MLB All-Star Game: Why Matt Cain Starting over R.A. Dickey Is a Good Thing

Paul Francis SullivanChief Writer IJuly 10, 2012

MLB All-Star Game: Why Matt Cain Starting over R.A. Dickey Is a Good Thing

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    Tony LaRussa announced that Giants ace Matt Cain and not Mets star R.A. Dickey will be starting the 2012 All-Star Game for the National League. It is a controversial decision both statistically and emotionally and in terms of the entertainment quality of the game.

    R.A. Dickey leads the league in wins and has an eye popping 12-1 record. He has the most complete games and shutouts and the lowest WHIP in the National League.

    His ERA is superior to Cain. His batting average against is lower than Cain's. He has struck out more batters than Cain. He has thrown just 1/3 of an inning fewer than Cain. He has Cain beat in virtually every category.

    And Dickey is a likable guy and a great story. Having him start the All-Star Game would be the feel good topper for his great journey.

    As for making the game interesting, the idea of watching American League sluggers taking aim at a knuckleball is just good TV.

    But picking Matt Cain does make sense in several ways. Some are baseball reasons. Others might be slightly off the wall.

Matt Cain Gets an Overdue Moment in the Spotlight

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    Matt Cain has been a victim of bad support and being around bigger personalities that has prevented him from being mentioned among the elite pitchers in the game.

    His teammates Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson have grabbed more headlines, won more awards and are better known in the media than the low key Cain.

    But year in and year old, Cain has put up terrific numbers despite poor run support. He has already been a Cy Young contender, All-Star and World Series hero. He has the only perfect game in Giants history.  But he was always the number two man behind Lincecum.

    Now with Lincecum slumping, Cain has shown that he can handle the pressure of being a No. 1 pitcher. Take his 9-3 record, 2.62 ERA and 134 ERA+ and he can pitch with anyone.

    Throw in his perfect game and he has shown that he is one of the elites in the game. It might be time to celebrate him.

A Pitcher Should Be an All-Star for More Than a Few Months to Start

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    When an unestablished star gets the starting pitcher spot in the Midsummer Classic, it can lead to some retroactive embarrassing picks.

    A list featured on Hardball Talk on NBC Sports shows pointed out some of the not exactly superstar pitchers who started the All-Star Game.

    Jack Armstrong, Brad Penny, Terry Mulholland and Esteban Loiza all started the All-Star Game. They all looked like solid selections when that happened.

    Meanwhile pitchers like Ron Guidry, CC Sabathia and Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins never got to start an All-Star Game.

    Maybe it is best to have a more established pitcher take the hill. This is Dickey's first All-Star worthy campaign.

Dickey's Snub Gives Mets Fans More Anti-Giants Bitterness

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    Met fans are already bitter about the fact that Pablo Sandoval is getting the start over the more deserving David Wright.

    Now they have to swallow another black and orange pill that Cain got the nod over Dickey. Anything that can help create new rivalries, bitterness and chips on a fanbase's collective shoulder is good for baseball.

    With the Phillies dismantling, this could give Mets fans a whole new team to hate for a while.

Tony LaRussa Gives Us One Final "Annoying Know It All" Moment

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    Tony LaRussa, one of the great managers of all time, is coming out of retirement for one game to manage the All-Star Game. He earned the right after leading the Cardinals to the World Series title last year.

    Having his final game be winning Game 7 of the World Series seemed appropriate. Having him manage his actual last game by over thinking the pitching situation and making smug, across the grain decisions seems even more apt.

    LaRussa always had an air of superiority and acted like he was smarter than everyone else. Maybe it was the fact that he was a lawyer as well that made seem like a know it all.

    But in case anyone forgot that LaRussa needs to be the biggest brain in the room, he gave us a wonderful reminder with the Cain and Dickey decision.

Dickey's Inclusion in the Game Will Make for Good Television

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    If Dickey started, he would have pitched the first and second innings and that would be it. Now there is a reason to watch the game after the second. When will Dickey come in? When will the American League have to face a knuckleball after seeing lightning like fast balls?

    Will Buster Posey or Carlos Ruiz be able to catch the ball?

    Has any American Leaguer faced a knuckleball?

    It could make for some good suspense in tonight's game instead of having it revealed at the beginning. Besides, there would not be anyone stirring watching the game thinking "When is Cain coming in?"

    But Dickey? That's a different matter.