Much ink has been spilled and airtime devoted to the question of whether Strasburg deserves to go to Anaheim. Well, frankly, it doesn't matter worth a damn if he deserves it.
Dan Steinberg has a nice little rundown of current and former pros' thoughts on the matter, and the prevailing sentiment is that he doesn't belong at the All-Star Game. He's only got five starts under his belt, and will only make one more before rosters are announced on Monday. By any account, the body of work isn't there yet. But, really, who cares if he earned it or not?
Did Jeff Keppinger or Kelly Johnson earn their inevitable spots? Or did they just happen to be having decent years for terrible teams?
Every team's got to have a representative (stupid All-Star rule #1), so why not Strasburg? Really, when you boil it down, the only person on the face of the earth who shouldn't want Strasburg to make the team is Matt Capps.
Charlie Manuel should want him on that mound. If this game really counts, which MLB so desperately wants us to believe it does, Strasburg's your guy. If you want to give the Phillies a shot at homefield advantage in the World Series, I can't think of many other people you'd want to give you two innings against the AL's best hitters. Maybe five starts isn't much of a sample size, but a 1.01 WHIP and a 48:7 K:BB ratio say he's one of the best pitchers on the planet at this very moment.
The fans should want him on that mound, and all evidence says they do. Nationals attendance and TV ratings spike when he starts, and not just in DC. The Indians had a cart devoted solely to selling Strasburg gear, and that was in Cleveland. The fans aren't allowed to vote for pitchers (stupid All-Star rule #2), but if they were, I guarantee you there'd be a lot more punched holes next to his name than next to Ubaldo Jiménez's or Josh Johnson's. Their numbers are better, but they're not nearly as sexy picks.
Bud Selig should want him on that mound, because...well, what does Bud want? What is the purpose of the All-Star Game anyway? That's actually a really good question. Maybe it's a reward for the best players, although most would rather have three days at home than fly to Anaheim in mid-July. Maybe it's a chance to showcase the league's top talent, although that's no longer an issue with so many national broadcasts.
No, let's be cynical, and say that the All-Star Game is another way to make money. It must be, with the size of FOX's TV contract, and the high price of ads during the game. So, you want to make money by drawing viewers, and I can think of a surefire way to do that.
I don't watch the All-Star game religiously. I'll watch every home run derby, sure, but the actual game itself is generally anticlimactic. No one's trying that hard, it's rarely a close game, and the constant substitutions keep it from resembling real baseball. They need a draw.
Strasburg is that draw. There's a reason all of his starts have been on national television. I've never willingly watched a Nats game in my life until he got called up. If you tell me, that Stephen Strasburg is going to be facing the best hitters in the American League on July 13, well, I'm going to check it out.
And that's why he should start the game. I don't want to hear that he might come in in the sixth inning for a few batters, and face the manager's third string selections. I won't tune in just for the chance that, after two hours, I might get to see him face Ty Wigginton and John Buck.
But tell me, that at 8:05 pm, I'm guaranteed to see Strasburg test his stuff against Longoria, Cano, Mauer and Jeter, and I'll be there, in front of my TV, waiting — and watching the commercials.
So enough about the debate over whether Strasburg deserves it. We deserve Strasburg.