It's not even the middle of May & yet I'm beginning to get really excited about one of my all-time favorite MLB rules: EVERY TEAM GETS ONE ALL-STAR! I love this rule for many, many reasons. First off, I love to hear the national media who apparently only watch "highlight film" baseball bemoan the fact that an Affirmative Action All-Star (to be known as AAAS) made the squad instead of (more deserving) Player X. Well, this isn't 'Nam, this is baseball. There are rules, Smokey. This usually leads to the all-star manager having to uncomfortably explain his decision to put said player on the team since he really can't come out and say, "Well, duh. I had to.." (although I think Ozzie was just dying to do just that last year...). Another cool thing about the rule is that I'm sure the AAAS gets an unintended boost in salary due to an "all-star" clause in his contract! YES! Just another way to screw bad teams. Let's also not forget that we baseball fans get a 3-month grace period to openly make fun of the AAAS while watching his games (example: "What is now? 6 - 0? Oh. I forgot. That AAAS is an all-star. I'm sure he'll pitch his way out of this..) Now, you only get 3-months because after the season is over, the joke really isn't funny. In fact, almost all baseball fans will have no memory of the All-Star game whatsoever at that point. Anyway, here's a list that I picked of some of the biggest, juiciest AAAS's of the last 10 years:
1997 - Jose Rosado - KC - SP (out of baseball by 2000 at age 25!)
1998 - (bad year; everybody at least has a plausible excuse to be there...)
1999 - Makes up for '98 by having 2 easy ones: Ed Sprague - 3B - PIT & Ron Coomer - 1B - MIN (both guys sucked during the year & were relegated to part-time roles immediately following their AAAS selection.. Picture perfect.)
2000 - Shane Reynolds - HOU - SP (only pitched in 15 games that year; has probably pitched for your favorite teams' AAA-affiliate at some point)
2001 - Paul Quantrill - TOR - RP (a perfect AAAS, a middle reliever who lucks his way to an 11-2 record, useless enough that they'll never have a chance to see the field.. Brilliant selection by Joe Torre)
2002 - Randy Winn - TB - OF (had a standard Randy Winn year, which means there is not way he should have even been watching the all-star game on tv. Also, he got to play! Remember... The best all-star game of all-time. Mark it, dude.)
2003 - Mike Williams - PIT - RP (the Phillies' trade-deadline savior! another classic AAAS move, take a bad closer from a bad team because people will see that Williams had 28 saves that year! (also an ERA over 6)
2004 - Ken Harvey - KC - 1B (one of the greats; out of baseball after 2005! I think you'll see a trend here...)
2005 - Mike Sweeney - KC - 1B (look, but I had to include him here because A) both teams were selected fairly well & B) Sweeney is a legacy AAAS, the safe pick for years from a team that is bad for years. That's how a guy who plays 2/3 of every season gets to be a 5-time all-star..)
2006 - Mark Redman - KC - SP (how could we forget you, Mark?)
Ok. The real reason I'm bringing this up now is because this year is another great year for AAAS, thanks to our friends, The Washington Nationals. Look at these, if you dare. WOW! Let's see if any of these guys fits into any stereotypical AAAS modes...
"Pretty good player who's been with the club for awhile & will smile purdy-like when ignored during introductions"? - Nope. Vidro left.
"Bad closer racking up the bad saves"? - Cordero should own this, but he's been beyond bad this year. BTW, do you think his agent is tipping all those "Cordero to the Red Sox?" stories? There's no way they want him in Beantown....
"Easily hidable middle reliever with some gaudy win totals"? - Hey! Jesus Colome is 2 - 0! He also has 12 K / 15 BB in 21 IP... ugh. But definitely a possibility..
"Youngster that we can Sweeney-ize early & not have to worry about picking a National for 5 years"? - Well, it should be Ryan Zimmerman, but how can you take a guy who is the 4th best 3B in his own division?
See what I mean? This is going to be great!
And now for the real kicker... I say we vote in a National as a starter! It happened in hockey (kind of....) Now, I'm going to ask you a question & answer truthfully..
Who doesn't want to see Ronnie Belliard in the 2007 All-Star game?
Think about it. Belly could be the first AAAS to truly BE an ass during the game! The hair; the amiable trots down the 1B line; the gut, the extortion!
We may have to write him in, but that would be even better!
Wouldn't it be nice? Belly for AAAS! Take up the cause!
Do you really want to see Austin Kearns in the All-Star Game? No way, not if I know ya...
COME ON! Belly for AAAS!
The guy barely got a major-league contract this year, for cryin' out loud!
Let's do this.
Belly for AAAS! Belly for AAAS! Belly for AAAS!
But wait a minute...
If he's voted on as a starter by the fans, that means he's not an AAAS...
WAIT! Even better! That way, we can get Belly to start AND an extra AAAS to take his place!
Everything's comin' up Ronnie Belliard tonight folks.
Stay tuned on this one. We've got the time to right a crime.
I'll keep you posted..