Pin Prick

by Adam Small | 7/11/01 5:00am

This sucks. No doubts about it, no questions asked, this plain, old sucks. The Boston Red Sox, who have led the AL East for six weeks and have been one of the five best teams in the American League the entire season, will have only one, count 'em one, representative at the 2001 All-Star Game in Seattle.

"How could such a thing happen?" a reasonably intelligent person might ask. Easy: the Damn Yankees. Namely Joe "Patton" Torre. The saintly ex-Cardinal second baseman who is now the skipper for the defending World Champions has once and for all flushed his baseball integrity down the toilet and sold his sandlot soul to the Boss himself, George Lucifer Steinbrenner.

Let's examine what went wrong, shall we? Admittedly, Manny Ramirez was the only Red Sox regular who deserved to start, so the fan voting went as expected. However, no Yankee was voted on, largely due to the first time inclusion of votes from Japan, a.k.a. "let's get Ichiro voted on to please our new pot o' baseball gold,": which inherently gained extra votes for the other three Mariners elected to start on the American League squad.

Now, admittedly, Traitor Joe can make a case for no other Sox being on the team on the simple basis that the Red Sox have no other everyday players, except Carl Everett who has not been All-Star worthy this year. This being said, worthy consideration could have been given to Trot Nixon, Brian Daubach and Dante Bichette.

Nixon is having a career-year at the plate, having already hit 13 home runs while his career high is 15. He has played hard-nosed and aggressive in all aspects of the game and has been an extremely good defensive outfielder in right field and filling in for the injured Everett in center field. Daubach is bashing the ball as usual, but has turned himself into one of the best defensive first baseman in the American League. Extrapolating their statistics to having played in all 80 games, and they would be well over the 20 - 60 marks, assuring them (in a perfect, i.e. logical, world) of All-Star status.

The same goes for Bichette, with the caveat that he was in Jimmy Williams' doghouse at the start of the season, at one point demanded a trade, and has basically carried this team through June while Manny was "struggling" and with Everett and Varitek being out of commission.

However, as bad as all of these oversights are, they pale in comparison to the snub of the Red Sox pitching staff. Boston has had the lowest team ERA the entire year. That means they have the best pitching staff in Major Leagues, let alone the AL. And yet, not one Boston hurler was named to the squad. Oh yeah, the Yankees have four pitchers on the team.

The esteemed Boston Globe has decided that the snubbing of Tim Wakefield is the greatest crime. Fine, I can deal with that. Wakefield, who many thought was washed up when no one wanted to sign him this off-season, and the Sox picked up his contract again. All Wakefield has done in response is go 5-2 with the second best ERA in the American League, behind the Dominican Magician, Pedro Martinez, while holding the fort as a starter and as a reliever.

Wakefield has even been called upon to relieve between starts, and has pitched exceptionally, and legitimately being a huge reason for Boston's mound dominance. However, he was passed over for Yankee Mike Stanton, Toronto Blue Jay Paul Quantrill and Twins starter Eric Milton. Both relievers have pitched well this season, but with Toronto's poor record and New York's documented bullpen troubles, neither man has been more valuable day in and day out than Wakefield. Milton (8-3, 3.73 ERA) has not pitched nearly as well as Wakefield (2.61 ERA) and yet received the nod anyway. Of course, Tim throws his dancing knuckler within the confines of Friendly Fenway, and so was passed over by the heartless wretch who inhabits the managers office at the house that Frazee bought.

Even worse that Tim though, is the snub to end all snubs, not naming Pedro to the All-Star squad. Yes, he's injured. So what? Joe had the fairness to name Pedro last year even though he was on the disabled list, why not this year? Pedro is still the best pitcher in baseball. He leads the AL in ERA (2.26), strikeouts (150), WHIP (.907) and opponents batting average (.194). His record (7-2) is still outstanding despite a team that has scored a meager 3.3 runs per game in Martinez's nine non-victories and has cost him a pair of 2-1 games and a 3-2 game. So why in hell isn't Pedro on the All-Star team? Technically you'd have to ask Joe. But I've got a fairly shrewd idea.

Joe wants Roger Clemens to start the All-Star game. We've all seen that Clemens himself said that he might not pitch in the game in order to rest. Torre turned around and said "Roger will pitch if he is selected." However, there would be a serious argument over Pedro vs. Roger to start the game if Pedro were healthy. Pedro's not, so Roger would start the game anyway. By leaving Pedro at the gate, Benedict Arnold Torre is attempting to clear out the press vultures who hate Clemens, rightfully so, and who would feast upon that asterisk.

The All-Star game will go off of course without corrections to these oversights, and once again nobody will watch it. But mark the date on your calendars next year, when the Sox, fresh of a World Series will be able to choose the All-Star lineup, and the only Pinstripe-wearer present will be Don Zimmer.