Derek Jeter’s Absence Sullies All-Star Game; Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels Crave Home Field for Phillies

Posted by Frank Klose

Jeter
Courtesy mopupduty.com

Well, today's the day: the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.   Today is the day where all of baseball's best come together to showcase their talents in a fierce, battle-of-the-best fight.  Right?

Uh, not anymore.

This year, a total of 16 players that were named all-stars will not play.  Some, for good reason.  Alex Rodriguez and Jose Reyes are on the disabled list.   Derek Jeter?  Mentally drained.  Say what?

 With rosters of 34 for each league, there were 68 all-stars named.   Between injuries and people bowing out, there are another 16 that had to be added.   With 84 all stars of the 750 players in the major leagues, 11.2% were named all-stars this year.  Doesn't seem so elite.

One reason there were so many is a new format for naming replacements.  In the past, the manager had the ability to pick.  So, in 2009 when Carlos Beltran ended up injured, Charlie Manuel could take Jayson Werth.

This year, Bruce Bochy had to take the next person up on the player vote.  The results were almost comical.   Consider the case of Jon Lester.

Lester was not an original all-star selection.  Feliz Hernandez was named to the team, but since he pitched Sunday was ruled ineligible for the the game.   The next person on the player ballot was Jon Lester.  Lester was subsequently named to the all-star team.

Lester is on the disabled list, so, Lester was replaced.  In the past, the manager would have named a player, who certainly would not have been on the disabled list.

Back to Jeter.  Jeter's slot on the team was replaced because he was emotionally drained from the pursuit of 3,000 hits, and preferred to take a break.

The fans voted Jeter to be the starter and just a few mere days after celebrating his 3,000th hit, Jeter will not attend the celebration.  This is an insult to the fans who voted him in, who would have been happy with a token appearance from Jeter.  He will not do this.

In 2009 in the on-deck series in Philadelphia, Rays manager Joe Maddon wanted to give Philadelphia fans a chance to see the recently-departed Pat Burrell, but also wanted to give him a rest.   Maddon introduced a lineup that had Pat Burrell leading off and playing right field.

Burrell batted, got his chance to see the Philadelphia fans, and Ben Zobrist trotted out to right field after the first inning.   Being in the opposing league's park, Jeter could have batted first, taken short, and then been replaced by Asdrubal Cabrera before he had to take the field. 

Instead, Jeter will not allow baseball fans to celebrate his accomplishment, and spend the week somewhere tropical.  That's a shame.

´╗┐The Phillies recognize this matters

Cliff lee roy halladay
Courtesy daylife.com

For Phillies Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, this game is important.  They want to battle all the way to the World Series, and want home field advantage.

MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo checked in with the Phillies yesterday about the game, and "This Game Counts" is more than a silly catch phrase to make up for the embarrassment of a tie game.  Cliff Lee was vocal:

"I do want to pitch, to try and help this team win, help the National League get home-field advantage in the World Series.  That's a big difference. It's important and means something. I want to try and help the team win."

Cole Hamels, ineligible to pitch because he started Sunday's finale against Atlanta, offered similar sentiments in the piece:

"Home-field advantage is everything in the postseason.  Just seeing it, you don't want to go to the opposing team's field because it really does almost come down to your last at-bat. Being able to have your crowd into it can be intimidating. Having a game to affect that [here] really does make it difficult."

Jeter and others are missing the chance to capture home field advantage.  For players on playoff-teams this should have utmost importance.

Speaking of Sunday starters not being eligible.  How about moving the game to Wednesday so there is no worry about this?