Baseball, more than any other sport, is a gold mine of stupid arguments with no clear winners. Whether Yasiel Puig is an All Star is just the latest opportunity for people to yell at each other.
Putting aside the ridiculous "deserves it" argument for a contest won primarily by the teams with the best ballot-stuffers, the six million other ways a player can be named to the game (Puig is part of The Final Vote and if that doesn't work he could be an injury replacement like Bryce Harper last year) and, finally, the pseudo-significance of the game itself—putting all that stuff aside—ask yourself this question: do I want to see Yasiel Puig play in a baseball game?
Yes. Yes I do. You see, I am going to watch the All-Star Game. There's no good reason, really, but it's a baseball game of bare-minimum importance in the middle of July—I've watched a shitload of games just like it, with the only difference being the number and quality of the names involved. What's more, because of the nature of this particular July game, I could potentially see Yasiel Puig play baseball at a reasonable hour—something us east-coasters don't often get to do—with Joey Votto and against Felix Hernandez. There's got to be some high degree-of-difficulty mental gymnastics at play to consider this a bad thing.
It was Jonathan Papelbon who gave voice to the dried-up sticks in the mud who want everything Done The Right Way. Baseball isn't a fun diversion and the national pastime, it's serious business where you must pay your dues and take your lumps and genuflect at the altar of Form Over Substance. In the fan-voted All Star Game, you can't make it until you deserve it and you definitely don't deserve until you at least play a certain number of games. How many games? We don't know; more than 31, anyway.
But not really, of course, because Puig will almost assuredly find his way to the All-Star Game. If he doesn't win the Final Vote, he'll be an injury replacement. This is a loophole everyone seems OK with, which makes the resistance to Puig's candidacy in the first place a singularly Baseball thing. Think of the Hall Of Fame voters who don't vote for a no-doubt candidate because we can't have this guy voted in with 100 percent of the vote. Puig will make the All-Star Game but with some asterisk. You're here, but you didn't technically earn it.
It's an empty gesture that people watching the All-Star Game for its intended purpose are unconcerned with. Even though every single game is televised, there are only so many hours in the day. It's hard enough to watch the 162 games your own team plays, let alone all the others. That is the intended purpose. It's not about handing out gold wristwatches to guys for meeting some unquantifiable benchmark of deservedness, it's a chance to watch a barely-relevant July game with some fresh faces. Who knows, they might even be pretty good at baseball.
Photo credit: Getty