As a veteran of the "Ken Harvey, All Star" experience, I can still confidently say, that was weird last night. Last night, while the chicken breasts were marinating I was watching the "Baseball Tonight" shoutfest that announced the 2006 All-Stars. The program was both maddening and confusing: digging for any semblance of "March Madness" style controversy the panelists debated the All-Star selections on ever shifting grounds. Why debate who should start on the merits of their play, when that has nothing to do with how the starters are selected?Everyone knows this, as we say now, "it is what it is".
Like all good TV "debates" the terms of the argument shifted continuiously, as the objections were coming from all fields: Kruk was stumping for Raul Ibanez as a starter based on Raul's half-season of his life, while Harold Reynolds simply said, "How can you have an All-Star game without Ichiro?" in a weird half-StageAsian funny voice. Good stuff.
To fill time, the teams were announced piecemeal -- starters, pitchers, reserves -- followed by more "debate".
And thats when it happened.
The AL pitching staff was listed on a screen, and in the middle of the page (I guess thats what it would be called) was Mark Redman (5-4, 5.49 ERA).
I could have seen one of the relievers being selected, especially Elmer. Considering the bizarre nature of the All-Star game, loading up on pitchers, especially those who are familiar working single innings, really isn't a bad idea. But Mark Redman? What?
Jenn Sterger asks, "Why did he make the team?"
Amazingly, as if there was a conspiracy of silence, I didn't hear any discussion of the Royal/Redman situation, only Ravech reading his name as saying, "remember, you have to have a Royal". That was it. I can't even remember another general "debate" on the one-player-from-each-team rule. Just more unspecified bitching about Player X and Y being starters. Honestly, is there anything more tired in baseball than this annual rigamarole? Well, other than steroids.
By the way, where's the story about juicer/cheater/satanist Derrick Turnbow making the team. This despite his evil decision to use steroids, which will only encourage millions of CHILDREN!!!! to use PEDs and then drop dead...
Lets get this out of the way: yes, the one-player from each team rule is problematic, but the larger obstacle to logic is more basic; the team rosters aren't near big enough. Does anyone in KC care that Redman made the team? I doubt it. Does it make the game anymore interesting? No. We get to watch the Royals, umm, any time we want. However, would their be some manufactured outrage if no Royal made the team? Perhaps. You could write that column in about 13 minutes, complete with the "small-market, no hope" angle for good measure. What about the effects of not having an All-Star for three or four years in a row? Yea, that'd probably be a little bad. Still, I think the bigger problem for KC fans is much simpler: the team is horrible and the franchise has a shaky record regarding its interest in actually getting better.
The more interesting question for me is, "How does Mark Redman feel?" Wouldn't you feel a little embarrassed? Over-glorification has a strange ability to diminish. Labelling Mark Redman an "All Star" only draws attention to the fact that he isn't an elite pitcher, its almost unfair to him, mocking the actual merits and abilities he does have.
Redman, as far as I can tell, is eschewing candor for the complete self-confidence you would expect from a professional athlete:
"I think anyone would be surprised with getting picked," Redman said. "Pitchers aren't really voted in, I don't think. It was an honor." (kcroyals.com)
"The ultimate goal is to win the World Series. I've done that, but one is not enough. But making an All-Star team is definitely an honor and a thrill." (KC Star)
Interestingly enough, Grudz seems sincerely downcast after not getting his expected call,
?It?s one of those things,? said Grudzielanek, who is batting .279 and has yet to make an error this season in 72 games at second base.
So why did Ozzie choose Redman?
#1) The Florida Connection: Ozzie was a coach for the Marlins in 2003, also known as Redman's career year. Redman went 14-9 with a 3.59 ERA. In the postseason Redman went 3-0 in 4 starts, with a 6.50 ERA. I've never heard either guy mention the other, but its definetely possible that the Florida Connection had something to do with Redman's selection. Ozzero has plainly shown that he's all about looking out for his guys here. Ozzie (or whatever Sox coach/intern) could have looked at the Royals roster and thought, "I/Ozzie knows Redman, and he was good for us/him in 2003."
#2) He's a Starting Pitcher: Ozzie wants innings or insurance for an extra inning game. He might be envisioning Redman as a late-inning scrub in case the game gets weird: extra innings, a blowout, guys get injured, etc.
#3) He's Left Handed: This would contradict rationale #2, but who knows. Maybe Ozzie is planning on showing off and over-managing the game, complete with LaRussian/Three Nights in August style matchup fetishizing.
#4) He's 5-4: Perhaps the lamest rationale, but possibly the most likely one as well. Redman is the only Royal starting pitcher with a winning won-lose record. I don't know whats worse, the intellectual laziness behind this thinking, or the fact that Ozzie/Whoever may actually value the information conveyed by "5-4". Its all about winning, just ask Tom Brady I guess.
#5) He's a Hot Pitcher: This one might be defensible, but also ranks as highly unlikely. Redman does have a 4.42 ERA in the last month, and did win 5 straight decisions (again the "won-loss" fixation).
#6) He's the Best Pitcher on the Team: If you polled fans, baseball people (writers, execs, scouts, etc) and players, Redman would probably be viewed as the "best" non-insane pitcher on the team. As mentioned above, he's has some OK years before, and did win a World Series against the Yankees. He was also picked up by Billy Beane, in a move that at the time was hailed as another good A's move. People in multiple camps of the baseball population probably have a somewhat OK (again, such faint praise, but what do you expect) opinion of him.
#7) Ozzie has Some Lingering Grudge Against Grudz: Pure speculation, but would it surprise you? Grudz has been around since 1995, so its possible they've crossed paths.
Thats all I can come up with. What do you think?