Listen, this is pretty simple. You don’t light fireworks with an NFL player, you don’t yell “Avengers, assemble!” without Captain America, and you absolutely do not have an All-Star game without the best pitcher on planet Earth.
This really needs explaining?
Clayton Kershaw is putting together one of the best five-year runs in baseball history. He is the National League’s reigning MVP and Cy Young winner.
And, also, he currently is not invited to be on its All-Star team in Cincinnati.
It would be next to embarrassing if it wasn’t just flat out embarrassing.
You don’t throw a Formula One race and not invite Ferrari. The All-Star game is supposed to feature the best players in baseball, and that means Kershaw.
OK, so right now he has those positively odd-looking numbers next to his name. When you think of greatness, a 6-6 record is not what jumps to mind.
But I thought we were all so elevated now with our modern way of viewing numbers, all enlightened to the true value and near serendipity of earning actual wins and losses.
Baseball writers couldn’t stop patting themselves on the back after giving Felix Hernandez the American League Cy Young Award in 2010 despite his 13-12 record, well below that of David Price (19-6) and CC Sabathia (21-7) that season.
And now Kershaw is being punished like some fallen baseball god? The players did not make him one of their five starting selections and National League Manager Bruce Bochy in conjunction with Major League Baseball — whatever that actually means — did not choose him as one of the two additional starters.
What kind of world is it when sportswriters are more open-minded and progressive than players and managers about their own game?
After announcing its All-Star team Monday, the National League said Kershaw would be included in its final vote contest to elect the team’s last player, dumping him in with four others. That’s almost demeaning.
His club is now begging for online votes, something the Los Angeles area has never been particularly good at participating in, for the reigning MVP.
It’s not as if he’s fallen off the mountaintop, dropping down into some pool of pitching mediocrity. He leads the league in strikeouts. After his start Wednesday, he is seventh in WHIP — walks and hits per inning pitched — at 1.02 and eighth in opponent batting average at .217. His earned-run average is 2.85. His peripherals — the sabermetric stuff — are all terrific.
His great failure apparently has been in not being absolutely dominating every start, while measuring up to the incredible standards he set for himself.
But he is unquestionably still one of the best starting pitchers in the National League. He is indisputably a superstar. And that’s what this game is supposed to be about — stars.
If fans were also voting in the pitchers, think they would have left him off?
In the 1960s, the NL would never have put together an All-Star team without Sandy Koufax, and it shouldn’t send one out now without Kershaw.