All-Star Issues

Last Friday when I attended the Cardinals-Cubs game at Busch Stadium, I was able to vote for the starters at the All-Star game. I went through and carefully punched out the little holes representing who I thought had performed well enough to represent each league at the Mid-Summer Classic. Right about the time I punched out Ian Kinsler’s name for 2nd base on the AL side, my roommate leaned over and said, “No, that’s not right, I’m voting for Brendan Harris.” When I asked why he would vote for the light-hitting shortstop, he explained, “We’ve lost like what, 10 in a row? I’m giving them the worst lineup I can.” This is exactly why I have an issue with Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game.

Ever since the disastrous 7-7 tie in 2002, the winner of the All-Star game has claimed home field advantage in the World Series. Commissioner Bud Selig felt that if he made the All-Star game count for something, it would add intensity and therefore television ratings to the quickly deteriorating game. I don’t think this is a terrible idea, but Mr. Selig stopped a few changes short of making it a good idea.

First, if this game is going to count for something, the fans should not be involved in the voting. Fans turn the game into a popularity contest rather than a serious event, which is not what this game needs. People like my roommate pick the worst possible AL players to try and finally get the NL out of their slump. This way we don’t end up with the players who are having the best seasons, but the most popular players, or the big market players. The best example I can think of off the top of my head is when Scott Rolen was voted in as the starting NL third baseman while hitting .251 with 5 homers and 26 RBI. Rolen was unable to play due to an injury that would limit him to just 6 games after the break. The man who replaced Rolen and who the fans passed over, Aramis Ramirez, had a line of .298/19/57. Again, if this was an exhibition game, a popularity contest would be fine. Major League Baseball needs to do one or the other: meaningless exhibition, or home field determining contest which the fans have no bearing on.

Still want to vote for the starters? Think Scott Rolen deserved that All-Star game? Let me know in the comments.

Hopefully the NFL Does the Right Thing

This post is going to be kind of hard for me, as a Rams fan.  As most of the free world knows, the New England Patriots are under an ongoing investigation for taping the signals of the opponents’ coordinators, as well as the pre-game walkthroughs.  This has become known as “Spygate” because, as we all know, adding “gate” to the end of anything automatically makes it a scandal.  When former video assistant Matt Walsh stepped forward and said he did the taping, Patriots coach Bill Belichick claimed he “couldn’t pick Matt Walsh out of a lineup.”

The NFL fined Belichick $500,000 and forced the team to forfeit their first round selection in the 2008 Draft.  The latter punishment had little effect since the Patriots held the 10th pick after a trade with the 49ers from the year before. (Unfortunately for Weller, they took former Tennessee Linebacker Jerod Mayo.  An intervention was held. He’s fine now.)

Walsh is now scheduled for a meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday morning to review the tapes.  John Clayton just reported on ESPN that he expects nothing to come of the meeting since the NFL already knew about these tapes.

Now, I don’t know if the NFL has seen the tapes or knew about the tapes before Matt Walsh sent them in for review, but I do know that video taping another team’s signals is wrong.  I also know that Walsh’s tapes range in date from 2000-2002 and that the Jets’ claims came from 2007.  I highly doubt that the Patriots stopped taping teams from 2003-2006 and happened to start again at the beginning of last season.

I talked with Weller about what kind of punishment we’d like to see the Patriots given.  He said lots of things that I can’t repeat, so I’ll let you use your imagination.  Eventually, I decided that I’d like to see Belichick suspended for at least 8 regular season games, if not the entire season.  If this were the punishment, he would miss at least two AFC East matchups as well as other key games at San Diego in Week 6 and at Indianapolis in Week 9.  I figured if Chris Henry was suspended for 8 games and Pacman Jones was suspended for a year for multiple non-football incidents, then Belichick should be suspended at least that long for an actual football-related crime.

Weller finally decided that he would be happy if they took away at least one of their Super Bowl titles.  I would be alright with this as well, but I’d rather have it matter in the present day.  It would be nice if they retroactively awarded the Rams the Super Bowl, but A) that won’t happen and B) it really wouldn’t mean that much at this point.  It would be like the NCAA taking away the Fab Five’s Final Fours,  or Reggie Bush’s Heisman.  We all know they won, it doesn’t matter if they have a trophy or a banner.

Let me know what you think should (or shouldn’t) happen to Mr. Belichick in the comments.

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