Ok, so how does a catcher from Detroit who nobody knows the name of beat out the catchers for the Yankees and the Red Sox to make it to the starting lineup of the All-Star game?
Could it be because the Red Sox catchers are old (Varitek) and in the way (Saltalamacchia)? Could it be the gods of baseball are actually making sure that a guy with a .303 average and 10 home runs who is playing his heart out is there to represent the Motor City in the desert?
Whatever it is, Mr. Nobody Could Recognize Me at the Mall beat out Russell Martin in the final week of voting (showing that just because Jose Reyes can deservedly beat out Troy Tulowitski in the last week of voting with a little help from the Big Apple, then other people can do it, too). But let's be clear - while Martin has 10 home runs, he's batting .219. That pretty much sucks. And because this is a New York friendly game and most catchers in baseball are rather pedestrian in stats, Martin still gets to come.
Nevertheless, if fans can't be trusted to vote with their heads and not their baseball caps (or in the case of a lot of people in Japan - though not this year - their nationality), then let's take the vote away from them. Isn't it bad enough that the Royals, Twins, and Orioles are sending players to the American League squad this year? The same can be said for the Marlins, the DBacks, Nationals, and Carlos Beltran, who pretty much sucks except for the fact that he is considered trade bait in July, so he'll get a new paint job to trick someone used car salesman style (think Sidney Ponson). Then again, the same can be said for closer Heath Bell, who will finally play his way out of San Diego and into someone's debt as they overpay for a reliever (instead of creating one from a little bit of intensity and heart, which can come from their minor league system).
I get that Oakland gets to have a pitcher (Gio Gonzalez) there. It's not their fault that they can't back him up enough with run support. However, if a team can't field a respectable team, they shouldn't get represented. Let their fans revolt when the roster is picked from deserving talents (mind you, their exclusion can't be at the sake of adding CC Sabathia's slug self just to have another frickin' Yankee on the team).
Last year, Avila was a .228 hitter in about half of a season. This year, he's playing to win. He's holding down the catcher spot for a team that just paid Victor Martinez a lot of money (4 years and $50million) to play behind the plate (and first base and designated hitter) to help the team wrap up the division. He's doing the job with that .328 (even though he hasn't YET been invited to Phoenix), but now the Tigers get to ride some offense to go with that Justin Verlander dominance in their quest to reassume first place from those pesky Indians (still in first mind you - even in the midst of a series with the Yankees).
And there is a lot to be said for that first All Star bid... we're feeling a hell of a lot of local pride for Ryan Vogelsong's appearance, and it's great to see Lance Berkman come back from the dead to reappear in the game, too. That said, it's nice to see a new guard in baseball. And it's nice to see Milwaukee represented, but it's sad to not see Albert Pujols. It's depressing as hell to think about Chris Berman trying to make a home run derby with this cast of characters entertaining.
Yeah... it's not 1970, that's for sure.