Major League Baseball announced Sunday that Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has withdrawn from Tuesday's All-Star Game to be with his wife, who is in the hospital.
This gave American League manager Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays the opportunity to right an egregious wrong.
Maddon was given a free pass to add Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler to the All-Star Game.
In fact, adding Kinsler seemed liked the most logical option as well. Replace a second baseman with a second baseman—it just makes good sense.
Instead Maddon went a different route and added Tampa Bay first baseman Carlos Pena to the roster.
Instead of adding a more deserving player at a position that is suddenly in need of depth, Maddon chose to add one of his own players at a position that already features sluggers Mark Teixeira, Justin Morneau, Kevin Youkilis, and, technically, Victor Martinez.
Aaron Hill, second baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays, will now be the starter for the American League. The only other member of the AL roster with any experience at the keystone corner is Tampa Bay utility man Ben Zobrist.
The exclusion of Kinsler further proves two of the biggest issues in regards to the All-Star Game. The fan voting serves as more of a popularity contest than a true meter of who deserves to be honored as an All-Star.
Additionally, the managers are given too much opportunity to play favorites, a mistake which figures to be detrimental in the actual game. The AL now has five prototypical first basemen. Big bats that bring lots of power and little on the base paths.
A player like Kinsler, who is currently tied for the league lead in both home runs and stolen bases among second basemen, offers a lot more to a lineup than a lumbering first baseman.
Considering the game will be played under National League rules, it makes even less sense to add a one-dimensional slugger to the AL lineup.
Kinsler was left off the initial fan and player voting, a complete injustice given his offensive contributions this season.
Despite enduring a slump in recent weeks, his line on the season is still an impressive .253/.331/.494 with 20 home runs, 55 runs batted in, and 18 stolen bases.
The Final Vote campaign gave Kinsler yet another shot to make the All-Star roster, but he once again fell short.
The Final Vote, much like the initial voting, is done by fans and, as such, is again essentially a popularity contest that favors players in larger markets.
An equally deserving Brandon Inge won the Final Vote, and Kinsler was again left to watch the game on television.
The announcement that Pedroia was pulling out of the game, however, should have punched Kinsler’s ticket to St. Louis.
Instead, Maddon played favorites and Kinsler—arguably baseball’s best second baseman—will be missing out on a game that was created to honor players of his caliber, and that is a huge shame.