Game of Stars to Lack Brightest Star

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images

    Thirteen National League pitchers were named all-stars. Stephen Strasburg wasn’t one of them.

    And we wonder why the NL hasn’t won an All-Star Game since 1996?
    In building a roster, Charlie Manuel’s job was to assemble the best group of players possible, to give his league the best chance to win. The game’s meaningful, now, with home-field advantage in the World Series is on the line.
    I don’t know about you, but if I need to succeed at something, I’m surrounding myself with the best people possible. Manuel didn’t do that.
    Strasburg wouldn’t have started the game. He wouldn’t have even had to pitch an entire inning out of the bullpen. He could’ve been asked to retire one or two batters.
    Think about it: Strasburg’s arsenal in a minimal role where he can rear back for a little extra. That’s frightening.
    He could trot out of the bullpen and chuck his triple-digit fastball over the plate a handful of times. He could snap off a couple of his revered mid 80s breaking balls and get some swing-and-misses with his changeup.
    The world will be watching. Kids will be staying up late to see the game. His presence, as the most talked about player in MLB this season would benefit baseball immeasurably.
    And most importantly, he’d enhance the NL’s chances to win.   
    The knock on Strasburg is that his six starts since being called up on June 8 aren’t enough to warrant consideration. He’s been dominant and sets a new rookie strikeout record each time he pitches – but he hasn’t been around long enough.
    I’d like to hear what those “he doesn’t have enough seasoning” people think about Evan Meek’s selection. Meek, a stellar reliever for the Pirates, has only pitched nine more innings than Strasburg this season.
    Does the fact that he struggled in the big leagues last year make Meek more an all-star than Strasburg?
    For a long time the All-Star Game was just a showcase of baseball’s top talent. It was a glorified mid-season banquet that commemorated the accomplishments of a slew of top performers.
    The game celebrated baseball in a way that was a few notches above your “beer league softball” league’s championship game. And it worked.
    The fans voted players like Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn starters in their final seasons, even though there were better options. And that was fine.
    It was a fun event that meant nothing, and it was a showcase of the faces that the fans wanted to see.
    But that all changed in 2002 when the game ended in a tie.
    Commissioner Bud Selig, appalled by the result and the subject of immense scrutiny, decided to make the game “count.”
    He wanted to restore the mid-summer classic’s credibility, so he ruled that for the following season – the league that won the game also won home-field advantage in the World Series. For that one year, the idea wasn’t bad.
    Eight years later, “This time it [still] counts.” And it shouldn’t.
    But as long as it does, the 34 best players from each league should participate in the game -- every team shouldn’t need to be represented -- and Strasburg is one of those players.
    He’d fanned more than 50 percent of the right-handed batters he’d faced going into his last start. There’s not a pitcher on the NL team who would’ve been better in a late-inning situation against a righty.
    But he’ll be watching the game from home.
    Manuel missed an opportunity to improve his team, and baseball blew a chance to showcase its newest superstar for the world.
    Strasburg’s an all-star like filet mignon is classy. Whether he’s pitched in six games or 20, he’d improve the NL roster in a critical game, and that’s all that should matter.