Game 93, White Sox at Mariners
Hudson vs Pauley, 7:10 pm.
These little blurbs become harder to write as the season wears on. I mean, I could spend a few minutes talking about David Pauley, but he’s a generic arm that probably won’t be in the organization in a few months, so what’s the point? So, instead, I’ll share a quick story.
Last week, I spent five days down in Anaheim covering the Futures Game and the All-Star Game for FanGraphs. The Wall Street Journal was kind enough to help me get a credential, so I milled with the media and did media stuff for a few days, hobnobbing with the likes of the great Larry Stone. It was certainly an interesting experience. The best part, though, was the Monday morning press conference when the managers announced the line-ups for the All-Star Game. Charlie Manuel, when announcing the NL line-up, said the following:
“Batting second, and playing second base, Martin Par-ough. Pair-doo. How do you say his name?”
Chuckles ensued, and then someone told Charlie how to pronounce Martin Prado’s last name. A minute or so later, he got to his starting catcher, who he called “Yeah-Dear” Molina. A few minutes later, he called his starting shortstop “Hansley”. Then, when a reporter asked him why he was starting Andre Ethier in center field (Ethier has the worst UZR of any outfielder in baseball this year and hadn’t played CF since college), he gave this incoherent rambling answer about Ethier having more votes. He then said something about not having a true center fielder, but that Ethier had played there recently, and so he could handle it. Of course, Ethier hadn’t played there recently; Manuel had either looked at the wrong player’s stat sheet (Corey Hart had played CF as recently as last year) or was just confusing the two players.
By the end of the press conference, I was convinced that Manuel knew less about the players on his team than every other person in that room, which is actually understandable. He’s pretty busy running his own team, after all. He’s 66 years old and one of the most country people involved in the sport (the word “bumpkin” was used to describe him several times last week), so I’d wager that he’s not exactly a wiz with the internet. None of the things he got wrong affect how he does his job. And, by all accounts, his players love him, so this isn’t any kind of criticism of Manuel’s qualifications to manage the Phillies.
But it was the most obvious indicator that if MLB wants fans to take the All-Star Game seriously, they should strongly consider just taking the players and managers out of the decision making process. Their job is not to effectively evaluate their peers, and when they try to do so, they’re generally terrible at it. Every time we get the results of some kind of player or manager voting, we usually have to strain to make it match reality. These guys are (mostly) good at what they do, but having a realistic perspective on the other 29 teams in the league is not what they do.
Give the votes strictly to the media – they’d do a much better job picking the All-Stars than the combination of players, managers, and fans. I stood in a room full of guys who knew that Ryan Howard had no business in Anaheim last week, and really had no business starting at DH against a left-handed pitcher, but they were the ones asking the question of “the insider” who didn’t know that. It was pretty interesting to watch. The media has gotten smarter at a much faster pace than the guys on the field.
Jack Wilson, SS