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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Punch All-Star A.J.!
by Hal Vickery

Once again it’s All-Star week. By the time you read this, Ozzie Guillen will be on his way to Pittsburgh to manage the American League team. And for a change White Sox fans aren’t the ones complaining about their players being snubbed.

Through whatever procedures (player voting, “Last-Man” voting, etc.) the Sox have seven (count ‘em) players on the AL roster. Three Sox pitchers made the staff: Mark Buehrle, Jose Contreras, and Bobby Jenks. The four position players who made the roster were first basemen Paul Konerko and Jim Thome, outfielder Jermaine Dye, and the winner of the “Last Man” balloting, catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

I hate to say it, but I really haven’t cared much for the All-Star Game since I was in college. Maybe it was all of those years of watching the National League destroy the American League during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Even “This Time It Counts,” has done nothing to revive my interest.

For the past decade the only reason I’ve watched the game is to be able to write a report on the performance of Sox players for the Windy City Sox Fans newsletter.

The problem for me with the current set-up is that a popularity contest – make that a contest of who can best stuff the ballot box – determines the starting teams. If it’s going to determine home-field advantage for the World Series, you don’t determine the starting lineups by relying on fans who are encouraged by their local ball clubs to vote for their players.

Add to that the overexposure of the Yankees and Red Sox by Fox Sports and the ESPN, and you get situations such as the one this year in which those two teams supply most of the elected starters for the American League. So if it “really counts,” how can you allow this kind of stuff to continue? Such is the idiocy of Major League Baseball under the guidance of Commissioner Budlight.

So there I was Thursday afternoon, sitting at my computer. I had just returned with my wife from a Joliet Jackhammers game, and had just sat down to check my email and the WSI message boards when at just about 4:30 p.m. I received an email from Brooks Boyer, the marketing director of the Sox. He informed me that voting was tight in the “Last Man” race, and he asked if I would post a message asking WSI members to spend the last half-hour of voting casting their votes for A.J. Pierzynski.

The only reason it took me as much as two minutes to get the message posted is that it took me that long to type it. Not only did WSI respond, but I took the time to repeatedly “punch A.J.” According to Boyer, the vote was so close that the ones cast by WSI probably helped make the difference. I take a great deal of pride in our members for doing that.

Now, you ask, doesn’t that make me a hypocrite? After all, I just spent the first half of this column criticizing the election same basic election method that is used to elect the starting team.

My answer is simply, “Not really.”

Here’s my reasoning. If some method that takes into account whether a player actually deserves to be on the All-Star team is put into place, then it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference who that last man is. If the team is selected by managers, coaches, players, and maybe writers and broadcasters, then who cares if the last man is chosen by the fans?

Major League Baseball has to decide what the All-Star Game is. Is it a “fans game,” as we were told for years when it didn’t count? Or is it something important in which the teams need to be selected with the greatest of care so that each league maximizes its chances of getting home field advantage for the World Series.

It can’t be both, but as long as Budlight is Commissioner, it will continue to be the mess that it is.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is a reminder that reservations for the first-ever WSI-Fest patio party on August 14 must be made by this Friday, July 14, in order to guarantee seating with the group. Many tickets are still available.

You don’t need to be a “member” of WSI who on the message board. All we ask is that you be a White Sox fan who wants to have a great time. Bring yourself, bring your family, or put together a group within our group. We don’t mind.

The foods and drink are unlimited, the company is great (all fellow Sox fans), and the Sox are playing. What more could you ask for?

See you there!


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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