Opinion Corner: Rookies, all-stars don’t mixGuys like Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish do not need to be elevated to Major League Baseball’s all-star status. That’s because guys like Darvish already have a current MLB status: rookie. When was the last time you heard a broadcaster say something to the effect of, “Jeter just simply made a rookie mistake right there,” during a baseball game?
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
Guys like Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish do not need to be elevated to Major League Baseball’s all-star status.
That’s because guys like Darvish already have a current MLB status: rookie.
When was the last time you heard a broadcaster say something to the effect of, “Jeter just simply made a rookie mistake right there,” during a baseball game?
You could insert any future hall of famer/all-star player in that scenario, and the result would still leave you scratching your head.
“The more games he gets under his belt, the better he’ll get. He’ll learn the nuances of life in the big leagues and grow more accustomed to situations like that, and that error (or bad pitch) won’t be reflected on the scoreboard.”
A rookie in the majors at the all-star break has roughly played three months of his MLB career. Three months.
I say roughly because he still could have played in a previous season and kept his rookie status if he had not seen the plate more than 130 times, pitched over 50 innings or had not been on the active 25-man roster for more than 45 days prior to Sept. 1.
But the point still is the dude hasn’t been around very long.
Darvish was one of two final selections to the American League’s all-star roster on Thursday, after 7.3 million fans voted him in. The Japanese transplant has toed the rubber just 16 times, going 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA and 117 strikeouts.
Those are certainly very solid numbers, but another pitcher comes to mind when I see those stats. A young rookie starter for the Minnesota Twins named Francisco Liriano.
Liriano was 12-3 with a 2.91 ERA when he was selected to the all-star game as a rookie in 2006. Frankie started four games in the 2005 season for a grand total of 19 starts as his name was lifted to all-star status.
Anybody who has watched Liriano the past few seasons would laugh if the word all-star was even mentioned around the cat now. Liriano was selected because he had a great three-month stretch.
The term “rookie” and the term “all-star” go together like oil and water. They’re conflicting terms. They don’t exactly suggest one couldn’t go with the other, but how does it make sense when they do?
Darvish said it best before and after his selection. He’d been against being voted to the all-star game all along because he knows he’s a guppy among some big fish and he’s only tossed 16 games.
He also knows the pressure will now be on him to perform. At the age of 25, he’ll be trying to live up to those expectations for a long, long time.
“If I am available to pitch and if I do get in the game, I’d like to display the best performance I can for the fans to enjoy,” Darvish said. “Do I still think I’m worthy or not? Personally I voted for (Chicago White Sox starter Jake) Peavy.”
Prior to this season, 93 rookies have been selected to the midsummer classic. That’s a relatively low number, considering next Tuesday’s all-star game in Kansas City is the 83rd annual.
The list does include some greats, such as DiMaggio, Bench and Carew, but then there’s an abundance of guys like Liriano, who if not for three good months would probably have never been named to an all-star roster.
Of course, Liriano’s Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow that resulted because of the end of that season certainly didn’t help his bid to achieve more all-star games. But his lackluster attitude and inability to work hard to speed up his recovery and improve his on-field performance has stained his legacy.
Those aren’t the traits typical all-stars possess.
At the end of the day, I would just like to see Major League Baseball consider rookies as ineligible to be selected as all-stars. If they truly are, they’ll be there someday, after their one and only rookie-season status has been lifted.
The flash-in-the-pans, the all-about-the-money guys and the pouters that some of these rookies turn into is a problem for me.
But it’s how the fans vote that counts, and let’s be honest about that. People love their teams, and if a guy is hitting balls over the fence, rookie or not, the all-star chants begin.
Most truly are deserving, but heck, I thought Minnesota’s Josh Willingham got snubbed by being left off the all-star roster this year. But that’s primarily because I’m a Twins guy.
Darvish will be joining a few other rookies on Tuesday — all of whom saw action last season — in the likes of Angels centerfielder Mike Trout, Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley and Athletics closer Ryan Cook.
They’ve all had a solid three months. Let’s hope muddling their rookie status with all-star status parlays into long, successful careers for these young men.
Like Darvish, it’s a burden I wouldn’t want to bear on my shoulders.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com