If you think that the Oakland A’s have no business affecting the World Series this year, you’re not alone.
But thanks to a poorly-conceived rule requiring each team to field an All-Star representative, players with All-Star resumes like Carlos Pena and George Sherrill may be forced to sit home and watch the Midsummer Classic, while Oakland’s Andrew Bailey goes instead.
The team inclusion rule gives baseball’s All-Star game a Little League feel, a stark contrast to the sport’s steroid and immigration scandals. But why stop at giving each team an All-Star? Why not go full-on soccer mom and hand out orange slices and juice boxes after the game?
Exhibition games typically aren’t worth getting worked up about, because they don’t affect anything of importance. Slam dunk contests, home run derbies, NHL hockey games...in the grand scheme of things, these events just don’t matter.
But in baseball, the All-Star Game determines home-field advantage in the World Series, one of the worst ideas in the history of a sport plagued by bad ideas.
The only positive resulting from this All-Star force-feed is that it prevents the American League team from being made up entirely of players from the AL East: Yankees, Red Sox, and young Tampa Bay Rays destined to become future Yankees and Red Sox.
But if you’re Joe Maddon, and your team is fighting to make it back to the World Series, do you want home field advantage being decided by a player you were forced to put on an exhibition team? With Andrew Bailey, he may not have a choice.
Bailey's been impressive with the A’s this year, but you wouldn’t expect to find an All-Star in Oakland this season any more than you’d expect to find true romance in Detroit. And while he’s Oakland’s best reliever, Bailey’s save total of nine didn’t quite make him a unanimous All-Star selection.
No, to achieve All-Star status, Bailey had to fend off the likes of Dallas Braden, Adam Kennedy, and Kurt Suzuki. For Maddon, picking just one Athletic from this group must have felt like choosing between the Stones and the Beatles.
Thanks to Bud Selig and MLB's attempt to draw in more fans, we get to witness the great Andrew Bailey pitching to Freddy Sanchez in the sixth inning of a 7-4 game. It promises to be scintillating, but the throng of A’s fans tuning in to see it isn’t likely to influence FOX’s ratings share.
If Selig and Co. really want to do the A’s and their fans a favor, they should keep their charity All-Star appointment and help the team finally get a new stadium built.
The Oakland Sports Examiner, new columns every Tuesday and Thursday.