MLB All-Star Game: Does No Mariano Rivera Mean Illegitimacy or Exposition?

Charles BennettSenior Analyst IJuly 8, 2011

Mariano Rivera is sitting out this year's All-Star Game
Mariano Rivera is sitting out this year's All-Star GameAl Bello/Getty Images

Once again, longtime Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is not feeling 100 percent at the All-Star break and has therefore decided to sit it out.

This leaves me wondering about the repercussions of the absence of the man who is just 22 saves away from becoming the all-time saves leader. In fact, I might go as far as to say that the absence of Rivera could partially delegitimize the results of a game that means so much (more than it should). 

After all, the domino effect from Rivera not being in the game last year led to Phil Hughes and Matt Thornton being placed in and giving up the runs that lost the AL both the game and home-field advantage in the World Series. 

Considering that Mo's playing time this year will be given to Brandon League or Jordan Walden—both far inferior to Rivera—Mo's absence this year clearly adversely affects the American League.

But maybe it's fair comeuppance for the AL to lose Rivera.

Perhaps Rivera's absence has flipped over the AL cockroach (or perhaps bedbug, in this case) to expose the soft underbelly that is the dearth of good AL relief. 

The NL has THREE solid All-Star relievers who have a ERAs under 3.00 and 25 or more saves—Joel Hanrahan, Brian Wilson, and Heath Bell. Hanrahan has a sub-1.00 WHIP, and the Beard has six wins in relief. 

The NL roster also includes two middlemen with sub-1.00 WHIPs—Jonny Venters and Tyler Clippard. 

Heck, Craig Kimbrel has 25 saves and isn't even on the squad!  

The only person in their league from the AL is Rivera...League isn't even in their... er... league.     

Let me finish this article by commenting about who should have replaced Rivera. 

I know Jordan Walden is a rookie and represents one of my hometown teams, but I'd have gone with Sergio Santos of the White Sox because he has a better K/9 rate. 

In fact, perhaps the AL should have both Walden AND Santos. (Yes, I am saying eliminate MORE AL starters even though there are some odious omissions as is.) 


Because All-Star managers are starting to realize that, since pitchers only pitch one or two innings in the game anyway, having a pitcher who is accustomed to going 1-2-3 for one inning is quite useful.  It also avoids the debate about how much rest to give starting pitchers.

In fact, why not have Walden, Santos, AND a middle reliever with a great WHIP—the NL did that with Clippard and Venters this year and Kuo last year—someone who has a low ERA and a high K/9, like Al Albuquerque. 

Yes, I know Albuquerque took a left turn to the DL recently, but there are others like him in the AL.

Bottom line: between not having Mariano Rivera, not choosing the AL pitching squad in the right way, and a general lack of relief talent in the AL, the AL bullpen is dangerously weak and may very well cost the league the game.