Why the rosters keep growing, and more All-Star game thoughts
The idea of an hour-long show to announce the All-Star rosters seemed excessive, until one remembered that 66 players were to be selected and, with injuries, 70 players were actually named to the team on Sunday afternoon.
That's a rate of more than one All-Star per minute without even accounting for commercials, studio analysis or interviews with the managers. It's also a guaranteed record, since last year there were 71 total All-Stars and this year there are still the two final spots to be voted by the fans, not to mention replacements for the starters who are scheduled to pitch the Sunday before the July 13 game.
It is again the Era of the Bloated All-Star Game.
But, of course, no matter how many players make the team, there still will be uproar over who doesn't make it, with Reds first baseman
So, yes, this game does count for home-field advantage in the World Series, with the American League trying to preserve its 13-game unbeaten streak with dominant power and the National League hoping to ride its dominant stable of starting pitchers when the two leagues meet nine days from now at Angels Stadium.
Until then, here are some thoughts on the selection process:
One can nitpick and debate the merits of the Tigers'
It's a strange world when the NL has eight starting pitchers on its roster, and
The image of the commissioner ending the 2002 All-Star game as a 7-7 tie after 11 innings is indelible, and that moment has its fingerprints all over this year's rosters. To safeguard against another tie or long extra-innings game, such as the 15-inning affair in 2008, the rosters have expanded, and there is the new dispensation of a one-time re-entry rule for a position player.
That alone ought to be enough protection against running out of players late in the game, so there's no need to pick a versatile reserve just for the sake of having one. In other words, there's no reason Omar Infante -- he of the .311 average, nine walks, one home run and 56 games of utility play -- should be an All-Star. He's not even an everyday starter on his own team.
The set-up man has gained prominence in baseball, and this year that was reflected on the All-Star rosters. Neither league had a non-closing reliever on its 2009 roster, but three such players -- the White Sox's
The debate raged all week -- including
New York and Boston, the top two clubs in the AL East, pace the field with six selections each, followed by Atlanta, the NL East leader, which has five All-Stars and is tied with the Cardinals for most in the NL. The Braves, Red Sox and Yankees all have a candidate on the 34th Man ballot, too.
The Yankees have six players (
Though no Red Sox position player will be starting for the first time since 2003, Boston will be represented in droves with
Add the three Blue Jays, two Rays and one Oriole, and the East has 18 All-Stars, just more than half of the 35 AL players so honored.
The NL is more hamstrung by the rule mandating a representative from each team, given that it has two more teams than the AL, and the Padres were hurt the most by this rule. Despite a 3½-game lead in the West, San Diego has just one All-Star,
The NL East has 11 All-Stars, edged slightly by the six-team NL Central, which has 13. Five of the 14 AL teams (A's, Angels, Orioles, Royals and White Sox) have only representative, while the same is true of five of the 16 NL teams (Astros, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Nationals and Padres).