Well, let’s begin with the managers.
In the first place, it doesn’t take much to get there as a player, for each league is required to have every team represented. You can see how much it mattered to Derek Jeter. Gets elected, gets the big home run, his 3,000th hit, then chooses not to spend a day in Phoenix. Too hot, too something.
But all the no-namers did. All the Cabreras, the Gonzalezes, Montero, Clippard, Ogando, Hanrahan, Crow and even a League with a name of his own.
In my earlier seasons, I savored the Major League All-Star Game, because there was no stranger in either lineup to me.
That’s OK, bring ‘em, the long and the short and the fat. Sorry, Mr. Ortiz. You saw what Pablo Sandoval managed to do with his body. When he broke scales in the Giants camp last season, they whacked him. He went on body raid and trimmed down to such a svelte figure that Bruce Bochy rewarded him with a ticket to the stars. I don’t know if he played or not, but that’s not the point.
Which brings me to my point of the day, and that is, the managers.
You know the rule: Your team wins the pennant and your manager wins his personal prize, managing the league team in the All-Star Game. Based on playing records, neither manager this year would ever have made it to the All-Star Game.
Ron Washington was a part-time infielder and Bochy was a catcher with heavy feet. They won pennants and prize that goes with winning them — managing the All-Star teams.
When the lights were turned off in Phoenix, Bochy had swept the board. The Giants won the World Series and his National League team completed the doubleheader for him. The Giants beat Washington’s Texas Rangers in the World Series. And now the All-Star game. No complaint there.
The question arises — should All-Star Game managers be manager players against whom they’ll return to the trenches as the enemy when the season resumes? Wouldn’t this be a museum kind of honor for retired managers from both leagues? Wouldn’t this have been just exhilirating to have Bobby Cox managing the Nationals against Joe Torre and the Americans. Or Tommy Lasorda hauled out of the kitchen to manage the Nationals against Cito Gaston and the Americans.
Exciting, eh? No one could be accused of playing favorites with the pennant race in mind. Or, as in the case of Bochy, saving his reliever Brian Wilson — the one with enough beard to stuff a mattress — to collect credit for the “save.” Not that the save is a stat I waste sleep over, the most abused statistic in the baseball.
There, I’ve said it, with no regret. Not that I expect ever to see the idea put into motion. But why not, Bud, if you’d like to see living memoribilia injected into the game?
Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The longtime Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books on major figures like Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He writes periodic columns for the Daily Post.