Reds Round Table: The All-Star Game and Other Baseball Info

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Well, if you saw my tweet earlier today, you are well aware of a mishap with my laptop…as in I took the liberty of spilling coffee on it this morning. Well, 7 hours later, and with the exception of a number of sticky keys, things are almost back to normal.

Now, we’re at Part II of our Reds Round Table. Today, we’ll cover a couple of issues surrounding the All-Star Game and a coupleof insights about baseball in general.

The panel is almost the same as yesterday. Once again, we have BK and JinAZ from Red Reporter, Ronnie Ginter from Big Red Redemption, Tina Cisneros from Rockin’ Redlegs, and joining us today is Chad Dotson of Redleg Nation. We also have the BRM staff of Alex Apple, Justin Hamilton, Kevin Geary, John Heitz, and Kerry Moss on board as well.

Well, let’s get down to business…

No question that year after year we see at least one ASG starter voted in due to his popularity with the fans. And this year more than ever, we see many players pulling themselves out of the midsummer classic due to various reasons, ala the NFL Pro Bowl. Now, players that have no business playing are now participating. Is the ASG now migrating into a joke like the Pro Bowl? I picked this as the first topic only because of what has transpired more for this season, and to an extent, in seasons past.

Well, I received two responses that were extremely interesting. First up today, Tina from Rockin’ Redlegs:

As Rockin’ Redlegs’ avid readers may know, a friend of mine recently moved to Cincinnati from Pittsburgh and I’m trying hard to turn her into a Reds fan. She’s not really a baseball fan at all, but when All-Star voting was winding down and I was forcing her to vote Reds all day long, she made an excellent point. “Why do the fans get to choose who goes to the All-Star game? Shouldn’t the best players go instead of whoever gets the most votes?” I was shocked at her response, but she was right. I never really gave it much thought until she said that. Do I believe that Ryan Braun is a better Left Fielder than Jonny Gomes? You bet I do, but you won’t catch me voting for Ryan Braun during All-Star voting. (Not that he’ll be playing anyway.)

The All-Star Game, in recent years, has become less about who is actually good enough to be considered an All-Star and more about which team in each league is the most strongly represented. While I think there is a place for this kind of competition, I don’t think it should be at the All-Star Game. The word “All-Star” used to mean something, but now it just means that some teenager stayed up all night drinking Mountain Dew and creating new email addresses to vote for his favorite player a million times.

I was thrilled when I learned that Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips would represent our Redlegs in the ASG, even though they weren’t starting. I was happy for them because they were chosen by their peers, MLB players, which to me means more than being voted in by the fans. I’m not saying that the fans shouldn’t have a hand in selecting who goes to the All-Star Game, but I do think that there should be a new system for deciding who gets the once-coveted title of “All-Star.” If things don’t change soon, the ASG will lose all credibility and being called an “All-Star” will be arbitrary – if this hasn’t already happened.

But here is a bit of a counter to Tina’s response. BRM’s Kevin Geary opines his thoughts about the ASG vote:

I’ve stated on BRM my feelings for organizations organizing events to vote for just the players from their team—whether it be the Reds or Brewers or Yankees or whomever. When this happens, guys like Andrew McCutchen (this year) and Joey Votto (last year) don’t even get voted into the All Star Game even though they’re the most deserving candidates. You should vote for the BEST player, not “your guy.” And for the record, that #VoteRedLunch stuff…GET RID OF IT!!! And then we get to the contract thing where players that receive bonuses for being NAMED to the ASG only want their bonus—they have no care to play in the game. Get rid of these B.S. bonuses.

Wow. Don’t hold back, Kev. Tel us how you really feel.

Personally, I vote for the most deserving player. If it is close, I go the way of my Reds…any day of the week! And as far as the organization of voting parties, all teams do it. Since that is the case, I have no issue with it.

On to the next topic.

This one involves how the ASG is used as a vehicle to determine home field advantage for the World Series. As you might think, the panel simply is not in favor of this method. I also questioned if there was a better alternative. BK of Red Reporter chimes in here…

I agree that the ASG is a terrible way to determine home field for the WS, but I’m not sure what the most fair way to determine it would be. Maybe if they used the winner of the previous year’s WS? Kind of the “make it, take it” theory that a lot of us knew growing up on the playground? I think it’d work, it’d be clear cut, and would help to reinstate that AL vs. NL fire of decades past. Can you imagine (hypothetically) rooting on the Phillies or Braves in the World Series, knowing that it could possibly help your team if they win? Instead of trying to use it to force a rooting interest in an event nobody cares about, give me an incentive to support my league in an event I’m already watching. But that’s just me.

That’s an idea I have never heard, and I kinda like it, too. But I have to retrace here. I said all were in agreement about the ASG and the World Series home field. BRM’s Kerry Moss disagrees with all of us.

I don’t think there is any “right” way to determine home-field advantage in the World Series. I personally like the added “meaning” that it gives to the All Star game. I know it’s a ridiculous and perhaps “unfair” way to determine such an important thing, but as a fan. I like it.

My two cents here: If the two teams played interleague games that season, which ever team won that series. If not, best regular season record.

Topic #3 concerns what I touched on: interleague. It was simple for the panel. Are you for it or against it? Not surprisingly (again) most were not in favor of it. In fact, Red Reporter’s JinAZ put a nice spin on why he is a fan of it…and a take about the proposed addition of playoff teams (which he added on his own but felt like it should be included).

I may be in the minority among blogger-types, but I’ve always enjoyed interleague. I like seeing new teams and players from the other league. And I enjoy playing the Indians every year. And it’s fun to see teams have to adjust to a new set of rules for a handful of games, be it AL teams having to bench Travis Hafner and David Ortiz, or NL teams looking at their bench of defensive replacements and trying to find a DH in there.

Also, I love the wild card, and support adding a second one to the playoffs–especially if it screws up the wild card team’s pitching rotation for the Division Series. And I think realignment is always fun to think about, although I didn’t like the most recent proposal. But the DH sucks (see? I have some traditionalism in me!).

And you know there’s the view the “”blogger-types” have. Just like BRM’s John Heitz. This is from a post John did just last month.

… I know it exists for purely monetary reasons and as a means to expose fans to the American League but it really does change the competitive balance of the Wild Card race. I like symmetry and I am obsessive about it. I am sure the Reds ownership is thrilled to have the Red Sox, Blue Jays and Rays in town…

The Pirates and the Reds suffer the most from this schedule while St. Louis, San Fransisco and Arizona all have a considerably easier path to the wild card because of the Inter-League imbalance.

Money the main reason? Pshaw!

And now a topic that even though it has been quiet as of late, I felt the need to bring it to the masses again. Much has been made about the situation involving the Los Angeles Dodgers. So, I’m thinking if we see the same end that we witnessed lst season involving the Texas Rangers (ie: bidding for a team tied up in bankruptcy), we may once again see Mark Cuban try to become the owner of an MLB team. So gang, how do you feel about Cuban being an owner?

Ronnie Ginter of Big Red Redemption offers up how he feels about Cuban in baseball.

Cuban may be one of the most outlandish people on the face of this earth but he does a phenomenal job putting a great product on the field/court. He’s proven that he knows what it takes to be a competitor in professional sports even though he may seem larger than life. So when it comes to him owning the Dodgers I say “Why the hell not!?” Frank McCourt had absolutely no business owning one of the most storied franchises in professional sports and now MLB has to pay for it. Mark has the money, he loves his fans, and he has a passion and pride that I think without a doubt will help this sport. Think about it who wouldn’t want to see an owner in the middle of the diamond spraying his players with Champaign or giving a player a shaving cream pie to the face?

I have to admit something here. When I developed this particular topic, I knew Alex Apple of BRM would be a good person to ask. He attends TCU and is close to how Cuban affects an area. This is something to keep in mind when you read his POV.

Mark Cuban would be a terrific owner for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He would be good for baseball. Mark Cuban has poured his heart and soul into the Dallas Mavericks. He has put all his revenue back into the team, and he was rewarded with a title. Mark Cuban would put a lot of money into the Dodgers and one of baseball’s most storied franchises would be exciting again. I think he needs to be let into baseball because he has proven that he is a terrific owner.

The Dodgers is at least the fourth team that I have heard linked to Cuban. Pittsburgh, the Chicago Cubs, the Texas Rangers (just last year. He was bidding on them!), and now, the Dodgers. With Cuban’s personality in LA, itspractically a win-win situation in my book.

Today’s final topic sounds easy, but it really wasn’t. I asked each panelist to put on the GM hat. You can make a deal for any player with NO restrictions. Who ya got?

Now, some did define only one player. Others submitted a list or a set of circumstances in who they would select.. To me, themost telling answer came from Chad Dotson of Redleg Nation.

If I’m the GM of the Reds, I go for Roy Halladay, and it isn’t even close. We haven’t seen many pitchers who can do the things he has been doing, and he would immediately push the Reds into the upper echelon.

If I’m the GM of just a random team, I’d think of someone like Buster Posey (assuming his injury isn’t going to limit him forever). Also,
let’s not forget Joey Votto, who is young and just mashes the ball as consistently as anyone around.

Halladay was a popular choice. No surprise there at all. But Justin Hamilton of BRM has another pitcher in mind.

I’m a believer in building with youth and starting a team with great pitching so I am going to deal for the Tigers’ Justin Verlander. He of the two no hitters is only 28 and has progressed to the point of superstardom especially with his spectacular start to 2011. There is everything you’d like in a long term ace pitcher: durability (averaged over 32 starts and 163+ IP per season in the prior 5 seasons), strikeout stuff (1st and 4th in the AL in Ks in 2009 and 2010 respectively), winning ability (95-56 career W-L), and age. It might not be a flashy pick but it’d definitely be one that’d pay dividends to a team.

Are you floored by that? If you are, then read it again and I believe your view may be altered a little…

Part II is now in the books and tomorrow we will get down to discussing the Reds. I may hear an earful from some of these folks…or they may hear from each other after reading the responses.

And do not forget that for the weekend, I will have a special best of where I provide other opinions from all three parts.