SEATTLE : Paul Konerko #14 of the Chicago White Sox argues a called third strike with home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
First, take a deep breath, and hold it ... Now, exhale slowly ... one ... two ... three ... four ... five ...
Feel better? It's a holiday weekend, the time for friends and family and forgetting about life's vexing issues. Also, no matter how frustrated you might be upon the news that Derek Jeter will be starting the 2011 All-Star Game, and upon the news that [insert great player's name here] isn't even the roster, it's worth taking a deep breath and recognizing that in the eight days between now and the Mid-Summer Classic, a lot can change. All-Stars will be injured, All-Stars will be added, and some journeyman catcher who just happens to live in Scottsdale will be a last-minute addition to one of the rosters.
There will be a time for real indignation, but we'll save most of that for when the rosters are finalized, and one of our favorite players still is being so terribly wronged. Today, let's just recognize those American League players having great seasons -- or having good seasons, but are great players -- who haven't yet taken their rightful place among the All-Stars.
Ever year, some first baseman having a great season gets left off the team, and this year it's Paul Konerko's turn. How well has Konerko played this season? His 954 OPS ranks fourth in the league, his 62 RBI is third. Konerko's playing almost exactly as well as he played last season, when he was an All-Star and wound up finishing fifth in the American League's MVP balloting after the season.
But wait, it's not just Konerko! Mark Teixeira, a New York Yankee, has 25 home runs and he didn't make it, either. Granted, his OPS is just fourth among American League first basemen -- behind All-Stars Miguel Cabrera and Adrian Gonzalez, and Konerko -- but he is a New York Yankee and he plays first base like Mr. Fantastic (or so I'm told).
Seriously, the most deserving Yankee who didn't make the team is obviously CC Sabathia, who only (co-)leads the American League with 11 wins. Okay, so his 3.05 ERA is just 15th best in the league. But he's third in the league in innings pitched, and isn't there something to be said for having done it before?
Detroit's Jhonny Peralta is a) leading American League shortstops (by a lot) with an 898 OPS, and b) isn't an All-Star (yet). Peralta also leads his cohorts in batting average (.311) and slugging percentage (.538). While you might argue that Peralta's been over his head (true), you could obviously say the same about Asdrubal Cabrera, who did make the squad with lesser (though still impressive) credentials.
The American League needed a Kansas City Royal, and so it's no surprise that Alex Gordon is ... Wait, what? Alex Gordon is not the Royals' representative? Despite his 24 doubles and MLB-leading 13 outfield assists? Instead the Royals' lone representative is rookie setup man Aaron Crow? Nah. Must be a typo.
Dustin Pedroia got off to a slow start, but he's having a great season with the glove and leads American League second basemen with a .391 on-base percentage. Remember when Robinson Cano -- this year's All-Star starter -- was supposed to be the best second baseman on the planet? He's not even the best second baseman in his division; Pedroia is.
And finally, what about Ben Zobrist? In 2009, he put together one of the more surprising seasons in recent memory, playing every position on his way to an All-Star berth and some MVP consideration. After a disappointing 2010, Zobrist is back this year with another stealth MVP campaign ... but no All-Star berth. Apparently you just don't get any respect if you're No. 1 skill is the ability to play both right field and second base with aplomb.
So there you have it. Remember, take a deep breath. It's a holiday weekend, and it's early in the process. Also, if you complain too much about Paul Konerko somebody might get the bright idea of expanding the rosters again. And that way, my friends, lies the road to perdition.