COMMENTARY | Major League Baseball's All-Star game is upon us. And with the voting coming to a close soon, the fans have spoken. They want Chris Davis to start at first base!
Yep, Chris Davis. Really. The league office confirmed it's not a computer glitch. If you're not in Baltimore, you probably don't even know he's on the Orioles. Sure, he's having a great first half and (even though he'll probably regress in the second half) certainly deserves to be an All-Star -- just not as a starter over the likes of Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder.
However, no other first baseman has a chance to start because Orioles fans have been stuffing the ballot box this year -- not surprising for a fanbase located so close to Washington, D.C. Their three outfielders, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Nate McLouth, are currently first, third and sixth in voting despite only Jones being even remotely statistically qualified.
But, Jed, Chris Davis leads the league in -- blah blah blah. I don't care. Here's why Pujols should be the starter instead of Davis or even Fielder:
1. Name recognition
They call it the "All-Star" game, not the "Some Stars" game. Pujols is having a down year, but he's recognized worldwide. Chris Davis? I don't know if he's a baseball player or an accountant specializing in real estate equity. Pujols is one of the few iconic players of our time. No matter if you love Pujols or hate Pujols, he just makes for a better show.
Some people think that the All-Star game actually means something more than just an exhibition game. But, Jed, the winner gets home-field advantage in the World Series! Oh, my, that almost sounds like it makes a difference.
If it is so important, then maybe you want a guy in your starting lineup with experience handling the pressure -- maybe someone with two World Series rings. Pujols. Certainly not just some guy having a fluky season, like Davis.
Sometimes being an All-Star isn't about how many home runs you have on June 30, but what you've done over the last decade. Pujols is a guaranteed Hall of Famer. Before you get your shorts in a twist, just remember that last year Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones were All-Star starters -- voted in by the fans.
Pujols went from being one of the most-liked players in the league to one of the most-despised because someone else gave him a bunch of money. So far, Pujols hasn't lived up to the deal, but a good showing on the worldwide stage of an All-Star game could be the start on his road to redeeming himself. Good television. Or Pujols could fail miserably and his haters can have a parade. Great television.
5. That name
In addition to being a great ballplayer, Albert Pujols also has one of the greatest names in the history of sports. In this article alone, I have managed to mention his name over a dozen times. Just imagine the fun we'll have listening to the announcers talking about the "struggling Pujols" and "aging Pujols" -- that's worth the price of admission right there.
It's called the All-Star game and the teams need to have stars in order to promote the sport and delight the fans. It's nice to acknowledge a player who's having a breakout year by putting him on the team. But no one is tuning in to see Chris Davis. Give me Pujols.
Jed Rigney is a Los Angeles-based award-winning filmmaker who also fancies himself a baseball writer. He is the lead humor columnist at Through The Fence Baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @JedRigney.
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- Albert Pujols