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franklin county times

The debate nears for MLB All-Stars

By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
July 5, 2003
It's the best part of any All-Star Game, and it will happen Sunday, as ESPN rolls out the All-Star Selection Show at 6 p.m.
Okay, so the selection show is not going to be the best part.
What is really the best part will come about five seconds after the last reserve player for the squads representing the American League and the National League is announced.
That's right, we're talking about the age-old tradition of arguing over who got snubbed, who shouldn't be there and who the heck is that guy representing the Milwaukee Brewers.
The endless fodder that the Major League Baseball All-Star Game produces for bar stool debates (i.e. outright arguments) is remarkable, and truly, the best part of the "Midseason Classic."
Let's face it, despite baseball's desperate attempt to get people to be interested in what should be a pure exhibition by allowing home-field advantage for the World Series to be decided by the winning league, the only good thing about these games is to see who and who did not make the team.
And this year should be no different.
For point of reference here are the leading voter getters for the NL and AL teams as of Wednesday, when the balloting closed.
As long as there is not another grassroots movement for an individual player like two years ago, when fans bumped Cal Ripken Jr. past David Bell at AL third base and into his 17th and final All-Star Game, the lineups will most likely look like this:
NL: Javy Lopez (catcher), Todd Helton (first base), Marcus Giles (second base), Scott Rolen (third base), Edgar Renteria (shortstop), Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Gary Sheffield (outfield).
AL: Edgar Martinez (DH), Jorge Posada (catcher), Carlos Delgado (first base), Alfonso Soriano (second base), Troy Glaus (third base), Alex Rodriguez (shortstop), Ichiro Suzuki, Hideki Matsui and Manny Ramirez (outfield).
Sosa's name just kind of bursts out of the page like the grand finale at a Fourth of July fireworks display, doesn't it?
The Chicago Cubs slugger gets our first award for "How did this guy get in?"
The answer to the question is simple, despite corkgate 2003, Sosa is still one of the most popular players on the diamond today.
But this is not a high school homecoming election, this is supposed to be an All-Star game.
Which means, the top players should be making their way onto the field; not a guy who has 11 home runs and 37 RBIs, as of last Wednesday.
Sosa's possible inclusion in the starting lineup via fan voting leads us to our first possible snub the Braves Andruw Jones.
Sure the guy can't spell Andrew, but he is an All-Star.
Jones is having another excellent season, with plenty of statistical reinforcement behind his effort (.286 batting average, 21 home runs and 58 RBIs, as of last Wednesday). Don't forget, before Jim Edmonds came to the Cardinals, Jones was a synch for the Gold Glove in center nearly every year.
But with Sosa in, Jones is most likely out.
Albert Pujols, who should be in the starting lineup instead of Slamming Sammy, will be snagging one reserve spot, and the rest of the outfield will most likely be made up of the Pirates' Brian Giles, the Diamondbacks' Luis Gonzalez, the Brewers' Geoff Jenkins and either the Padres' Rondell White or the Reds' Austin Kearns.
Kearns or White will be on the squad thanks to the Little League rule of every team must have a player on the squad, and these are the best Cincinnati and San Diego have to offer.
So sadly, Jones will most likely be getting the "You got snubbed" award in 2003.
Matsui's spot from the fans is even more disturbing than Sosa's.
At least with Sosa, the fans had the last five years to gawk at his remarkable stats, Matsui just got here, and he isn't exactly tearing it up.
That is unless, nine home runs with a .302 average is considered a great feet for a supposed power hitter nicknamed "Godzilla" in this, the juiced ball era of baseball.
This leads Matusi to be the front runner of the "How did this guy get in?" award for the AL.
Which simply leaves one last award to hand out the great "Who is that guy?" award.
Normally reserved just to the Brewers, this year Tampa Devil Ray outfielder Rocco Baldelli runs away with this honor.
Seriously, has anyone ever heard of this guy, except the hardest of hardcore baseball nuts?
Of course, this is just a few snips of the arguments that will rage over the days leading up to the game, and all of the arguments may or may not come to pass.
But it sure is fun.