Wednesday, July 16, 2008
And with those words one of our local Durham readers and future correspondents cut right to the chase.
"Did you hear Papelbon wants to close," he said. He was coming through the LG loud and clear.
"Yeah, so?" It took a second for the rosy glow of dawn to rise over the Clarion's desk.
He was right. If the Boston Red Sox ace closer, Jonathan Papelbon wanted to be the closer for tonight's All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium, why shouldn't he be? And therein lies the crux of the problem with tonight's Major League baseball All-Star game. A problem started by the used car salesman commissioner, when he let the 2002 All-Star game end in a tie.
Tonight's All-Star Game won't end in a tie. Instead it will decide which league will have home field advantage in the World Series in the Fall, baseball's championship. Home field is significant. Why shouldn't Papelbon and his manager, Terry Francona, of the defending champion Boston Red Sox want their guy to pitch the most important innings in a game that decides home field advantage for the championship round?
The All-Star Game is supposed to be, and always was supposed to be, an exhibition. If it were, of course, it would make perfect sense tonight for Yankees ace closer and future Hall of Famer, Mariano Rivera to pitch the final innings of the All-Star game. The All-Star game which will be played in Yankee Stadium, in the historic stadium's final season. None of the ridiculous debate about Rivera starting would have been necessary.
This is a classic case of how two wrongs don't make a right, it was bad for the All-Star game to end in a tie in 2002. It came during a nadir for baseball. However it was a still worse idea to compound the mistake, the prior year's foolish tie, by attempting to turn an exhibition into a competition. Now it is neither. It as farcical as the glorified batting practice that is the home run derby (another competitive exhibition.)
Maybe Frankie Rodriguez should close.