All Star Game
According to reports from MLB, while there is hope to resume the baseball season in May and play all 162 games, there are indications the baseball season may not be able to start until July. Overall, the optimistic view is Memorial Day weekend, and the pessimistic view is Fourth of July or All-Star Weekend.
Actually, the pessimistic view is no 2020 season, but we’ll address that at some other time.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume baseball cannot resume during the month of May, and there is going to need to be some form of Spring Training in June before baseball can begin anew. At that time, even the most casual of baseball fans will be baseball starved, and they will want to see any form of baseball as soon as they can.
Now, the later the season goes, the chances of the All Star Game actually being played become increasingly more remote. That’s problematic for the Los Angeles Dodgers who were awarded the game, and they cannot get the game back until 2022.
When you think about it, there is no reason for the Dodgers to lose the All-Star Game. After all, it is just an exhibition designed to give fans baseball at at time players are getting a mid-season break. On a related note, it is an event baseball wishes they could garner more interest leaving them to try different things like “making the game count” or miking up players in the field.
In some ways, COVID19 presents a real opportunity for MLB to get as much possible interest in the All-Star Game. If MLB were to start the 2020 season with the game, instead of using it as the midway point of the season, a baseball craved fanbase and sports starved world will likely tune it to watch at record numbers.
If you think about it for a second, the All Star Game is well suited for Spring Training anyway. Pitchers can only pitch a maximum of two innings. Position players play a couple of innings. There’s light workouts mostly generated in getting fan attention. In essence, the All-Star Game is really just a hyped Spring Training Game.
If it’s really just a Spring Training game with really good players, let’s make it a Spring Training All-Star Game, at least this one year. After all, it is not unprecedented to begin a professional sports season with a marquee event. For example, NASCAR begins their season with the Daytona 500, an event they deem their “Super Bowl.”
Seeing how this is fan driven event with each team getting a representative, allow the fans to pick the representative from their team. It’s a fun way to do it too. We can see Jacob deGrom and Pete Alonso squre off. Maybe this could lead to another video of Alonso and Jeff McNeil to make their case as to why it should be Alonso.
Other teams can have similar fun and interesting debates. For Yankee fans, is your guy Aaron Judge or Gleyber Torres, or are you already star struck by Gerrit Cole? Do Dodgers fans love Clayton Kershaw that much, or is Cody Bellinger their guy now? Like Yankees fans, maybe it is the new guy Mookie Betts.
There are fun possibilities, and honestly, it gives baseball fans something to argue and debate leading up to the start of the season. If people are searching for things to talk about now, just wait until there are no sports in March, April, and May. Fighting over who should and should not be an All-Star will be at a fevered pitch, at least that’s the hope.
Once there are 15 players selected by the fans for each squad, the players can fill out the rest of the 34 man roster. After all 34 players are named, the fans can then vote who from the pool of players should be starters in the All-Star Game.
Again, the concept here is to get fans engaged with something to discuss and to give people baseball even when MLB can’t give them baseball. Then, finally, when MLB can give them baseball, they will start the abbreviated season with a must-see event with the best players in the game taking the field.
Overall, it allows us to have the All-Star Game, and it gives us something to look forward to, which at a time like this is something we really need.
For the third time in his career, Jacob deGrom took the mound in an All Star Game. Tonight, he once again proved himself to be an All-Star among All-Stars.
He only needed seven pitches to get through the third inning. He’d strike out George Springer before getting DJ LeMahieu to ground out and Mike Trout to pop out. Getting Trout to pop out was a small measure of revenge with Trout homering off him last year.
So far, deGrom has faced 10 batters in the All Star Game, and he has struck out five of them. That’s right. In a game featuring the best of the best, deGrom still goes out and dominates.
This was just STUPID.
99mph from Jacob deGrom followed by a FILTHY 94mph slider.
— Pitcher List (@PitcherList) July 10, 2019
Seeing his All Star Game appearances, the 2015 postseason, and last year, deGrom has established himself as the best of the best. Really, you could make the argument he’s the best out of anyone not named Mike Trout.
He's just a rookie. 😳 pic.twitter.com/5GpD0klM33
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 10, 2019
By the way, between taking out Carlos Santana in the first round of the Home Run Derby, making the pick robbing Santana of a base hit, and getting the two RBI single off Hand, Alonso may want to stay out of Cleveland for a while.
Perhaps, the best moment of the night was Jeff McNeil entering the game and playing left field a year to the date when Mickey Callaway informed the press McNeil wasn’t getting called up because he was just a second baseman.
Mickey Callaway says no Jeff McNeil because he's strictly a second baseman. #mets
— Zach Braziller (@NYPost_Brazille) July 9, 2018
Overall, the NL lost to the AL 4-3. However, the Mets came out as winners tonight, especially deGrom.
One of several mistakes Bud Selig made as Commissioner was trying to make the All Star Game “count.” This was a complete overreaction to a tie game in the 2002 All-Star Game held in Milwaukee when both teams ran out of pitchers. Instead of just acknowledging this was a one year fluke and maybe make provisions to add pitchers to the roster, Selig did what he did and tried to radically overhaul things. Fortunately, he is gone and so is the All-Star Game counting nonsense.
What remains is a game that is great on its own merits.
When you break it down, the All Star Game has always been about moments which have always arisen because you have the beset players in the game sharing the same field. It is Torii Hunter robbing Barry Bonds of a home run. It’s Pedro Martinez electrifying the home crowd striking out five. It’s Alex Rodriguez moving to third base to let Cal Ripken, Jr. playing shortstop in his final All-Star Game. For Mets fans, it’s Jacob deGrom striking out the side on 10 pitches:
In addition to the moments, it’s about seeing the young players on the stage for the first time. The 2015 All Star Game was his first one. In that moment, Mets fans got to see one of their aces measure himself against the best in the game, and he became a sensation. It also became a prelude to what deGrom would do in the NLDS.
This is similar to 2006 when David Wright was an All Star for the first time. He was a surprise second place in the Home Run Derby, and he followed that up with a home run in his first at-bat as an All-Star. As much as anything, the 2006 All Star Game launched Wright from Mets star to superstar.
This is what is in front of Pete Alonso. He beat Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. in one of the best Home Run Derbies ever. In that Home Run Derby, Alonso introduced himself to America. This is like Wright in 2006 and deGrom in 2015. He’s a fun personality who hits the ball harder than anyone.
If not him, maybe it is Jeff McNeil. He’s the type of player old school fans and more modern families love alike. You could see him playing all over the field today while slashing hits all over the place. If the National League needs a big hit late in the game, McNeil could be that guy.
That’s what makes the All Star Game great and fun every year. We get to see players like Alonso and McNeil introduce themselves to America. We get to see other fans see what we see everyday and appreciate how others appreciate them. We also have the satisfaction of knowing they are Mets. They can create the great moments we will be talking about for years to come.
In an effort to make the All Star voting more enticing and draw interest to the game, Major League Baseball has changed the voting for this year. Essentially up until June 21, the fans get to vote like they always did. After that, there will be a “Starters Election.” The Staters Election has the fans vote for the starters from the now reduced list over a 28 hour window.
This is a change for its own sake, and it gets it partially right (more on that in a moment). Really, if Major League Baseball wants to get fans interested in the game, let the fans pick their own All Star. In this instance, their own All Star means the player they want to represent their favorite team.
Take the Marlins for example. Are any of their players really All Star worthy? Maybe Brian Anderson who has a 1.8 WAR this season. The problem there is Anderson is 10th among NL third baseman in WAR meaning if he’s selected a worthy player is going to be left off in his stead.
Now, that’s the way it is and will always be so long as every team is represented. If this is going to continue to be a fan spectacle, you do want to see every team represented. After all, even a team like the Marlins, who draw worse than some Triple-A teams, has fans, and you want them to tune in to watch. You want to see Anderson, or whoever their representative is play in the game.
But if you’re going to want to entice the Marlins fans to watch, why not let them pick who they want to watch. For them, it could be Anderson, Miguel Rojas, Caleb Smith, or whomever else it might be. If you boil it down, if you are keeping a representative for every team to keep fans engaged, let them pick their representative.
By doing so, you not only keep them engaged, but you also prevent them from seeing a player they don’t want to see in the game. For example, Mets fans saw Bobby Bonilla as their lone All-Star in 1993 and 1995 despite the fans likely wanting to see players like Dwight Gooden, Rico Brogna, or John Franco in the game. Remember, if you are trying to entice fans, you should entice them with players they want to see play.
That includes being able to vote for pitchers. There are logistical issues with pitchers being available to pitch in the game. However, that should not prevent fans from having their favorite players on the roster even if they cannot participate in the game.
Remember that this would create a pool of just 15 players on a 34 man roster. That’s just seven additional players. Certainly, you could accommodate this by adding six more roster spots if deemed necessary. After all, September rosters are 40. If a manager can handle 40 players in September, there’s no reason he cannot handle that in an exhibition game where managers try go get everyone into the game.
Really, when looking at it that way, there’s no real reason why fans couldn’t or even shouldn’t pick their own team’s representative. Let the Marlins pick their one guy. Mets fans seem to want to push for Pete Alonso. Let them see him in the game. Let Yankees fans send CC Sabathia for one last All Star appearance before his possible Hall of Fame career ends. Again, let fans see who they want to see who they want.
You can do a results show on MLB Network announcing those players. You can then do another show announcing the pool of elected players. Then, you can do the Staters Election Major League Baseball has implemented. Only this time, fans are picking from the actual All-Stars. Then, you can hold the results until the game.
You get fans tuning in a little earlier to find out exactly who the starters are because they won’t know until player introductions. If all done properly, you get more interest because fans are seeing who they actually want to see, and you get more people tuning in earlier in order to see the results. Ultimately, this is the best way to handle every team represented and creating the highest possible level of fan interest in the game.
While Ron Hunt might’ve been the first Mets player to start an All Star Game, he was not the first Mets player to be elected an All Star by the fan vote. That would not happen until 1971, one year after the fan vote was reinstated. In total, the Mets have had 12 players elected as All Star starters with none of them coming since 2013.
Can you name the Mets who have been elected All Star starters? Good luck!
The Mets are really pushing Pete Alonso for the All Star Game. You can understand why. He was a sensation in April, he’s threatening Darryl Strawberry‘s Mets and Mark McGwire‘s MLB record for homers by a rookie. On top of that, he’s a fun player who has quickly become a fan favorite.
The problem with pushing Alonso is he shouldn’t be an All Star first baseman. Trailing Max Muncy, Freddie Freeman, and Josh Bell in WAR, and he’s tied with Anthony Rizzo. What may come as a shock is Alonso trails all but Muncy in wRC+.
Now, it’s not a travesty if Alonso makes it. In fact, he’s had a good enough season where his being named an All Star is more than merited. It would be good for him and baseball. Then again, there are more deserving candidates.
There are also more deserving Mets. Front and center is Michael Conforto.
Conforto is currently in the top six in WAR among outfielders meaning he should solidly be an All-Star. He’s also sixth in wRC+. Defensively, he’s just 16th in DRS, but that does qualify as fourth best among right fielders.
Overall, Conforto has been terrific this year, and looking at the numbers, he absolutely should be an All-Star. Considering his production and what he’s been for this team, there should be a push among fans and the team to elect him an All Star starter.
All-Star wallpapers for All-Star players. 🌟
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 13, 2019
It’s not happening. Instead, the team is pushing Alonso and Jeff McNeil. As an aside, McNeil is very deserving as well. That said, neither McNeil nor Conforto are among the top nine. They should be. Perhaps, if the Mets and their fans cared to notice how good they’ve been they would be.
Up until some old tweets resurfaced, you would have to say the All-Star Game was going to be a smashing success for Major League Baseball.
Bryce Harper electrified the crowd and baseball winning the Home Run Derby. After years of baseball’s most ardent fans begging him to become more marketable, Mike Trout would not only allow himself to be miked during the game, he would also do some shtick with the weather with Ken Rosenthal.
This really was about letting players be themselves and showing their personality on the field. While it was a good game that went into extra innings, the highlight was really the interactions players on the field had with the booth including Francisco Lindor, Matt Kemp, Harper, and Trout. It was seeing them have fun playing a game they and we love:
Always something special #AllStarGame
Thank you for the hospitality DC!!! pic.twitter.com/F43MN0dZLQ
— Mike Trout (@MikeTrout) July 18, 2018
Speaking of those interactions, how great was it to see hear Harper refer to Trout as the best player in the game?
Well, it was about as great as it was awful to see some of Josh Hader‘s tweets from seven years ago. Actually no, seeing those tweets were much worse than that.
There’s no need to republish those now deleted tweets here. You can find them if you want. Suffice it to say, they were racist and homophobic. Post-game, he was left searching for an explanation:
It was something that happened when I was 17 years old. As a child, I was immature. I obviously said some things that were inexcusable. That doesn’t reflect on who I am as a person today. And that’s just what it is.
* * * * *
I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve said and what’s been going on. And like I said, that doesn’t reflect any of my beliefs going on now.
* * * * *
When you’re a kid, you tweet what’s on your mind.
In some corners, his blaming it on his youth is probably going to go over about as well as the statements themselves. Perhaps rightly so, there will be people who didn’t think or say those things when they were 17, and they are going to judge a 23 year old man about things he said as a 17 year old.
There is a real problem approaching it that way.
We don’t know Hader’s life experiences and influences when he was growing up in Millersville, Maryland. We don’t know the beliefs of his family, his school, his friends, and the like. Whether people want to admit it or not, what Hader said as a 17 year old is a true reflection of his upbringing and his area because someone or something made him believe it was alright to not just speak like that, but to also publish it on Twitter.
That’s not excusing anything he said. No reasonable person will excuse it or take this to say Hader is blameless. He’s not.
What is important was Hader was a young person who said some incredibly stupid things. What is more important is Hader is a 23 year old man. The hope in life is you have matured as you grow older. As you mature and grow older, you should become wiser and more tolerant.
Put another way, you don’t expect a 23 year old man to think and say the things a 17 year old teenager would.
To that end, there should be more interest in how and why Hader has matured to the point where he now disavows those statements. In many ways, it is of more importance Hader said those statements don’t reflect who he is now or what his current beliefs are. We should hear more about that transformation, and he has the exact platform he needs to do it.
Remember, baseball is a sport with its own racist past. It is also one which did a brave thing and broke not just it’s own but professional sport’s color barrier with Jackie Robinson. It’s now a sport which names its humanitarian award for Roberto Clemente, a Puerto Rican.
If a sport like baseball full of bigots could grow to become much more inclusive, then so can someone like Hader.
Given how the offensive statements were made right before he was drafted, it’s quite possible it was Hader’s experiences in baseball were those that made him mature and see how wrong he was. Major League Baseball and Hader should be at the forefront in the coming days and weeks to explain how it was baseball and his interactions with people that led him to mature and become a better person.
Don’t hide behind anything. The comments are public, and out in the open. There’s no more hiding. Rather, own up to them, and explain to everyone why you are a better person. More importantly, tell us how you became a better person.
Who knows? Maybe there is a 17 year old out there right now who thinks the same way Hader did back in 2011. Maybe, just maybe, Hader speaking out now will help reach that person and make them a better human being. When that happens, we need to listen and be accepting of his being a better person.
Really, some good can come of this. Hopefully, everyone will do their part to make sure that happens.
Each and every year, there are a number of notable All Star snubs. While some would argue it’s attributable to the every team represented rule, it’s really a function of how many good players there are in Major League Baseball. Mostly, it’s a function of some really bad decisions by people who are supposed to know better. For example, look at the players who were selected as outfielders for the National League:
- Nick Markakis (3.1 WAR, 135 wRC+)
- Bryce Harper (0.0 WAR, 119 wRC+)
- Matt Kemp (1.5 WAR, 137 wRC+)
- Charlie Blackmon (-0.6 WAR, 114 wRC+)
- Lorenzo Cain (4.5 WAR, 125 wRC+)
- Christian Yelich (2.5 WAR, 121 wRC+)
Two things should be immediately noted: (1) none of these players were their team’s lone representative for the All Star Game; and (2) each one of these players were selected by either fan or player vote.
When looking over this list, immediately Blackmon jumps off the page as undeserving. Harper is probably close to it, but with his track record, the game being played in D.C., and his being elected via the fan vote, you can certainly understand why he was an All Star this year.
What isn’t as understandable is why Brandon Nimmo isn’t an All Star.
At the close of the first half of the season, Nimmo is the National League leader in wRC+ (137) meaning he was the best offensive outfielder in the National League.
His 2.4 WAR puts him above everyone except Cain, Markakis, and Yelich. Although it should be noted if we used fWAR instead of bWAR for the analysis, Nimmo would be ahead of Yelich.
More than that, Nimmo is a player from the largest market in the country who is an eminently marketable player.
Nimmo is a guy who is always hustling, and he does everything with a smile on his face. No matter the score, Nimmo gives an honest effort on the field. It’s a large reason why Mets fans adore him. If he was exposed to a larger audience, other fanbases would get a chance so see him, appreciate him, and adore him as well.
And you know with how lazy national broadcasts are, they would go on and on about Nimmo whenever he entered the game. There would be discussions about how he’s always smiling, he sprints around the bases on a walk or homer faster than most players do on a double, and his pointing to the heavens after a walk. Again, marketing him is easy.
In the end, Nimmo and Mets fans lost out on his being an All Star snub. Mostly, baseball missed out on a guy who is everything that is right about the sport. They missed out on an opportunity to market a guy who has had a smile that has lit up the entire city of New York.
The 2018 MLB All Star Game in Washington, D.C. is about a month and a half away, and All Star voting on the horizon, the Mets will look to send as many as four players to the Midseason Classic:
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
Stats: .313/.352/.523, 15 2B, 3B, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 1.0 WAR
All-Star Appearnces: 2011, 2012
Cabrera jumped right out of the gate, and he quickly emerged as an early season MVP candidate. When the Mets have needed a big hit, by and large, it has come from Cabrera.
Among qualifying second baseman, Cabrera has the most doubles. He is also in the top five in hits, batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS, homers, and RBI.
Cabrera’s dip in May has weakened his attempt to become a third time All Star. It’s not going to be an easy path for him with some steep competition coming from Ozzie Albies, Scooter Gennett, and Cesar Hernandez.
Brandon Nimmo, OF
Stats: .260/.408/.519, 4 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 3 SB, 1.2 WAR
All Star Appearances: None
Like Michael Conforto last year, one thing that may complicate Nimmo’s ability to become an All Star is whether or not he will appear on the ballot. While that may prevent him from being elected a starter, his play on the field may force his way onto the roster.
If Nimmo had enough plate appearances to qualify, he would lead all National League outfielders in OBP. His SLG would also be the fourth best in the National League, and quite impressively, his .927 OPS would be the second best behind just A.J. Pollock, who is also going to be out for about two months with a broken left thumb.
Ultimately, this may be too difficult a group to crack for Nimmo as he is battling bigger names like Bryce Harper and Charlie Blackmon, who are arguably having better seasons. There may also be a push for a player like Nick Markakis, a good player for a first place team, to make his first All Star appearance in his 13 year career.
Jeurys Familia, RHP
Stats: 2-2, 2.16 ERA, 14 SV, 1.040 WHIP, 11.2 K/9
All Star Appearances: 2016
Among closers, Familia leads the league in games finished, and he is third in saves and ERA. Another consideration, is for a Mets team who has expected a lot from their relievers, Familia ranks third among closers in innings pitched.
These numbers are easy to overlook for many Mets fans when you consider Familia has only converted 14 of 18 save opportunities, and they are still hung up on some postseason failures from the past.
As it pertains to Familia, those stats may no longer be sufficient. As time progresses, we all look less and less to saves as the true measure of a reliever’s worth. Certainly, the emerge of firemen like Josh Hader are going to complicate things for the selection of relievers for the National League bullpen.
Jacob deGrom, RHP
Stats: 4-0, 1.52 ERA, 1.010 WHIP, 11.7 K/9
All Star Appearances: 2015
Right now, deGrom is the best pitcher in the National League, and he is a lock to represent the Mets in the All Star Game. If the game was not being played in Washington, you could make the case he should start the All Star Game. However, the presence of Max Scherzer will stand in the way of that happening.
What is interesting to note with deGrom is if he doesn’t step aside for Bartolo Colon in 2016, we would be talking about a pitcher who has been in All Star in three out of the last four seasons. That’s something we saw from Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden. As this season continues to unfold, you can make the case deGrom deserves consideration of being grouped with those names. If not them, then at least in the conversation as the third best Mets starter of all-time.
In the end, it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, will be joining deGrom. Up until recently, you could have made a case for both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, but recent hiccups may be enough to prevent them from being All Stars in their own right. That said, another impressive run from them, or really anyone, could have them joining deGrom as Mets representatives this year.
Things got off to a pretty good start in the All Star Game when Michael Conforto actually had his name announced during player introductions.
Things got better for him. He’d enter the game in the sixth. In his only chance in the game, he would make a nice leaping grab on an Avisail Garcia liner. He finally got to bat in the bottom of the seventh, and he singled against Roberto Osuna:
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) July 12, 2017
Conforto’s big moment came in the bottom of the ninth. With the game tied and runners at the corners, he faced off against Craig Kimbrel. Unfortunately, he struck out to end the inning.
It was a good day for the Mets star, but unfortunately, it won’t be the moment we will be talking about for years to come. That moment will be Nelson Cruz taking his phone to the plate and having Yadier Molina take a picture of him with Home Plate Manager Joe West:
— TheRenderMLB (@TheRenderMLB) July 12, 2017
Molina then followed this moment by hitting an opposite field homer against Ervin Santana.
Your MVP would be Robinson Cano. Cano’s 10th inning homer off Wade Davis was the difference in the game. On the bright side, the Mets weren’t the only New York team to lose an All Star second baseman.
Former Mets: In addition to Conforto, there were more than a few ex-Mets on the field.
Jason Vargas pitched one scoreless inning.
The American League’s sole run came when Miguel Sano blooped a single into a Bermuda Triangle of Nationals – Murphy, Bryce Harper, and Ryan Zimmerman.
Having pitched Sunday, Michael Fulmer did not appear in the game.