Sunday, July 07, 2013
Yes, I know. Most of you are saying who’s Yasiel Puig? And how do you even pronounce his name? (It’s “Pweeg”) You will be among the majority of people not watching the All-Star Game, despite it’s claim that “that this time it means something.”
So who is Yasiel Puig? He’s a young Cuban defector who joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in early June and turned in one the greatest single months any player has done over the last 140 years. That’s all. Record-breaking number of hits, monster home runs, spectacular catches, unbelievable throws, lightening speed. He has almost single-handedly turned the Dodgers’ fortunes around. The only thing he hasn’t done is sung the national anthem.
But many managers, and coaches, and executives don’t feel he should be in the All-Star Game because he’s only been on the scene for a month of the three-month season. His inclusion would tarnish the “integrity” of what it means to be an All-Star.
Here’s the point they’re all missing:
THIS IS JUST A FRIGGIN’ TELEVISION SHOW.
Nothing more. It's a spectacle. The Ice Capades with cleats. Who does the audience want to see? That's the ONLY question. Period. End of discussion. Statistics are meaningless. Time-of-service is meaningless.
The game is meaningless!
My partner and I wrote a pilot for Fox once and we got the following note: "Add a hot babe. Make her a series regular." I asked: “To do what?” And they said, “We don’t care.” You gotta applaud their honesty. They knew why people watched Fox. Had we said, "But a hot babe will just destroy the integrity of our concept" they'd have laughed at us.
For many baseball fans, Yasiel Puig is the ONLY reason they’d want to watch the All-Star Game. You think they’re tuning in to hear Tim McCarver prattle on incessantly about nothing? Or to see the big rivalry between the American and National League? Now that there’s so much interleague play the leagues have been blurred to the point where there no longer is any real novelty of seeing the AL and NL compete.
In a desperate attempt to fool the fans into thinking the game actually means something (after it ended one year in a tie when they embarrassingly ran out of players), the winning league gets home field advantage in the World Series. No one gives a shit. Not even the players. Do you think the buried-in-last-place Houston Astros care if the American League gets home field advantage? Half of the team doesn’t even know they’re now in the American League.
Fans get to vote for the players, but they get to stuff the ballot boxes. Karl Rove would like to replace the Electoral College with this system. You can vote up to 35 times on line or as many actual ballots as you want. As a result, guys with .200 averages have made All-Star squads. But again, so what? The fans vote for the players they want to see. Maybe one out of 100,000 checks the Sabermetrics before making his selections.
So who are we kidding with the integrity of the Mid-Summer Classic?
It’s a fun television show. For hardcore baseball fans like me I wouldn’t miss it for the world. But I don’t give a rat’s ass who wins. I want a 9-8 game. I want the home run derby to be part of the game itself. I want a manager to be ejected for arguing. I want to see incompetent umpire Angel Hernandez call a ball foul that sails over the centerfield wall.
Yasiel Puig will be selected to the All-Star squad. How come? Because the fans get to vote one final reserve and he’s on the ballot. He’s up against Ian Desmond, Freddie Freeman, Adrian Gonzalez and Hunter Pence. Who do you think Fox would prefer – Yasiel Puig or Ian Desmond?
Now, in the American League, these are the five household names vying for the last spot: Steve Delabar, David Robertson, Koji Uehara, Tanner Scheppers, and Joaquin Benoit. Do you know who any of these potential All-Stars are? (I do and vote for Steve Delebar.)
Oh, and by the way, this is not the first time Major League Baseball has wrestled with this dilemma over whether a rookie who broke in mid-season should qualify for the All-Star squad. It happened JUST LAST YEAR. And Bryce Harper did make the team. So what are we arguing about?
JUST ADD THE HOT BABE.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM