I like Omar Infante .
He’s never been confused with a superstar, but the 28-year old jack of all trades has carved out a nice niche for himself as a solid utility player with the Atlanta Braves.
Infante was a starting middle infielder for the better part of two seasons with the Detroit Tigers back in 2004-05.
In fact, Infante had a pretty fair campaign back in ’04, hitting .264 with 16 HR in the one and only season in which he recorded 500 AB.
But for the past several years, Infante has worn the tag of utility man, logging most of his appearances at 2B/SS, but also getting playing time almost everyplace else.
Infante has been the consummate plug-in, able to hold his own defensively wherever he is inserted while not killing his team with empty at-bats.
In other words, he’s been one of those mostly anonymous types who draws little attention but it very good at his job.
Now, suddenly and without any warning, Omar Infante has been thrust into baseball’s national spotlight. Infante somehow ended up with a spot on the 2010 National League All-Star team.
While I’m sure this is an incredible thrill for Infante, and I’m happy for his good fortune, he’s now the punchline in what might well be the biggest joke of a snub in All-Star history.
That’s because, for all intents and purposes, Infante was given the roster spot that should have been earmarked for Joey Votto .
The omission of Votto from the All-Star team goes beyond residence in the snub category. It’s downright mind-boggling.
Votto is having a monster campaign, and is an obvious contender for first-half MVP recognition as he’s led the surprising Reds to the top spot in the NL Central Division.
Take a quick look at the numbers of both Infante and Votto and decide for yourself which player is more deserving of playing in this year’s Mid-Summer Classic (and I use that term very loosely).
Infante is hitting .305, with one HR and 22 RBI while scoring 23 runs for the Braves. Votto, meanwhile, is at .316, scoring 56 runs, knocking out 21 bombs and driving home 59 runners.
That is, to put it as mildly as possible, a total blowout in favor of Votto.
Yet Votto now has to hope the fans vote him in as what amounts to the NL wild card, as he apparently wasn’t good enough for Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel to name as an alternate.
When I first found out that Infante had made the All-Star team, I honestly thought someone had screwed up and that this was some sort of weird typo.
When I learned shortly thereafter that Votto had been left off the team, I was utterly dumbfounded.
I’ve seen some controversial omissions over the years, but this one is the topper of all time. What makes it even more insane is the fact that a utility infielder evidently got his spot.
I was still trying in vain to figure this whole thing out when I discovered the apparent reason Infante ended up an All-Star.
Evidently, MLB, in its latest stroke of genius, suggested that it might be a great idea to use one of the roster spots in each league to reward a utility player.
If this is actually the case, it’s very possibly the most moronic idea yet conceived by the dimwits that run this game.
It’s bad enough that Major League Baseball is still operating in the dark ages as far as implementing instant replay to correct calls is concerned.
It’s even more ridiculous that the All-Star game, an exhibition contest both by design and implementation, decides home-field advantage for the World Series.
Now, perhaps to complete the Brain-Fart Trifecta, someone in charge decided that those unsung utility guys deserved a little more recognition.
To Whom It May Concern in MLB’s Executive Offices: It’s called the All-Star game for a good reason. It’s supposed to be ALL STARS, or at least as close to that as is possible with the roster rules in their present form.
Utility players are not stars. In fact, they’re basically not good enough to start on their own teams. That’s why they’re called utility players.
And Omar Infante, while being a quality veteran and a valuable member of the Atlanta Braves, has absolutely no business whatsoever even being considered for a roster spot on any Major League All-Star team.
I love the game of baseball, and always will. But that hasn’t stopped me from having to shake my head in amazement at some of the just plain stupid decisions made by the game’s administrators on a far-too-frequent basis.
Sad to say, this latest example of their expertise in how to screw things up beyond all rational reason indicates that’s not about to change.
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