jake Lamb, Arizona Diamondbacks — Oh. Right. Him. He has. Jake Lamb is leading the NL in both slugging and raw OPS, too. Kris Bryant's been pretty good, though, and that's why he will get to play in the fourth inning.

OF Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets — Starting in the outfield is merely our opening offer. Does he want to play centerfield? Done. Does he want any fielding errors there attributed to whatever poor teammate of his happens to be closest at the time? Done. Does he want to choose not only his own walkup music but everyone else's? Done. We will accede to any demands Mr. Cespedes or his representatives make, so long as he participates in the Home Run Derby this year.

We need this. Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

OF Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals — Harper doesn't need an invitation because he's on the planning committee. He has emoji plans. He's got final approval for the whole brand. He's even pioneering new tech that'll make articles about exit velocity tolerable to read. It's inconceivable to have an event like the Haphazardly Fixed All-Star Game without Harper, quite frankly.

OF Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins — He will be required to bring the Marlin Home Run Abomination with him to San Diego, where it will be mounted in the outfield, in play, until such a time as someone sees fit to set it on fire.

Pitchers — If a pitching machine is not available, I guess just get Alfredo Simon.

***

The voters got most of it right, of course. They often do, even when one team or another has wholly dedicated themselves to stuffing the ballot box. If you're worried that your guy wasn't one of the 68 names that were announced on Wednesday—and you're being reasonable, unlike those of us on Team Jaso—chances are good that he'll find his way onto the roster eventually as players drop out due to injury and scheduling and just plain not wanting to do it.

The Home Run Derby won't be as much fun as you remembered or feel like it should be, and the All-Star Game itself will run longer than you hoped, but both those things happen every year. The fun of it, each year, is the weird moments between and around the game, where humans who happen to be really good at baseball do various human things, usually with their kids, and increasingly with iPads.

One of the leagues will win home-field advantage, and that won't actually matter to anyone but the San Francisco Giants and whoever the AL patsy is this year. Everyone will look pretty goofy in the All-Star Game jerseys. Everyone, not just the players, will get a break from the grind of baseball. God willing, a heroic Marine will land the Stone Cold Stunner on both ball hawk Zack Hample and the Marlins Man. Hopefully one right after the other. In the entire history of the All-Star Game, that hasn't happened yet. But it feels like we're due.

Want to read more stories like this from VICE Sports? Subscribe to our daily newsletter.

Tagged:
Sports
Baseball
VICE Sports
Chicago Cubs
mike trout
MLB All-Star Game
Yoenis Cespedes
dingers
bryce harper
kris bryant
addison russell
taters
ian desmond
"mitch moreland"
alfredo simon
jake lamb
mlb all-star addison russell