MLB All Star Game 2011: Prince Fielder's Derby Selection of Rickie Weeks Analogy

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MLB All Star Game 2011: Prince Fielder's Derby Selection of Rickie Weeks Analogy
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Understandable as it was, you still have to question Prince Fielder (above) selecting teammate Ricky Weeks for the Home Run Derby, given how it can adversely affect Weeks and the team in the second half.

Envision your fondest co-worker.

Corner office guy, like yourself, who's wittier and better at his job than anyone gives him credit for, especially your boss. He's a year older, but a complete newbie on the job. His career has only recently crested and drawn attention up here, the highest-tier assignments of this absurdly upper echelon gig. You often catch yourself taking him under your wing, as unnatural an order it seems.

Now imagine you stumble on some luck.

Well, it's not as much fortune as just being inherently, helplessly great at what you do. Granted, there are incentives—money and fame (or infamy) and whatever compensation your mind conjures; it's all within reach—but your talent takes over.

It's almost like you're consumed by it, unable to do anything but excel.

So much so, the last last job being such a huge hit with your deepest-pocketed client, that you're getting promoted.

And they're doing it up big for you. Fogged glass office. Etching on the door (euphemism for job security). Increased visibility, meaning more clients will know your résumé—and who to make checks out to.

If you were picking a Home Run Derby team, would you pick teammates?

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Besides the raise, here's the best part: you get to hand pick one member for your soon-to-be founded team. Just one. Three-of-the four sort of picked themselves, given their otherworldly performances and aptitude for what you're doing.

 

But you've got flexibility.

Figure you'd better make the pick performance-centric, but, if you can finagle it, why not slide someone in with the personality to assuage tension? Make the grind and pressure and scrutiny more bearable, right?

Now, he's perfectly qualified overall, but not specifically for this business sector. You're sure he can learn—he's wowed you countless times with unexpected over-achievements—but if you had to code him based on his specialties, he just doesn't align with this particular job description. 

Still, it's a no-brainer: You pick your buddy.

Perfectly sensible, right?

Not if you're a Ponzi schemer. (Or if you have a soul.) 

Not very friendly.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
You seriously have to wonder whether Ricky Weeks (above) will experience the same drop-off in his game in the second half that felled other Derby participants in the past.

You're essentially condemning your friend's immediate future to prison. Yes, he's got enough a nest egg enough to survive whatever dip in earnings potential comes as consequence. And he's such a natural, he'll schmooze the pants off any potential client in any business, let alone in an interview.

 

Marked box for a felony charge or not, he'll be alright eventually.

Plus: you know he's dying for this opportunity. Between the lucre and rush, it's the kind you dream of as a kid, even if not by name. 

If you put that offer on the table, you're not waiting for a reply. No posturing. No pretense. Just an unabated, "HELL yes, paht-nah!"

Don't you want to do that for him?

You know you want to for yourself. This guy's going to be good. Not Bernie Madoff good. But, if he gets hot, catches some momentum, he's got the potential to tear the casing off ... ehem  ... wallets.

And the better he is, the better it makes you (the lead schemer) look. It's a self-perpetuating cycle, each stop of which you stand to profit.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Winning the home run derby in 2009 didn't treat Josh Hamilton (above), or 2005-winner Bobby Abreu well. Isn't that a consideration when captains pick their teams?

If nothing else, his presence eases you in what would otherwise be pretty stressful moments. Who knows? Maybe you pull the most (cough) investment dollars.

You can live with that.

But success here is directly proportional to risk. For all the perks, there's an increased likelihood that the whole thing implodes and falls squarely on you.

 

And the way this particular scheme is structured, it's only traceable to those who perform well. In other words: try as you, your buddy or anyone else may, there won't be consequences without results. Under-performers would basically get off scot-free, even if their intentions were lightyears more deceitful and shady.

The only one to succumb to the fruits of the plot would be the ones who tasted their nectar.

Isn't that exactly what happened when Home Run Derby captain Prince Fielder did in selecting Rickie Weeks to the squad?

Fielder could have picked anybody. In fact, he could have even picked division rivals Joey Votto (kind of how he gave Matt Holliday an invite).

Andrew Burton/Getty Images
His career has bounced back considerably, but Ray Lewis (right) succumbed to the Madden curse, the sort-of-similar intangible, yet enjoyable, risk for football players. Real or not, you have to wonder whether there's credence to the Madden or Derby curses.

Yet Fielder goes for his friend and second baseman, not exactly the position and corresponding body type of the prototypical slugger. Yes, a No. 4 ended up winning (Robinson Cano), but he's also something of an aberration. 

Not so much the case with American League captain David Ortiz tapping Boston teammate Adrian Gonzalez, given that his power hitting all but named himself.  

Simply put: Weeks wasn't a conventional pick for the Derby. Fielder said as much when asked.

 

"I wish I could invite everyone I knew," he told the Associated Press. "That was the only part that was a little tough, trying to narrow it down."

That's even more condemnable! That not only did he a.) dabble in cronyism b.) admit it was very much in spite of skill and c.) seriously compromised a teammates' (and consequently his teams') second half, but Weeks was already selected to participate in the weekend! 

Why risk it? 

Fielder's chancing it here, even if it's more like endorsement deals with EA Sports than skydiving. You really can't quantify why hitters who light up the Home Run Derby perform disproportionately worse in the second half, just like the reason appearing on the cover of Madden condemns you to either a torn hammy, inexplicably off-year, implication in a murder (1)—whatever. 

Ask Bobby Abreu (2005) and Josh Hamilton (2009) about their post-Home Run Derby win superstitions.

Look: the Brewers are tied in first in the National League Central with the Cardinals, hit the most home runs in the league and scored the fourth most runs in the first half. If Albert Pujols and Zach Grienke go opposite ways after their injuries, favorably for Milwaukee, they've got a real chance to take the division. 

And a Home Run Derby has less bearing on that than Kim Kardashian's tweets have an impact on our ability to rationalize the Casey Anthony verdict.

Even if Weeks smashed more than three over the Chase Field fence, you doubt that it would matter, thinking that Fielder should have weighted the possibility in his decision.

Right?

*** 

(1) Not only was Ray Lewis acquitted of all related charges in the Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar stabbing deaths, but they occurred in 2000, five years before Lewis appeared on the cover of that year's Madden.

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