Monday, July 10, 2006

Top 5 Reasons to Watch Tomorrow Night’s All-Star Game

by Doug Silversten

It seems every year the All-Star Game comes around and it is greeted by a collective big yawn by the baseball world. Granted, I’d much rather be watching a game that counts than an exhibition. For whatever reason, I’d still rather tune in to even a meaningless Pirates-Royals interleague match-up than the All-Star Game. Maybe it is because that at least in that match-up, the statistics count, and thus there are fantasy implications. Pathetic, I know, but if you’re a fantasy fanatic, you know exactly what I mean.

However, baseball’s All-Star Game is still the best of the major sport offerings. While meaningless, at least there are occasional memories from some games in the past. Remember John Kruk’s classic at-bat against Randy Johnson? Pete Rose barreling over Ray Fosse? Or how about Bo Jackson’s monster shot in 1989?

So hopefully this year’s game brings another such moment. But even if not, I present to you the top 5 reasons to watch this year’s midseason classic…

5) Jonathan Papelbon – Despite yesterday’s blown save, Papelbon has been simply amazing. 46 IP. 25 H. 8 BB. 47 K. 3 ER. Wow. THREE EARNED RUNS! THREE! I remember during the opening week or so of the season, fantasy players who had Keith Foulke were hoping for a meltdown so Foulke would get an opportunity to close games again. So much for that. Not only did a meltdown never occur, Papelbon’s season is slowly reaching historic proportions. A lot can happen in the 2nd half, and there is every reason to believe than no human being can keep this pace up. However, if he does, we are perhaps witnessing one of the greatest seasons by a reliever in history. Only two really compare. Dennis Eckersley’s 1990 campaign where he gave up a whopping 5 ER in 73 1/3 innings and Eric Gagne’s 2003 season. While Gagne did give up 11 ER in 82 1/3 innings, the 37 hits and 137 Ks are absolutely remarkable. Of course, Gagne did bomb in the all-star game that year, giving up the game winning HR to Hank Blalock. Let’s see if Papelbon can avoid a similar fate in his All-Star debut.

4) B. J. Ryan - Why B.J. Ryan? Well, basically for the same reasons as Papelbon. Papelbon has gotten all the attention, but the Blue Jay’s big offseason acquisition has pretty much matched Papelbons. 42 2/3 IP. 21 H. 9 BB, 54 K, 4 ER. Almost as amazing as Papelbon. No one is criticizing Ricciardi’s move right now to give a closer $47 million, that’s for sure.

3) The National League Infield – Pujols, Utley, Wright and Reyes. Average age: 25. We all know the fans can often get the voting wrong, but they nailed the NL infield this year. And conceivably, if they all stay healthy, this could be the starting four for many years to come. I realize I am often critical of Reyes, but he deserves the start for his first-half performance. And he definitely is an exciting player. Let’s see if he can keep it up.

2) Jim Thome – Comeback Player of the Year? Hell, if he got hurt tomorrow and was out for the year, I’d still give him the award. He’s on pace for an amazing 57 HRs. Plus, from everything I hear and read about him, he is the world’s nicest guy and is very easy to root for. Too bad he plays for a team that, after the Yankees, is the easiest to root against, thanks to their rotten human being of a manager.

1) Home Field Advantage in the World Series – Look, I’m with you. The home field advantage for the World Series absolutely should be based on better regular season record of the two teams. However, quasi-commish Bud Selig says that is not feasible based on “logistics.” I never quite understood that. If a LCS goes to 7 games, you don’t know which city will be hosting the first two games of the World Series till potentially just two nights before the game. They manage that. Granting home field to the team with the better record introduces no more “logistical difficulty” than that scenario. However, having said that, you have to remember that before quasi-commish Bud decided to use the All-Star Game as the decider, they just alternated year to year. What sense does that make? Since that was completely arbitrary and ridiculous, this is at least an improvement. Bottom line, I don’t like it, but it is better than simply alternating. And, hate it or not, it does give you a little more reason to stay tuned to the final out. Especially if your team, like my team, has a shot at reaching the Fall Classic. Thanks to future 2006 NL MVP David Wright’s walk-off HR off Papelbon tomorrow night, Game 1 of the World Series will be hosted by the greatest city of the world.

Enjoy the All-Star Game!

Doug Silversten's column, "The Big Picture", appears alternate Mondays


Anonymous Gene Carney said...

While looking for reviews of my book "Burying the Black Sox," I came across your site ... will revisit often, I'm sure.
Let me know if you have any trouble finding "Burying" or if you'd like to ask any questions about the 1919 Series, the players, etc.
Gene Carney

Saturday, July 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yahoo fantasy baseballAny one using the phrase "easy as taking candy from a baby, has never tried taking candy from a baby fantasy baseball

Thursday, September 14, 2006  

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