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Matchup/Game Thread Game # 83 vs. Cubs

Carlos Marmol Roger Clemens
1 - 2, 4.18 0 - 2, 2.38

I don't usually write rebuttals to articles I haven't even read, but I'll make an exception in this case. Despite the preponderous overgrowth of weedlike advertising on their site, and that stupid ad with Yosemite Sam that pops up every time you try to reference some split or the other, ESPN still feels the need to charge cash money for half the content on their site, and I'm sorry, their columnists should be free content.

And anyway, I don't need to read Jayson Stark's latest, 'cause just from the cover blurb, I know what it's all about. He makes an example of poor Mark Redman--who's got a 5.50 ERA or something, but was named to the AL All-Star team--and (I'm sure) goes on to make the case that because of that the "silly" rule that every team should have an All-Star representative should be repealed or rescinded or whatever it is that Bud would do in giving it the deep six.

He's absolutely and totally wrong. The prerequisite that all teams must be represented is one of the best things about the Midsummer Classic. John Donovan may not have it right when he says that all manner of inequities in the voting should be forgiven, simply because the game is "for the fans," but that would certainly cover it here. It's hard enough to be a Royals fan or a Devil Rays fan in 2006, without having to watch the sport's grand midsummer celebration of itself go off without the participation of your favorite team. I remember what it was like in 1991, when I watched the first six innings of the game at SkyDome in something approaching a bored stupor, just so that I could catch Craig Biggio's at bat. It wasn't much of a season, and it wasn't much of a highlight, but especially in the pre-internet days it was still like a validation: one of my Astros there on the second-largest stage.

Stark talks about how Liriano is an All-Star, how Garciaparra is an All-Star, how you look at their numbers, and you know they deserve the recognition and the honor that has somehow been ripped away from them because Mark Redman, an impostor, a travesty to the long hallowed tradition of All-Stars, ripped their rightful places from them. Well, don't worry Jayson, there'll be more than a few players begging off over the next week, and Liriano and Graciaparra will be in Pittsburgh, don't you fret. And as far as Redman, listen, get over it. In the years to come, as it has been in the years past, the only thing that we'll take from the All-Star designation after a player's name is that one year, he was the best player on his team.

It has meant about that much since they moved in the proper egalitarian direction, and the fans understand this. No-one is putting Manny Ramirez on their fantasy team or shelling down 300 bills for their Albert Pujols jersey because those players made the 2006 All-Star team. The numbers drive the sport, and Pujols' succession of 30-homer seasons to start his career, or Ramirez' three OPS crowns are what's driving the fan interest.

As it should be. The All-Star game is an exhibition, and exhibitions go off best when as many representatives as possible are showcased.