While the selection process for the All-Star Game is prone to dubious selections and oversights (hey 2009) it’s hard to argue any Mariners are getting snubbed. Ben Gamel, Jarrod Dyson, and Mitch Haniger have all been excellent, of course. The latter has missed time, however, and the first two are overshadowed by an AL outfield including Aaron Judge, George Springer, and Mookie Betts, not to mention a still-injured Mike Trout. The rest of the lineup hasn’t made much of a case and the pitching staff is mostly either doing rehab or in Tacoma. It’s disappointing when your team doesn’t produce many All-Stars, partially because it suggests your team doesn’t have many good players. It also limits the interest in the festivities of the All-Star Weekend. 2012 and 2013 saw Félix Hernández twice selected as an All-Star, with Hisashi Iwakuma joining him in 2013, but due to their pitching schedules fans knew neither would play. Nelson Cruz currently looks likely to be a starter, and would be in line for a couple at-bats. Should we want him to? And should we want any of the Mariners fringe contenders like Canó or Jean Segura to participate?
The Case Against
In a baseball sense, the answer has to be no. The game is in Miami, over 3,200 miles away, in the furthest possible MLB stadium from Safeco Field. The Mariners finish up the first half of the season at home against Oakland in the afternoon on Sunday, July 9th, then will begin again in the Central Time Zone at the White Sox in Chicago.
While it’s not a full coast-to-coast-to-coast yo-yoing, essentially adding an extra East Coast road trip is not the best way to rest Nelson’s tight back/hamstrings/quads/ corporeal form. Once he gets to Miami, there will be festivities, a derby, and a couple at-bats against some of the NL’s best. Even if Canó and Cruz do not end up there together and Cruz arrives solely for the game, every swing is precious to the aging slugger’s back. a full four or five days of rest could be monumental in terms of allowing the aged Mariners core to reenergize. Canó has looked diminished since returning from his quad injury, Cruz hasn’t homered since June 4th and has had explicit instructions not to push himself on the basepaths, and Jean Segura has similar doctor’s orders to limit himself when running.
The Mariners have recieved as much production as they could have dreamed of from their rookies and supporting cast, but as a fringey playoff team at the halfway point they’ll need their stars to shine down the stretch. Rest is the best pathway to that.
The Case For
Exhibitions are weird and entertaining by nature. Barnstorming tours brought baseball to corners of the country and world that would otherwise never sniff MLB action. Spring Training drags on into eternity but those initial games allow for wonderful moments, like Leonys Martín homering off of Clayton Kershaw. The Space Needle itself was born out of an Expo, as were Vladimir Guerrero, Pedro Martinez, and Randy Johnson. If we are here for entertainment then there are few moments as uniquely piquing as seeing the best in the world of baseball unified for a few days. Interleague play allows many of the matchups to be slightly less mythical than they used to be. As someone without MLB.tv or a job that would allow me to watch baseball for a living, however, the opportunity to see Félix Hernàndez face off against some of the best in the NL or watch Ichiro hit an inside-the-park-homer off
the best the NL had to offer Chris Young in 2014 2007 was scintillating. The Home Run Derby still is appointment television for me, and the All-Star Game itself ends up pulling me in as well.
Every year I find myself tuning in, regional sport be damned, to see how the Mariners’ best will represent Seattle with the whole country watching. In 107 total PA’s, the Mariners have slashed .252/.299/.402, roughly the same line as Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis this year who boasts an 85 wRC+. But just as in their long history, while the Mariners have failed to find sustained success, they have had unforgettable moments. Ichiro’s inside-the-parker and his infield single off Randy Johnson at Safeco on a grounder to first base.
Ken Griffey Jr.’s opposite field laser off of Greg Maddux.
Randy Johnson terrifying a lifetime .300 hitter into curling up into a ball and hoping he lived.
Nelson Cruz and Robinson Canó and the Mariners vibrant core are ours, but the world should have them. Canó’s respect and influence is unparalleled among active Latin players, and has a great deal to do with Cruz’s enthusiasm to be here, Jean Segura’s extension, and the development and comfort of the young players on this team. They deserve to be celebrated and remembered and shared.
If you vote for the All-Star Game, do you want:
This poll is closed
Nelson Cruz, and no other Mariners
Nelson Cruz, Robinson Canó, Jean Segura, and anyone on the team who is having a good season
All of the Mariners, as many as I can stuff down MLB’s East Coast Biased gullet
No Mariners, let them rest
No Mariners, none are deserving (aka I am a Rays fan and love Corey Dickerson)