A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cal Ripken Jr.

Staring at the MLB website for the all star teams, I see this:

The visiting AL roster will look like this:
• Catcher: Alex Avila (Tigers)
• First base: Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox)
• Second base: Robinson Cano (Yankees)
• Third base: Alex Rodriguez (Yankees)
• Shortstop: Derek Jeter (Yankees)
• Outfield: Jose Bautista (Blue Jays), Curtis Granderson (Yankees) and Josh Hamilton (Rangers)
• DH: David Ortiz (Red Sox)

The AL pitching staff: starters Josh Beckett (Red Sox), Gio Gonzalez (Athletics), Felix Hernandez (Mariners), David Price (Rays), James Shields (Rays), Justin Verlander (Tigers), Jered Weaver (Angels) and C.J. Wilson (Rangers); and relievers Aaron Crow (Royals), Brandon League (Mariners), Chris Perez (Indians), Mariano Rivera (Yankees) and Jose Valverde (Tigers).

And the backup position players are: catchers Russell Martin (Yankees) and Matt Wieters (Orioles); infielders Adrian Beltre (Rangers), Asdrubal Cabrera (Indians), Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) and Howard Kendrick (Angels); outfielders Michael Cuddyer (Twins), Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox), Matt Joyce (Rays) and Carlos Quentin (White Sox); and DH Michael Young (Rangers).

The NL shakes out this way:
• Catcher: Brian McCann (Braves)
• First base: Prince Fielder (Brewers)
• Second base: Rickie Weeks (Brewers)
• Third base: Placido Polanco (Phillies)
• Shortstop: Jose Reyes (Mets)
• Outfield: Ryan Braun (Brewers), Matt Kemp (Dodgers) and Lance Berkman (Cardinals)

The NL pitching staff consists of: starters Matt Cain (Giants), Roy Halladay (Phillies), Cole Hamels (Phillies), Jair Jurrjens (Braves), Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Cliff Lee (Phillies), Tim Lincecum (Giants) and Ryan Vogelsong (Giants); and relievers Heath Bell (Padres), Tyler Clippard (Nationals), Joel Hanrahan (Pirates), Jonny Venters (Braves) and Brian Wilson (Giants).

The NL's bench will include: catcher Yadier Molina (Cardinals); infielders Starlin Castro (Cubs), Chipper Jones (Braves), Brandon Phillips (Reds), Gaby Sanchez (Marlins), Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) and Joey Votto (Reds); and outfielders Carlos Beltran (Mets), Jay Bruce (Reds), Matt Holliday (Cardinals), Hunter Pence (Astros) and Justin Upton (D-backs).

So yeah... this is what we're faced with... a midseason yawner - even for a Red Sox fan.
It's the sensation that it's all about the casual fans or the fans of the big 3 (Phillies, Red Sox, Yankees) and getting their players in the game. And this is not to say that their players aren't deserving, but...
It's always the but.
Derek Jeter seems to be the go to figure of hate this year as he gets ready to come off the DL and his time in Trenton to sit 6 hits away from 3,000, and that's a great feeling, but...
There's always a but.
Right now, he's hitting .260 with 2 home runs.
But according to Yankees fans, he's the best player in the game - careerwise - so why not let him play? After all, Cal Ripken got himself slobbered over in 2001 when he didn't deserve to be there either. In that year, he wasn't even at the Mendoza Line until May 6th. At the All Star Game, he was hitting .240. In 128 games, he hit 14 home runs and batted .239. But when the All Star Game was played out, he was the short stop with Alex Rodriguez moving to third base to let Cal have his own position. Foreshadowing of what he would do for the Yankees when he basically played the Red Sox off against the Rangers and Yankees, alienated Manny and Nomar, and proved how despicable he truly was, anyone (and why no Red Sox fan has ever felt, "we should have gotten him.")?
But Ripken went on to hit a game-winning home run and become the summer classic's MVP, which says a lot about what old men can and can't do. Can't say it makes me like him any more or any less. He's just Ripken... a great player that was Baltimore, but Baltimore was never my team and Ripken was just the game's Iron Man when it needed a hero. And he was the hero... in the same way Jeter is the hero, so if we have to put up with Jeter in the game, so be it.
I'm not going to feel giddy and all that he's there, but I understand and I get it. The fans get their votes, and why not let them pick? Why not ensure that there will be good ratings in a few cities at least?

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