All Star Voting:
In Sunday’s LA Times sports section, the Dodgers ran an ad pushing tickets for their upcoming homestand. Monday 4 is "Sandy Koufax Action Statue Night." Thursday is a Coca-Cola Family Pack Game, meaning 4 tix, 4 Cokes, 4 Dodger Dogs, and 4 Puzzle Pins can be had for as low as $48. (Considering how bad the Dodgers have been recently- the two games they won to stop an 8 game skid seem to have tided them over for a while, having dropped another 3 in a row- that may not be such a bargain. With the 1st place Pads in town, LA has a chance to get back in it, or more likely, bury themselves deep in the NL West)
But the real attention grabber of the ad comes in the center- a plea for shortstop Cesar Izturis that reads: "CESAR NEEDS YOUR HELP!: YOU HAVE LESS THAN 5 DAYS TO ELECT CESAR IZTURIS TO HIS FORST ALL STAR TEAM! VOTE UP TO 25 TIMES AT DODGERS.COM!"
Ironically, as the Dodgers have pushed Cesar’s candidacy, Izturis himself has gone in the tank. Stuck in a .108 June (and at June 27, that’s basically the whole month gone), his average has dropped from .349 on May 25 to .283 today. You can now make a solid argument that Cards SS David Eckstein and his .380 OBP deserves the spot more… but that’s not the point!
The ad the Dodgers are running illustrates everything that’s wrong with Bud Selig’s horrible decision to link the All Star Game to WS home field advantage. If the game matters, teams shouldn’t encourage their fans to turn voting for the game into a Chicago election. Vote early, vote often, vote at the game and on the internet. If the game matters, than the rosters should, too. MLB can’t have its cake and eat it, too. You can’t let fans play an active role that could skew the quality of the teams (already skewed because of the mandate to include a member of every team) and then say the game matters. It should be what it has always been- an exhibition. Fans should be able to see a guy from their team. They should be able "vote up to 25 times on dodgers.com!" The guy who sits down next to you at the game and plows through a stack of 50 ballots should be encouraged. Stuff it for your favorite team. It’s a big popularity contest.
But none of that should happen in a game that supposedly counts.
While the Cards have two top starters in Chris Carpenter and a rejuvenated Matt Morris, I’m starting to worry about Mark Mulder. I know there’s lots of season left, and there’s little chance of the Redbirds giving up the lead in the Central, but if Mulder can’t get it together in time for the playoffs, it will seriously damage the Cardinals chances of advancing. If you look at potential playoff opponents- San Diego in the West, the Cubs as a Wild Card, Florida, Atlanta, and Washington, all except perhaps the Nats have 2 or 3 guys that can shut you down going through the rotation. In a short series, two dominant starts can be enough to push an inferior team through, and three will just about guarantee it. If Mulder rounds back into the form he was showing a month or so ago, that gives the Cards 3 top flight guys to go along with the stacked lineup and great D. They can still win without a dominant Mulder, but that’s why they got him and that’s what they need.
Stars They’re Just Like Us-
Even ballplayers have to pee sometimes. I read on banmaller.com that M’s reliever Matt Thornton was forced to use a public restroom at PETCO because the visitors bullpen doesn’t have a restroom, and is on the opposite side of the field as the visiting dugout. So Thornton hopped a fence, and stood in line with Southern California’s finest: "I met a guy named Stan, who invented a baseball cap with a handle so you can take it off fast to catch foul balls," Thornton said. "He said he tested it at a batting cage on pitches at 75 mph and caught five before the seams started to give out."
Wow. Can you imagine how awful it would be to find your seats, and see that the guy next to you is wearing a hat with a handle on it? You know a story is coming that you probably don’t want to hear. Guys who invent stuff like that tend to be guys who like talking about the stuff like that they invented. At length.
X Box to Play 1st Two Innings of Minor League Game:
The first two innings of July 16th game between the Kansas City T-Bones and the Schaumburg Flyers of the independent Northern League will be played by a couple of gamers on an X Box before the players take the field for the final 7 innings. This is a fantastic idea, really, because anyone who has ever sat through games for a losing team knows that it’s way more interesting to play them out virtually than it is to watch them live. I had a buddy that played an entire season of the Cards in his basement, mirroring their roster and schedule exactly, while the Cards played in real life. My friend’s season had way more intrigue, and each game only took an hour or so instead of three. Can’t beat that.