Monday, June 18, 2007

Who Makes the Call?

Another week passes, and the gap between Barry Bonds and the Top 3 National League All-Star vote-getters widens. With less than two weeks left, barring an unlikely last minute surge, Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa and MLB will have a tough decision to make on Barry Bonds for the All-Star game. It is almost as if the fans want to see what Selig will do, rather than take the pressure off by voting him in.

Can baseball really leave Bonds out of the All-Star game in his hometown, the year is going to break the homerun record? Recent precedents say no, with baseball putting both Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn on the team during their respective swan songs. We all remember the batting practice fastball Chan Ho Park grooved to Ripken that night in Seattle. Bonds is arguably just as legendary as those two players, from a baseball perspective at least, home run record or not, and San Francisco is his ballpark. Bonds helped build this stadium by single-handedly increasing the Giants revenue the past 14 years.

Unlike with Gwynn and Ripken, there is the whole other story. BALCO, the investigation, the potentially tainted record, “that stuff” as Giambi refers to it. The only reason this becomes a dilemma is Bonds’ 2007 on-field performance, while representative, is not All-Star worthy. Bonds’ offensive numbers are right in line with the likes of Brad Hawpe and Jason Bay, on-base percentage and walks notwithstanding.

Do not feel bad for Tony LaRussa. There is no chance MLB will put this decision in his hands. I guarantee that higher authorities will make this call. My gut tells me they put him on the team. If I am Selig I put him on the team, but if Bud plans to make a point and use Bonds as an example what better stage. While ESPN is probably hoping to host the big announcement when they unveil the All Star lineups on Sunday night in a few weeks, Selig will provide a hint to his intentions with his handling of the Giambi situation this week. Heavy handed, or afraid to stir the pot?


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