What I wanted to bring up was the fact that the old sportswriter/broadcaster saw about how unjust the fans balloting is got turned on its ear this year, since both the AL and NL squads are perhaps the most justifiable starting lineups I can remember. At almost every position, the fans nailed it; you can squabble about Polanco over Roberts, Beltran over Holliday and Wright over Cabrera, but all of those were either close enough or justifiable based on a wider range of criteria to not be worth it. Whether its a newfound awareness of statistics on the part of the fans, or a shortage of "legacy" players like Ripken and Gwynn hanging around that get in based on popularity, the bottom line is that no one can accuse the fans of fucking this one up.
You know who you can accuse of fucking things up? The NL players, and perennial dickbag/pitcher killer Tony LaRussa. For the love of Pete, what a fucking hatchet job those assholes did on the reserve team. You, my friends, are the ones who got it wrong.
Chief on the list is the mystifying absence of Hanley Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins from the squad, with an honorable mention to Edgar Renteria. It's a goddamn golden age for NL shortstops right now, with four players at the position coming up in the NL's top 20 in VORP. You want to know which one of the headlining shortstops isn't in that group? J.J. Hardy, the only fucking shortstop selected to the reserve squad. I'm sorry, but that's absolutely insane; there's not a single, knowledgeable fan of the game who doesn't realize that Ramirez, Renteria and Rollins have all been better than Hardy this season. I don't even think you need to use nerd statistics to back this one up; besides HR, there isn't a single category of stats in which you'd conclude that Hardy was better than any of those three.
You know who ended up getting a reserve spot over those awesome and exciting players? Pirates 2B Freddy Sanchez, that's who. Sanchez has torn up NL pitching to the tune of a .305/.336/.380 line, with a whopping 1 home run
Know why Snell isn't on the squad, though? It's because LaBortion decided he needed six fucking closers on the team. Six! Six! Sure, every one of those guys is doing well this season, but at some point shouldn't you just stop? Swap Papa Grande out for Snell, and give Fuentes' and Sanchez's spots to Ramirez and Rollins (or one of the other very deserving candidates, like Chris Young, Eric Byrnes (sigh ... I admit it, he's good, and I need to stop hating him), Adrian Gonzalez, or Renteria). Instead, though, we've got LaRussa trotting out more closers than the Bellagio blackjack pit. Sweet Kelly Gruber on a Triscuit. LaRussa must be figuring that if they're all ninth-inning guys on his staff, none of them will die the night before the game.
The fans will get to vote the final spot for the NL, and I've got a feeling that it's going to be Ramirez or Rollins taking that last spot (I'm voting for Rollins, just because he's on my keeper team and I have an unhealthy love of him, though I know Ramirez is probably the better objective choice). But that race shouldn't have included no-brainer guys, and it didn't have to.
As always, the moral of the story is: Don't trust people who wear sunglasses inside, or at night. They are probably bad at managing things.
(Late edit: Neither Ramirez nor Rollins is on the last-man vote ballot. Fucking brilliant, MLB! Who would want to showcase one of the two most entertaining young players in the game?)