Harrison a deserved All-Star as baseball errs
Jul 10, 2012
Before I digress into the down-sloping direction of Major League Baseball, let me first give credit where credit is due.
Harrison, a South Granville High School graduate, was named to the American League All-Star team after an 11-win first-half of the season to lead all AL pitchers (tied with one-time Durham Bull David Price). The 6-foot-4 lefty that started Game 7 of the World Series last year, also boasts a 3.10 ERA (7th in the AL), two complete games (4th), 113.1 innings pitched (7th), .733 win percentage (6th) and sits in the top 10 of nearly every other expanded pitching category.
Yet somehow he was never in the discussion to start Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic in Kansas City. Why? No, seriously, why?
Harrison has said on record that he doesn’t think he’s deserving and that he never considered himself the starter. But that’s the “right thing to say” in interviews; too humble.
It would at least make sense to see Harrison throw two innings against the senior circuit’s best because Tuesday is his natural five-day spot. He is coming off a complete game effort, walks almost nobody and when healthy is perhaps the best No. 3 pitcher in all of baseball – would be a No. 1 on some rosters.
It’s no secret that the All-Star game is a popularity contest – as is anything that the fans can control – so Harrison is handicapped there to the likes of Justin Verlander. And with that in mind, congratulations to Josh Hamilton, another local product whose story is well enough chronicled that I need not repeat it. The fact is that even if not for the fans, Hamilton is one of the MLB’s single best pure players.
Now the digression.
Baseball, America’s Pastime, has become run-of-the-mill and secondary in the mainstream sports world. It saddens me greatly.
Don’t get me wrong, the division realignment post-expansion in the mid-1990s I felt was necessary and the game has benefitted from the addition of a wild card team in each league. I as an individual benefitted from the Colorado Rockies and spent countless hours and dollars at Coors Field. But the ideas of revenue over tradition are starting to get a little too carried away nowadays.
Call me a purist, but I think the tinkering needs to stop.
First, the Houston Astros going to the AL to balance the divisions is terrible. I can understand rivalries and all that, but we are losing league identities. There will soon be year-around interleague play. What happened to the days of an AL and an NL? It has now become MLB.
A league president presiding over each league, the bragging rights of the World Series, bitterness that allows Pete Rose to plow Ray Fosse in an All-Star Game are what made baseball so awesome growing up. It was two games, played under two constructs of rules and ideas. Now it’s no different than the other major sport conglomerates that have nothing more to complain about than east and west coast bias.
I fear for the day when the NL adopts the designated hitter. Thug ball I call it.
As for the All-Star Game counting, I'm fine with it so long as the players take it seriously. The team with home field advantage has won 21 of the last 26 World Series and we need to look no further than last year to see a team benefiting. If the players blow it off though, and it is just another exhibition, then it becomes a sideshow.
I am sensing a trend toward the more serious (aside from the Home Run Derby) in the approach, although it is still missing the Rose-Fosse intensity.
Next is the impending expanded playoffs. Why? This is not Little League. Teams don’t need participation medals.
The playoffs are the only time some people watch baseball (which also saddens me) but to expand it is to dis-reward the long-preserved prestige of winning the division. What would the Atlanta Braves and Bobby Cox say? “The Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant!” means nothing to modern baseball fans.
At one point the St. Louis Blues had the longest active streak of playoff appearances at nearly two dozen years and it’s no wonder, every NHL team makes the playoffs (no disrespect to the Los Angeles Kings, but they should have never been in the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup in the first place). Reward 90-win seasons, not 82.
There are so many slides to go down, but I will close with instant replay. Simply put, NO!
Baseball was raised to be a gentleman’s game - the human experience, truth, honesty and good old fashioned mistakes. Let people be people within the confines of the diamond.
“But if we have the technology why don’t we use it?” people argue. Because baseball is better than that.
I do not think it will slow the game down or anything like that, I feel like it will lessen the integrity of the game. Umpires are people just as the players are. A pitcher will hang a curveball that ends up in a river somewhere and an umpire will miss a safe/out call that results in the game-tying run two batters later. You grow up with it on the Little League fields and you can at the big league level too (don’t get me started on Little League parents, but suffice it to say replay might be better off there than in the MLB).
Back to Bobby Cox, he would have never owned the dubious ejection record with replay installed. And Tony Tarasco being robbed by a fan would have changed things, if only for a short time.
I could rant for days on the subject, but I will spare you. Long post short, congrats to Matt and Josh.