Participation Trophies are for Little League, not the MLB All-Star Game

I know March Madness has come and gone, but we are bringing back a special edition of Blind Resume Season!

There can only be twelve pitchers on each MLB All-Star Game roster, which emphasizes how significant of an achievement it is to be an All-Star in your respective league.  Today’s matchup is comprised of two pitchers that were competing for a coveted spot on the 2018 American League All-Star pitching staff.

Pitcher 1 (rank AL Pitchers) Pitcher 2 (rank AL Pitchers)
Record 8-7 (T-15th) 12-4 (T-2nd)
ERA 3.54 (15th) 2.09 (1st)
Wins Above Replacement 2.2 (T-14th) 4.3 (4th)
Strikeouts 114 (12th) 132 (8th)

 

Although statistics are not everything, they are something.  Pitcher 2 has unquestionably outperformed Pitcher 1 thus far this season.  Pitcher 2 ranks in the top eight of every major statistical category in the American League, including number one in ERA.  Pitcher 2 also plays in the American League East, arguably the toughest division in baseball, while Pitcher 1 plays in the embarrassingly bad American League Central.

I would not be writing this right now if the logical choice was selected to the All-Star Game this year.

Pitcher 1 is Jose Berrios of the Minnesota Twins.  Pitcher 2 is Blake Snell of the Tampa Bay Rays.  Berrios is an above average pitcher this season and has been one of the few bright spots for a struggling Twins team.  Snell on the other hand has been an elite pitcher in a division where he faces the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox on a regular basis.

Snell will most likely still earn an All-Star bid since Justin Verlander is scheduled to start on Sunday, disqualifying him from pitching in the Mid-Summer Classic, but that is not the point.  The point is that the Major League implemented a rule in 2016 requiring the managers to include a player from each team in their league on their roster.  That means that A.J. Hinch was required to select a member of the Twins, which happened to be Berrios.

The fact that this is a rule is ridiculous and indefensible.

All-Star teams are meant to represent the best players in each sports league in a given year, not to make sure there is a player from each franchise represented so the fans do not get offended and have no reason to watch.  Imagine in the NBA if Draymond Green and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors were left off the Western Conference All-Star team for a member of the Sacramento Kings.  The Kings were so bad last year I do not even know who their representative would have been.

This current practice left this years potential AL CY Young winner off the initial roster and replaced him with an average pitcher for the sake of including a player from the Twins roster.

This sad part about this new rule is that it enables teams to tank, while still having the ability to be represented in mid-July every season.  When you are a fan of a team, and no one from your team does not earn an All-Star selection, it makes no sense to blame the MLB for that.  You as a fan should be holding everyone involved with the team accountable, from the owner to the GM to the scouts and the bat boy.  The MLB is deeper than it has ever been, and there is no reason for each team to have a DESERVING All-Star each season.

Where I grew up, they would take six players off one Little League team, and no one from two other teams if it meant having a better chance of winning their sectional All-Star tournament, AND THOSE KIDS WERE FUCKING 12 YEARS OLD!!!!!  That is the age you should be handing out participation trophies, not in professional sports when these athletes make a fortune off playing a sport at the highest possible level.  These athletes are grown men.

Fan engagement is important, and the MLB should continue to investigate every avenue they can to make the fan experience better each year, but it is more crucial they have a realistic representation of each baseball season, and who mattered most each year.  The All-Star Game roster is one of the first things fans will look at when determining the answer to that question.

All-Star team selections are a key factor when looking back at a player’s career to determine if he deserved to be enshrined in Cooperstown.  Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is the greatest accomplishment an athlete can achieve in their respective sport, and it is important that us as fans and the media give an honest and fair representation of what occurs in each season across the sports industry.  The National Baseball Hall of Fame is particularly difficult to get into, where players need 75% of the committee’s vote to make it in, and any trace of steroids significantly reduces your chances to join the elite group.  Blake Snell at this point of the season is a deserving All-Star, but in 10 years, no one will remember that time in July of 2018 when he got royally fucked out of a spot on the All-Star team.  He will just have five All-Star appearances instead of six, or two instead of three.  Now does that matter that much? Probably not, but the voters and MLB are not doing these top tier players justice by not selecting the top 32 players in each league.

I am a fan of sports.  It is a lot more fun to watch an All-Star game when your favorite players are playing in the game.  At the same time, I want the best players to be in these games, because that is the essential reason for having All-Star game.  For the better of the MLB, I hope Rob Manfred seriously considers going back to picking the best players and stashes his participation trophies for tanking teams in a closet at the New York City corporate offices.

Photo Credit: HashSports.com

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