Mike Schmidt Is Sad About Bryce Harper’s All-Star Appearance

Mike Schmidt wrote a thing about the demise of the All-Star Game, which is fine, because I like Mike Schmidt, and he played in another time, a time in which of course the All-Star Game had more meaning. But I can’t agree with this:

Enter the selection of Bryce Harper as a replacement in this year’s game. First, understand I have a great respect for Harper’s game and his presence as a first-year player, and believe in time he has what it takes to become a perennial All-Star. The greatest compliment I could give him is to say he plays the game the way Pete [Rose] did. I also understand that he has nothing to do with the selection process, that he is just going along with the program and will have to absorb the accompanying negative reaction.

Baseball just doesn’t get it. Jason Kubel has 15 home runs and 60 RBIs, Aaron Hill has 11 and 40, Hunter Pence has 16 and 50, Aramis Ramirez has 10 and 52 and Jason Heyward has 14 and 41, just to name five players who deserve it. These guys, based on their first-half performance, must give way to a player the fans want to see in a game. It’s not consistent with such a heavy reward for winning the game. Each manager really wants to pick a team he can win with, balanced and able to create the right matchups in late innings.

The fundamental point behind Schmidt’s thinking seems to be that this game means something, so each roster should include the very best players and the very best players only. His underlying point, though, is that the All-Star Game is for those players.

That’s just not true today, if it ever was. NL teams play AL teams in interleague action all the time, and fans can watch any game pretty much any time they like, so long as they have the means.

The outcome does determine home-field advantage in the World Series, but the WS has only gone seven games once in the past nine years. There are also 30 teams, you know, and only two of them would be effected even if it were to come to that. “This one counts” is a marketer-driven fallacy.

A little bit of the ASG is for the players, because I’m sure the acclaim and contract bonuses and such are nice. But it’s really for the league, its fans, sponsors and partners, all of whom benefit in bigger ways than the small group of participating players.

Thinking the other way around on that provides a limited view, kind of like basing a player’s all-around performance on RBI.

12 thoughts on “Mike Schmidt Is Sad About Bryce Harper’s All-Star Appearance”

  1. He even goes a little further than saying it should just be the very best players over the half-season but implies that the roster should be constructed such that there’s the best chance of winning one, single exhibition game

  2. I agree w Schmidt. After a hot start, Harper cooled off and didn’t deserve a spot over Kubel or Ownce, based on performance. And you make the correct point that it isn’t like people don’t have the chance to see him play during the season.
    But for fun and entertainment Harper is tops. As he showed by tagging up on a fly to left, getting himself thrown out on the bases and completely misplacing a routine fly ball. Good times!

  3. For a while there in May and early June games, there was a guy who sat behind the Nats home plate who looked suspiciously like Schmidt. Next to that guy was another guy who looked like undead Jack Warden.

  4. One of the most baffling things about sports is how much people care about the All-Star game while it’s happening, despite knowing very well that in one week’s time it is completely meaningless. Say remember who got snubbed from the 2009 All-Star game? Remember how unfairly constructed the 1997 AL All-Star Roster was? Of course you don’t. Because you shouldn’t.

    If you did care enough to have an opinion, people should be upset that All-Stars are selected based on ONE THIRD OF ONE SEASON. If you want the “All-Star” selection to mean anything, it should come at the end of the season, sort of like an All-Pro selection in football (still flawed).

    In a week, no one will remember or give a shit about any of this, and thank God.

  5. I would disagree @ThisGuy, while you don’t recall who was snubbed in a given year, the number of All-Star selections in a career do matter for marginal Hall of Fame players. So while Harper was a desirable selection based on fan interest, his on-field performance certainly didn’t meet the requirement this year, and deprived a more deserving candidate. Also, if fan interest is the primary driver, then Pujols should have been included, despite his subpar numbers.

    Also, the statistics do cover a full half of he season – all teams have played 85-87 games at this point (probably 83-85 at the close of voting and player selection) so more than half of the games were in place at the time selections were finalized.

    Harper is going to be a stud and shouldn’t be subjected to this, but the system is imperfect so people will continue to complain.

  6. There’s also a rather significant problem with his argument re: Harper. Harper was NOT elected by the fans!! He was selected by the manager as an injury replacement. So, if Schmidt has a beef, it’s with Tony LaRussa, not the unwashed masses of the internet.

  7. “the number of All-Star selections in a career do matter for marginal Hall of Fame players”

    I’d analogize this reasoning to # of wins for a pitcher, or RBIs. Real HOF voters will get that it’s loosely correlated at best with true ability. UNLESS HOF voters base their criteria on more subjective things like “stardom,” in which case the logic of Bryce Harper taking Jason Heyward’s spot makes sense.

  8. it can be a little more tangible than the hall. should harper and stras not get extended by then, im sure their appearance will weigh into arbitration just as it would for any other player that didnt make it

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