The selection of mediocre ninth-inning reliever Matt Capps to the All-Star Game neatly sums up all the major reasons I get annoyed with the whole All-Star Game routine.
First, I really try not to care that much. After all, it's such an obviously flawed process that it seems kinda pointless to fret over each individual misjudgment. Besides, it's just an exhibition. Oh, wait, it's not just an exhibition anymore, is it? Since the All-Star Game determines home field in the World Series, now I'm compelled to care.
My next top pet peeve with ASG selections is that the second halves of seasons never, ever seem to matter. If a player has a hot first half, he's an all-star, even if everyone knows that he's performing way over his head and will crater any day. Then again, a player can be one of the very best players at his position, but if he happens to have a bad April, he's out.
Matt Capps is a classic example of this silliness. Sure, you could argue I suppose that his saves total justifies an All-Star Game appearance (I wouldn't, but we'll get to that in a minute). But does his mostly terrible recent track record prior to the last three months really count for nothing? Shouldn't the All-Star Game feature the best players in the game? And don't you have to look at more of a player's body of work to decide whether they really belong?
I also get annoyed with the way the All-Star Game overvalues closers. Each year it seems like the ASG rosters are filled with about 8 good starters, maybe 1-2 really dominant ace relievers, and then 3-4 really pretty lousy pitchers who happen to be used in the ninth inning by their managers.
The last thing that really annoys me about the All-Star Game is the requirement that every team gets one player selected to the team. If a team is so bad that no player is deserving, then none should go, period. It would be an embarrassment to the team, pushing them to do more to get better.
In the Nationals' case, they had at least one legitimate All-Star in Ryan Zimmerman. Josh Willingham's numbers for this season certainly stack up, but I would probably have passed on him based on, again, his broader recent body of work (ie, he sucked in the second half last season).
But since Capps chosen--and it's really hard to imagine that Capps would be counted among the top closers in the game--it's fair to assume that if not for this rule, the Nationals might have no All-Stars at all.