All-Star season is officially in full bloom, and with rosters having been announced, and new substitutions seemingly every day, a baseball fan can scarcely avoid the ubiquitous discussions of which players are deserving and which ones have no business being anywhere near Kansas City next week.
Especially since this time, it counts.
In 2003, in order to the provide additional incentive for victory, it was agreed that the winner of the All-Star Game would be awarded home-field advantage in the subsequent World Series. The idea was that this would stop managers from simply parading players out on the field; with nothing on the line, the only duty of a manager was to ensure that fans from every city would get to see their representative get some playing time.
Since then, managers have been making a more concerted effort to bring the title home for their respective league. Or have they?
Baseball is never about one single player winning the game for his team. Any manager will tell you that games are rather won by a collaboration of all 25 guys. You need the big boppers, the base stealers, the benchwarmer who can lay down that perfect bunt, the long relievers, the lefty one-out guys and the closers.
The All-Star Game should be no different, but it's those smaller pieces that get often overlooked. Rosters get stocked with big jumbotron-smashing bats and pitchers who can light up radar guns, but it's the other, vital smaller pieces that can really win you a close game in the later innings.
One of the most prominent omissions from All-Star Game rosters are setup men. The pitchers whose job it is to maintain a lead in the eighth inning and hand the ball to the closer. Often able to pitch comparably well to the closer, the setup man's job can be a lot more matchup-based, and therefore arguably tougher. They have to be versatile, able to get the strikeout when called on with the bases loaded and nobody out or able to shut down that dangerous pinch-hitter that the opposing team has been saving for a big spot.
All-Star managers perennially overlook these guys, and instead load their rosters up with closers.
Here are five setup men who were snubbed this year, all deserving of a spot to represent their team.