Thursday, June 15, 2006
Use strategy when casting your All-Star ballot
One of our precious rights as Americans is to stand up and vote for people to represent us in important places like government and the All-Star Game. We must exercise that right.
Don’t go listening to whining sportswriters who say that fans should be stripped of their vote because they don’t know enough about the game. That’s elitist nonsense.
And besides, sportswriters are the ones who gave ARod the MVP last year, and who denied Tom Seaver of at least two Cy Youngs that should be hanging on his wall.
Great thought must go into filling out your All-Star ballot. It’s not something simple, like, I don’t know, picking players with the best stats.
No, there is great strategy at work. And there are two goals that override all others. First and foremost, elect as many Mets as possible. Second, keep Yankees off team.
This means that occasionally we have to cast a defensive vote and elect someone who might not be especially worthy. I didn't say this would be easy.
So here’s my ballot.
First base: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
Might as well start with a controversial one. Ortiz is a designated hitter. I don’t know the last time he played in the field. I don’t know if he even has a glove. The shame of it is that a deserving player like Paul Konerko of the White Sox can’t get our vote. But Ortiz is leading in the balloting, and Yankee Jason Giambi is right behind him. Explain to me how Bonds is booed and Jason Grimsley is banished, yet Giambi — who spoke of steroid use in leaked grand jury testimony — could be the starting first baseman in the All-Star Game. Not if we have anything to say about it.
Second base: Mark Loretta, Boston Red Sox
In a just world, Robinson Cano would be dodging "Dizzy Bat Race" contestants between innings at Columbus Clippers games. But because he plays in the Bronx, misguided people think he should be the starting second baseman in the All-Star Game. I’m not saying Mark Loretta is going to make anyone forget Ryne Sandberg. But he’s second in the balloting right now, and is our best chance to purge this Yankee.
Shortstop: Miguel Tejada, Baltimore Orioles
The fact that Yankee fans think Derek Jeter is a great player proves they are silly. The fact that they’ve convinced other voters that this stiff is going to Cooperstown makes them dangerous. Jeter’s atop the balloting, and it’s going to be tough to topple him. About the best we can hope for is that he’ll get the start and expose himself as a fraud on a national stage. Either that, or he’ll catch a routine infield fly, run thirty feet, dive into the cast of The OC sitting in the front row and have Joe Buck carry on for the remainder of the game about his "intangibles." Is it just me, or does anyone else think it’s a little strange that the casts of all these Fox shows just happen to be hanging out together at all these big games that Fox broadcasts? If enough of us vote for Tejada, a worthy candidate in second place, we can avoid this whole nightmare.
Third base: Mike Lowell, Boston Red Sox
Stinking ARod’s way ahead of him, so we need to rally around the resurgent Mike Lowell. After years of toiling for the Marlins, Lowell is discovering what it’s like to appear in games where fans out-number empty seats. ARod and his weak-ass .277 stick is, at best, the fourth-best third baseman in his division, and Met castoff Ty Wiggington is gaining on him. Look it up.
Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez
It appears that the Red Sox fans hate the Yankees nearly as much as we do, because Jason Varitek is leading in the balloting right now. But Pudge Rodriguez is gaining, and the Tigers deserve at least some respect. Both are ahead of chinless Jorge Posada, which is my main concern.
Outfield: Vlad Guerrero, Los Angeles Angels; Manny Ramirez, Boston Red Sox; Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners
Geurrero and Suzuki are certainly worthy. Ramirez is great pick because, remember, we’re pulling for the National League so we can get home-field advantage in the World Series. ManRam barely concentrates in games that mean something. In an All-Star Game he’ll be more interested in chatting with the cast of That ‘70s Show, conveniently sitting in the first row, and our boys can slap hit after hit to left until Ozzie Guillen goes nuts and pulls him. Vlad and Manny are up in the voting. Sadly, the traitor Damon is third, for now.
Speaking of Ozzie, isn’t it nice that he’ll have a say in picking the reserves. Torre clearly abused this responsibility, taking every Yankee middle reliever, fourth outfielder and pretzel vendor with him to past All-Star Games.
Now for the good guys.
First base: Carlos Delgado, New York Mets
Look, it’s not our fault that Albert Pujols can’t stay healthy. I would have voted for him, I swear. But since he’s on the shelf, Delgado is the best man for the job. Carlos, thanks to Al Leiter and a knucklehead agent, spent last year as Lowell’s teammate in Miami. Can you imagine his reaction on Opening Day in New York?
Carlos: "Hey, check it out! There are people in the seats."
Willie Randolph: "Yeah, they bought tickets and everything."
Carlos Beltran: "Sometimes they boo."
Kaz Matsui: "Sometimes they boo a lot."
Second base: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
Speaking of Kaz, we no longer have a dog in this fight. The guy we have listed on the ballot is now in Colorado Springs. Look at this as an opportunity. When some baseball snob looks down his nose and says "All you do is vote for Mets." You can say, "That is so wrong," point to your ballot and show your vote for Utley. The guy seems to kill the Mets every time, so he must be good.
Shortstop: Jose Reyes, New York Mets
Cardinal fans are well-meaning and very nice folks. But they’re loyal to a fault. David Eckstein is leading in the balloting. He’s a nice player and all. But he’s blocking Jose Reyes, clearly the best player. Did you know Jose has already walked as many times this year as he did all of last year? And he’s leading the majors in stolen bases.
Third base: David Wright, New York Mets
In the future, Wright for third base will be such an automatic selection that it won’t even appear on the ballot. Why waste all that time counting meaningless ballots? Our man overtook Scott Rolen to take the lead, and he’s not letting go until he retires.
Catcher: Paul Lo Duca, New York Mets
I love Mike Piazza. We all do. But Mike’s start in last year’s All-Star Game in Detroit was his curtain call. he even got to play drums with Alter Bridge before the Home Run Derby. Lo Duca has followed Piazza with the Dodgers, Marlins and the Mets, and now it’s time for him to assume Mike’s mantle as starting catcher in the All-Star Game
Outfield: Carlos Beltran, New York Mets; Jason Bay, Pittsburgh Pirates; Lastings Milledge, New York Mets (write-in)
Beltran started last year, and his recent march toward the MVP award makes his selection a no-brainer. He’s among the three leaders so far.
But I have issues with the others. We know for a fact that Andruw Jones would rather take a walk than swing at the ball, and in an All-Star Game I want to see some action. Ken Griffey Jr. is next, but do we really expect him to not be on the disabled list by early July? And Alfonso Soriano, who is in fourth, doesn’t even want to play in the outfield, as we all know from his little poutfest during spring training.
So nix those guys. Pittsburgh is the host. Throw them a bone and vote for Jason Bay, a former Mets farmhand who is recovering from his embarrassment in last year's Home Run Derby. And Lastings Milledge arrived too late to make the ballot, but he’s deserving. Or at least he has the potential to someday be deserving. I'm not going to split hairs. Besides there is always the chance that fans looking to get a high-five as he runs out to the field will trample the cast of Prison Break, conveniently sitting in the front row.
You are allowed to vote 25 times per e-mail address. Don’t be a slacker. You don’t want to be the one responsible if Jeter is out there basking in glory because he beat Tejada by 25 votes.
In other words...
My wife was watching the end of Wednesday's Mets-Phillies game and commented that she liked the hair in the new outfielder and asked who he was. Then I showed her this site, and now she proclaims Lastings Milledge to be her new favorite player.