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This game counts?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  July 13, 2011 10:00 AM

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PHOENIX ó This game counts. That's the slogan for the All-Star Game. The game determines home field for the World Series and Bud Selig loves it. The owners and players, who pocket plenty of money via Fox, love it, too.

That an exhibition game will determine how the championship series of a sport is conducted is one of the most irrational decisions of all time. But it's not changing.

So since the game counts, let's play it right.

There were 60 players who got on the field last night. That's about 30 more than a high school JV game. In the seventh inning, with his team down 4-1, Ron Washington let Carlos Quentin and Matt Joyce bat instead of Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton. It was more important to him not to offend Quentin and Joyce than to have better players in the game.

The AL started Jered Weaver. Then he was followed by Dave Robertson, Michael Pineda, C.J. Wilson, Jordan Walden, Chris Perez, Brandon League and Alexi Ogando. Not one of the relievers had ever been in an All-Star Game before.

That is not to say they are scrubs. But as the AL gave away home-field advantage, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, David Price, Mariano Rivera, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester were not available.

Some of them were injured or sort-of injured. The rest had pitched Sunday and therefore were ineligible.

Here's now the satirical website The Onion put it:

Baseball fans across the country have registered their excitement for Tuesday nightís MLB All-Star game, saying they canít wait to watch the leagueís annual showcase of its best players who arenít injured, arenít afraid of potentially getting injured, arenít too tired, are free the night of July 12, didnít pitch recently, arenít scheduled to pitch next week, donít mind making the trip to Arizona, and are actually willing to play two and a half innings of baseball.

They were trying to be funny. But they're right.

Something has to give. MLB can't say the game counts and then play it like a company picnic softball game.

For starters, play the game on Wednesday so the Sunday starters can pitch an inning. Play the Futures Game on Monday, the HR Derby on Tuesday, the All-Star Game on Wednesday and then give everybody a day off on Thursday. It's not perfect, but it's more perfect than having a Some Stars Game.

Inform the subs that playing time is not a right. Their union signed off on the "this game counts" silliness. The price you pay is not everybody gets to play. If it counts, Jose Bautista and Adrian Gonzalez need to get more than two at-bats.

Get the GMs involved. Why are the teams picked by fans, players, managers and MLB executives? I'd rather have Theo Epstein, Brian Cashman and Andrew Friedman figure it out. Or at least play a role.

So let me get this straight, I can sit at home, drink myself blind and vote 25 times for the players of my choice and actual people who build teams for a living have nothing to do with it? That makes sense.

Oh, and if you're picked, you play. Again, your union approved this. If you're not on the disabled list, you're playing. If this game counts, your behind better be in uniform and not in a bathing suit on a beach somewhere.

There's too much at stake for baseball to let the All-Star Game be played like this. We get it, this game counts. How about acting like it?

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What about you? What would be your idea to help fix the All-Star Game? Leave a comment below.

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