I've been thinking about the fact that Joel Hanrahan, rather than Andrew McCutchen, will be representing the Pirates in the 2011 MLB All-Star Game.
Now, clearly, Joel Hanrahan is a deserving All-Star. He's got a blistering fastball, he's amazingly fun to watch and he's been blowing away National League hitters all year.
But it's immensely disappointing to Pirates fans to see Andrew McCutchen not on the team. McCutchen has been, by almost any reasonable standard, one of the best players in the National League, and he's been the face of a Pirates franchise that has been one of the best stories in baseball this year. He absolutely should be there.
Here's a suggestion for avoiding this problem. The issue is that each team needs to have a representative, and so what people do when they don't want to think too hard about a particular team is to just pick a reliever. After all, All-Star teams need relievers, so what better way to include a player from a sad-sack team than to pick a low-wattage player like a relief pitcher? This allows those who select the All-Star rosters to dismiss teams like the Pirates, while also somehow still acknowledging them.
Maybe the token player on each team shouldn't be allowed to be a reliever - each team should be represented by either a position player, one who plays every day, or a starting pitcher. Only after all teams are represented that way could relievers be selected.
This would, it's true, make selecting the rosters even more complicated. But it appears that the folks in charge do need a lot of hand-holding.
... Or, you know, maybe the folks who pick the teams could start doing so responsibly. Both McCutchen and Hanrahan deserve to be there. But the fact that McCutchen isn't there is a travesty.