It’s easy to pick an All-Star team. Anybody can do it. Who wouldn’t name Derek Jeter, the Yankee Doodle Dandy himself? Who wouldn’t want to see Yasiel Puig and Giancarlo Stanton take target practice at Target Field on Tuesday night?
Who isn’t head over heels in puppy love with Mike Trout?
But see, here’s the thing: This time of year, just behind the optimism of Opening Day and just ahead of the Kibbles ‘n Bits of the dog days, so many others need love—or at least a pat on the head—too. You just wouldn’t know it, because they’re buried under a mountain of strikeouts, an avalanche of outs or a tsunami of antisocial behavior.
Which is where my annual Anti-All-Star team comes in. Think of it as a soup kitchen for those waging daily war with the Mendoza Line, or a warm bed and a solid can of food for the strays. Criteria? My choice, and I’m a sucker for outlandish conduct, sitcom-like underachievement and good, old-fashioned lunacy.
You won’t see these most of these guys anywhere near the Land of 10,000 Lakes next week (though, the way some of them are going, you might see one of them on one of those frozen lakes in an ice hut in January, no doubt still without a nibble).
But that doesn’t mean we can’t close our eyes and picture them next week beside the Mary Tyler Moore statue, in mid-cap toss, their world lit up by the smiles of being named to my annual Anti-All-Star team, the 2014 edition.