All-Star error for players

The Baltimore Sun

Take the All-Star voting out of the fans' hands?

I have a better idea. Don't let the players anywhere near it.

Since I've been old enough to punch a ballot instead of my older sister, I've been hearing how baseball's midsummer classic has become a popularity contest, it's an outrage and something must be done about it or the integrity of a meaningless exhibition game - except for the gimmick about the winner getting home-field advantage in the World Series - will be smeared beyond recognition.

So, instead, we have fans making their selections, and we have players deciding that Boston Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek deserves to go as a reserve.

Really? The same guy batting .215 with seven homers and 27 RBIs after last night's game? That Jason Varitek?

The Red Sox's captain is hitting under .100 in his past 10 games, so maybe the prevailing theory is that he's due. More likely, his selection had something to do with his popularity among other players.

Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez has received a bundle of criticism this season, but he's hitting .246 with seven homers and 33 RBIs. And nobody's pushed him for the All-Star team.

Varitek probably can retrieve a wild pitch faster than Hernandez, who often seems to be waiting to transfer buses before getting to the backstop. Maybe that's why he's going to Yankee Stadium. He does hustle.

It's not a perfect voting system. Every team has to be represented, so nondeserving players are squeezed onto rosters each year. And the Red Sox would have been shortchanged without Varitek. You can't expect only six of them to represent the American League. He just had to be there.

The players didn't whiff completely. They made sure Milton Bradley joined the festivities - as designated hitter with David Ortiz injured - along with second baseman Ian Kinsler, who should be starting instead of Dustin Pedroia, and center fielder Grady Sizemore, who should be starting instead of Ichiro Suzuki. But all that good is wiped out by their insistence on Varitek.

Talk about collusion in baseball. This is worse than anything the owners could have organized.

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