At this point, people should understand that the Chicago Cubs have four starters in the All-Star game for several reasons. Some may not think all of them deserved it, but I could argue that with you all day long.
The Chicago Cubs will have the entire starting infield covered in tomorrow’s All-Star Game. Dexter Fowler was supposed to join them but is coming back from injury and didn’t want to push it, even though it’s his first All-Star selection. But is it fair the Cubs have seven representatives total? Yes, and I’ll do my best to explain why.
First off, the game is a popularity contest. Period. We all know that. And on top of that, it’s one in which whichever fan base has the time to use all 25 times of their allotted votes. Last season the Kansas City Royals just about put their entire team on the field. People didn’t like it, but they went on to win the World Series so it couldn’t have all been that bad. So does a player like Addison Russell and his .237 average have any business starting at shortstop? This is where it gets tricky.
Baseball made the decision to have the All-Star game mean something by placing home-field advantage in the World Series at stake. I think that was a brilliant decision that has brought more interest to the game. The complicated part is that the game takes place at the halfway point, and players don’t always finish like they start. Micah Hoffpauir anyone?
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In the NFL, they select the Pro Bowl rosters well before the end of the season but don’t play the game until after the season–actually, during the playoffs. So often times a player whose team is still in the playoffs will have to pass–not that they likely care. The game is meaningless. But I digress as I try to stay on tangent.
Russell might not be playing at All-Star caliber now, but before this year is over he could be. Look at the turnaround Anthony Rizzo has made. It wasn’t that long ago he was batting in the .240’s and was mired in a terrible slump. But he’s earned his spot, so has Kris Bryant. Ben Zobrist is having a solid year, but his body of work has helped get him here.
And what about Jake Arrieta? I know, he’s struggled a bit as of late, but he was selected as much for his stretch to finish last season as he was for this season–which wasn’t that bad, mind you. Now, if David Ross had been selected after Jon Lester made the push to get him in for his final season, then the conversation might not work in my favor. His value to the Cubs is undeniable, but an All-Star by definition he is not.
If this game was just about the city with the most people voting the most times, who would we see more of? More Blue Jays? Maybe more Pirates? It may be a popularity contest, but the fans still see something more than that in the players they select.
And don’t get me started on the bullpen guys. This is why I fell for the Cubs pen at times. When they do well, they get little praise–and definitely don’t get too many calls to the All-Star game. But when they struggle? Cut ’em. Trade ’em. Blah, blah, blah.
So what did all this mean? Stop trying to understand the logic behind the selection process. It may be flawed, but compared to the other major sports it is 100 times better. And in the end I think we’ll look back on a player like Russell making his first All-Star game and think more of it than when Hoffpauir made his–no offense, Micah.