Note: Before I get started, I want to point out that by no means was this meant to take away from Carlos Pena or Josh Hamilton. They are both great players, although there was no reason for either to be headed for Tuesday's All-Star Game.
Reigning AL MVP Dustin Pedroia was headed to his second-straight All-Star game. In each, he was voted by the fans to be the starter to represent the American League.
This year, however, after getting voted in for the second time, Pedroia had to take himself out of the game.
His wife, Kelli, pregnant with the couple's first child, has gone into early labor. The child was expected to be delivered sometime in August, but was rushed to the hospital last Monday when she started going into labor.
Pedroia, who needed to spend his time with his wife in the hospital, removed himself from Tuesday's All-Star Game after having a discussion about the situation on Saturday night with Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
While Dustin made an honorable decision to be by the side of his wife through a rough period of time, one wouldn't be able to say Joe Maddon made a good decision for the sake of the American League
See, the American League has just lost its starting second baseman in Pedroia. Pedroia has had a very good season, batting .300 with four home runs, 40 RBI, 64 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.
Furthermore, Pedroia plays incredible defense, having made only five errors all year.
Having a dynamic player like Pedroia out is a crippling loss for the American League.
With Aaron Hill and Ben Zobrist, the only other players on the American League Roster, one would expect Maddon to bolster that area of the roster.
Wouldn't it be the sensible thing to do?
It's not like there were no worthy second basemen snubbed from the All-Star Game. Ian Kinsler comes to mind.
Kinsler—having a great year while batting .253 with 20 home runs, 55 RBI, 62 runs, with 18 steals—was barely edged out by Pedroia in preliminary voting, and just fell short of making the team in the Final Vote.
Was Kinsler added to the American League team, though?
Instead, Maddon added first baseman Carlos Pena.
That's right, Carlos Pena.
Pena joins a slew of first basemen on the American League team, leaving second base neglected with Pedroia's absence.
Along with starting first baseman Mark Teixeira, Pena joins Justin Morneau and Kevin Youkilis among reserve first basemen. Taking into account a possible double switch during the game, Brandon Inge could also be used as a first baseman if needed.
Way to take care of that depth issue, Joe.
No need to worry about first base now, with Teixeira, Pena, Morneau, and Youkilis.
What was the reasoning behind this pick?
Surely there has to be a good reason.
Not to say Pena doesn't deserve to be an All-Star—he's having a fine season—but what would possess Joe Maddon to think that the AL needs a fourth first baseman when only two second basemen reside on the roster?
Aside from leading the American League in home runs, is Pena having a season that makes it impossible to keep him out of the All-Star Game?
Aside from his 24 home runs and 58 walks, Pena has only hit .233 and has already struck out 110 times.
Even his great defense, which earned him a Gold Glove last season, has been down this year. After posting a .998 fielding percentage with just two errors last year, Pena has fielded .989 to this point of the year, already with eight errors committed.
There are a handful of AL second basemen getting the shaft from Maddon, who is instead looking out for his own guys. The following is a list of AL second basemen snubbed from the All-Star Game.
Brian Roberts, BAL: .271, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 17 SB, 62 R
Robinson Cano, NYY: .309, 13 HR, 36 RBI, 4 SB, 60 R
Alexei Ramirez (SS/2B), CWS: .278, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 12 SB, 43 R
Ian Kinsler, TEX: .253, 20 HR, 55 RBI, 18 SB, 62 R
The sad thing is, this isn't the only questionable replacement pick/snub to surround this roster so far.
Collecting the third-most amount of votes, Josh Hamilton finds himself as a starting outfielder for the American League. All fine and dandy, he had a terrific comeback story, but do any of the voters pay attention to stats anymore?
Did any of the million plus people voting for Hamilton care to notice that he's batting .248 with six homers and 24 RBI?
Who in their right mind would give someone with his OBP sitting at an even .300 an All-Star vote?
Are people lost in the year 2008?
It really makes me wonder.
Taking absolutely nothing away from Hamilton, a very talented player, did any of these voters really stop to think who was having the best season among outfielders?
Does anyone care that Jermaine Dye—hitting .300/.373/.572 with 20 home runs and 55 RBI—will be watching the game at home?
Or what about Adam Lind and his 19 homers?
Even Shin Shoo Choo from Cleveland, batting .296 with 13 homers and 13 steals would be a better All-Star selection. Finally, Jason Kubel from the Twins can make a case for the All-Star Game. Hitting .311 with 14 homers, selecting Kubel could easily be defended.
With these ridiculous All-Star selections seemingly getting worse by the year, it is downright silly for home field advantage for the World Series to be riding on this game.
Shouldn't Bud Selig realize this?
Whichever team proves itself as the best team in each league shouldn't have their amount of home games in the Fall Classic ride on which All-Star team was the least ridiculous back in the middle of July.
Now I pose a serious question to Bud Selig.
Which facet of the game do you prefer?
Do you like giving fans the freedom to vote on their All-Stars, or do you prefer the added stipulation that the winner gets home field for the World Series?
With the current state of the game, the Commissioner of our sport needs to seriously consider removing one of those features of the All-Star Game. Although I continue to watch each year, it's becoming progressively harder to appreciate the concept of the ASG with such ridiculous selections.
Seriously, Mr. Selig, it's time to make a decision. Either fan voting goes and the best statistical players get sent to represent their respective teams and league at the Midsummer Classic, or the home field advantage stipulation gets the axe.
It can't continue to go on this way.