Please consider these American League pitchers ...
Now, these ...
That first is a list of outstanding starting pitchers who did not pitch for the American League in the 2011 All-Star Game.
The second is a list of perfectly fine relief pitchers who did pitch for the American League in the 2011 All-Star Game.
According to FanGraphs' Wins Above Replacement, those six starting pitchers -- again, none of whom pitched in the ALL-STAR GAME -- have been the first-, third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-best pitchers in the American League this season. Also according to fWar, those four relief pitchers -- again, all of whom did pitch in the ALL-STAR GAME -- are perfectly fine.
If that's the best that Major League Baseball can do, they should just stop playing the damned game.
That was not meant as hyperbole. I don't traffic in such trickery. I could not be more serious. If Major League Baseball continues to operate this way, the All-Star Game should be allowed to die a peaceful death, with everyone (including me) just getting a few days off every July.
I don't mind the "This time it counts" thing; in fact, I kinda like it. I don't mind the additional roster spots that were added a couple of years ago, so much. If a player's legitimately hurt, I don't think he should play in the All-Star Game. But a system that can't get the star pitchers into the All-Star Game is a system that's manifestly, grotesquely broken.
Really, we're not asking for a lot. Yesterday, my colleague Al Yellon offered four ways to "fix" the All-Star Game. Some of his ideas I like, some I don't. But there's really just one thing wrong with the All-Star Game: there aren't enough stars in it.
Or there weren't in the 2011 All-Star Game, anyway.
This really isn't a difficult thing to fix. MLB should either abolish the silly rule prohibiting starters who pitched Sunday from pitching Tuesday; they did just that for many decades, with little (if any) ill effect. But if that's just not palatable, the obvious solution is to push the All-Star Game to Wednesday and give everybody Thursday off, with the schedule resuming Friday evening. Baby-simple. But what happened this year is simply unacceptable.
Look, this isn't sour grapes. I root for the American League, because National Leaguers are arrogant and Charlie Hustle destroyed Ray Fosse and Dickie Noles tried to murder George Brett. But the Americans scored one run last night. They probably weren't going to win, no matter who pitched for them. This is about being a baseball fan. When I watch the All-Star Game and the great majority of one league's best pitchers aren't allowed to pitch ... Well, that's more than frustrating. As a baseball fan, I'm infuriated. In a perfect world, we could file a class-action lawsuit against Major League Baseball for false advertising.
Because those American League relief pitchers we saw last night? Technically, they were All-Stars. But they sure as hell weren't stars. And if we don't get stars, we're not going to watch a glorified exhibition game. No matter what they call it.