Last I checked, the MLB All-Star Game now counts—and can no longer be called an exhibition.
With home-field advantage in the World Series on the line, there is simply too much at stake for every player selected to the game to play. The best players should play the majority of the game, and that's that—no ifs, ands or buts.
Obviously, that's not how it goes—nearly everyone will see some action, whether they deserve to or not.
Some of those who are undeserving will start the game, as chosen by the fans (yet another issue many, myself included, have with the entire process), but just because these players won a popularity contest doesn't mean that they are worthy of playing in the game.
Let's take a look at a handful of All-Stars who shouldn't leave their benches after the teams are introduced—but will.
Voted the starting catcher for the American League, Mike Napoli is going to play in the 2012 All-Star Game.
But not only is Napoli undeserving of appearing in the game, he simply doesn't belong on an All-Star roster at all. While that's an argument for another day, it's one I'm sure fans of the Red Sox and All-Star snub Jarrod Saltalamacchia would gladly have with you.
Napoli has been atrocious at the plate in 2012, posting a .228/.340/.419 batting line with 12 home runs and 30 RBI.
Of the catchers in the American League who have at least 150 plate appearances on the season, Napoli's .228 average ranks seventh—nearly 100 points behind the Twins' Joe Mauer, who is one of two players backing up Napoli.
Mauer deserves to start the game, and Baltimore's Matt Wieters, one of the best defensive catchers in the game, should finish things up.
Every team needs to be represented, and that's fine—but Huston Street shouldn't have been the Padres' representative—that honor should have gone to third baseman Chase Headley.
While Street is one of the more experienced closers on the National League roster, he simply doesn't deserve to get into the game.
His numbers are impressive—a 1.13 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and a 12.00 K/9 ratio—but when you consider that he's throwing eight innings a month on average, they become markedly less impressive.
That's right. Since the start of the season, Street has thrown a total of 24 innings...not nearly enough to either warrant consideration for the team or to be used Tuesday night.
I can appreciate the fact that Chipper Jones is retiring after the season, putting an end to what is likely a Hall of Fame career.
But playing Jones in an All-Star game that counts for something makes no sense, unless the ultimate goal isn't to win the game, but to pay tribute to one of the game's greats.
Chipper has battled injury this season, playing in only 49 games.
While his stats are still quite solid (a .318/.396/.480 batting line with six home runs and 33 RBI), he doesn't deserve to get into the game before Mets third baseman David Wright or Cardinals third baseman David Freese based on the first half of this season alone.
Reds right fielder Jay Bruce is a nice, solid player who has the potential to take the ball out of the park anytime he steps to the plate.
But that doesn't mean he should be playing in the All-Star game.
Just going off of the outfielders on the National League roster who are healthy enough to participate in the game, Bruce would come in dead last as far as who should play before he does.
Aside from starters Melky Cabrera and Carlos Beltran (it remains unclear who will be starting in the injured Matt Kemp's place), Bruce would fall behind Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Braun, Michael Bourn, Carlos Gonzalez and Matt Holliday as far as their stats on the season go.
You could argue that Bruce deserves to see action before Washington's 19-year-old phenom Bryce Harper, but it would be a faulty argument.
Which player does baseball want to showcase more—the non-descript outfielder who hits .260 with 25 home runs and 90 RBI on the season, or the 19-year-old rookie that we have heard about for years, one who will be a mainstay in the All-Star game for the next 15 years?
Adam Dunn's resurgence in 2012 has been a fantastic thing to watch.
His power numbers are tremendous, sitting with 25 home runs (third in all of baseball) and 61 RBI (fifth in all of baseball) entering the All-Star break. Dunn is also getting on base at a phenomenal clip, walking 68 times, more than anyone else in the game.
But he has also struck out a ridiculous 138 times, is hitting a paltry .208 and is truly an all-or-nothing kind of player—either he hits the ball a mile, or he strikes out.
There isn't much of an in-between with Dunn, and that should keep him on the bench during this game.