Tyson Ross, a first-time All-Star, will not pitch in the All-Star Game.
Major League Baseball implemented a rule that no starting pitcher who competes for his team on the previous Sunday will be allowed to pitch in the All-Star game. A pitcher who pitches on Sunday will be replaced on the roster, but will still recognized as an All-Star, and can still attend the game and take part in the activities. But pitch on Sunday, and you’re not pitching in the game.
Another bizarre All-Star rule that happened under Bud Selig’s watch. Congrats, you’re an All-Star! But you can’t play. Feel free to come sit in the dugout, though, and sign 1,000 autographs at the FanFest!
I understand why they added the rule. Starting pitchers are on a strict throwing routine between games. And guys don’t throw two days after a start, except maybe a light bullpen session. But somehow we’ve managed to get around pitching routines for the last 80 years. All-Stars play in the All-Star Game. Well, except for Everth Cabrera.
Nevertheless, the rule is there. And Ross’ turn in the Padres’ rotation comes up on Sunday against the Dodgers.
If Ross is disappointed, he’s not overtly showing it. He’s saying all the right things:
“It’s unfortunate that I can’t pitch in the All-Star Game, but I get to pitch for my guys on Sunday against a division opponent. That’s a big game for us. I’m here to pitch for my guys. That’s my No. 1 priority: I’m a Padre. These [regular-season games] are the only ones that matter. I’m here for the other 24 guys in this locker room.”
(h/t to Corey Brock of MLB.com)
But there are options. Ross doesn’t need to be excluded from Tuesday’s game. If he doesn’t pitch on Sunday, this isn’t an issue.
Bud Black should adjust the Padres’ rotation to allow Ross to play in the game. And here’s why.
Playing in the All-Star Game is a big honor. The vast majority of major league players never get to be All-Stars (although the rule changes are adding more and more each year). Making the team once doesn’t mean that you will ever make it again. This may be Ross’ only opportunity. And he might skip playing to pitch against the Dodgers in the 95th game of a season in which the Padres are long shots to make the playoffs. Tyson Ross earned this opportunity. Don’t send him to the game without a chance to play.
I understand the flip side of this argument. What if the Padres do change the rotation, and end up missing the playoffs by a single game at the end of the season? Isn’t the chance to play in the playoffs even more important than honoring someone in a meaningless exhibition game?
Three things are wrong with that argument. First, if the Padres do somehow end up missing the playoffs by a game, you can’t blame that on one mid-season starting pitching decision. It would be impossible to know how things would have gone differently if the change hadn’t been made. It would be pure conjecture.
Second, the Padres are, at this point, not a favorite to make the playoffs. Fangraphs was showing San Diego as having a 2% chance to see postseason action.
And third, we don’t get enough chances to honor people’s achievements in life. We should not cheapen this opportunity to honor Tyson Ross by preventing him from playing when there is another option.
Changing the rotation a bit to honor one of your players is not an unreasonable way to do business.
Let Tyson Ross play in the All-Star Game.