By Nick Shepkowski-
(CBS) It’s not even June yet, but I’m already sick of baseball’s 2014 Midsummer Classic. Sure, it won’t be played for another six weeks, but the stupidity of the entire thing already has me worn out.
I have enjoyed Derek Jeter’s baseball career as much as a non-Yankees baseball fan could. He’s the last remaining professional athlete whose poster was on my childhood bedroom wall, and his ability to deliver time after time in high-pressure situations won’t soon be forgotten. He’s a future first-ballot Hall of Famer and deservedly so.
But enough is enough.
If you’d like to honor No. 2 by giving him a number from your scoreboard or by making him a bench, then go right ahead. It gives him deserved acknowledgment each time he makes that final trip to a city, and often results in a substansial check going to charity that nobody will argue against.
But to give him a starting spot in this All-Star Game is indefenseible.
This isn’t Cal Ripken Jr. or Tony Gwynn getting honored with a lifetime achievement award during the 2001 game in Seattle. They were shells of their former selves and were elected to play that year based solely on their popularity at a time the Midsummer Classic didn’t decide World Series home-field advantage.
Yes, the fact Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game does that is moronic, but the idea of giving a player an honorary starting position only makes it worse.
Alexei Ramirez is having his best season to date for the White Sox, getting on base 35.7 percent of the time, leading all AL shortstops in the traditional triple crown stats and having a strong defensive year. To date, you could make a strong case for him to be in the top five of the AL MVP race.
But Ramirez isn’t currently slated to start the still “meaningful” All-Star Game and really has no chance of doing so. Jeter leads Ramirez by more than 130,000 votes in the early release, a margin that will likely only grow by the July 15 game.
Honor Jeter before the game, sure. Make him an honorary captain of the American League squad so he’s still part of the game, dandy. Put him in the starting lineup? Inexcusable.
The concept of an All-Star Game determining home field in the game’s championship round is dumb enough.
The fact that fans will vote in what’s now a novelty item instead of who gives the American League the best chance to win tells you all you need to know about the multiple flaws of the Midsummer Classic.
Nick Shepkowski is the associate producer of McNeil and Spiegel on 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @Shep670.