Before I say anything else, I'd like to acknowledge that managing an All Star Game is hard. I don't know how we expect managers to fairly handle playing time when given 21 position players but only 30 plate appearances, which is what happened to NL manager Bruce Bochy last night. He also had 13 pitchers to use to fill nine innings.
As such, it's probably not surprising that Bochy left eight players out of last night's game. AL manager Jim Leyland didn't do much better, bringing five players to New York and sending them home without playing. Here's a quick look at the 13 players who didn't get any attention last night:
Cabrera (Padres), Castro (Astros) and Wood (Cubs) may represent the biggest disappointments among the non-participants, because in all three cases they were their team's only representatives. Cabrera was the NL's third shortstop, Castro was the fourth catcher (and Brian McCann also didn't play) and Wood had just pitched on Sunday, but there's a "spirit of the law" violation here: What's the point in bringing one player from every team if you're just going to have that guy sit around for three hours?
I've told this story a lot recently so my apologies if you've heard it before, but my childhood All Star Game memory is sitting through the 1996 game waiting to see Greg Vaughn...who didn't appear. Today, 13-year-old Astros, Padres and Cubs fans feel the same way I felt that night.
Having 26 pitchers in the All Star Game (two starters, 24 "relievers") is kind of absurd, and it showed here. There were only two pitchers to work multiple innings last night, and in the seventh inning the AL used three pitchers to record three outs. Despite those facts, though, both teams completed nine innings with a combined seven pitchers left in their bullpens.
I know both teams save pitchers for extra innings to avoid another tie debacle, but this is pretty extreme. Besides, did anyone (besides Morineko) tune in last night to watch the middle relievers?
On the surface the decision to hold back one utility player makes sense: In case of injury, you'd want someone on your bench that could fill almost any spot for an inning or two.
The All Star rules, though, make this job somewhat redundant. Both teams were allowed to designate one player as a candidate to return to the game in case of injury. The NL selected Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter. So even in the event of injury, having Scutaro or Zobrist around would've been a luxury, not a necessity.
Brian McCann: The alternate for the alternate
McCann was a late addition to the NL roster in place of Braves teammate Freddie Freeman, winner of the final vote. Adding him to the team meant four catchers were available to Bruce Bochy, who only played two of them.
I guess my purpose for writing this post is twofold:
- All Star Game rosters are ridiculously large, and that's a setup for disappointment. Sitting through a three hour game waiting for a single plate appearance to not happen is like going to your kids' dance recital only to later find out they stayed home to play video games.
- Secondly, this morning I Googled "Who didn't play in the All Star Game?" and didn't get any substantive results. So I made my own list. You're welcome, America.