Maddon: Wakefield deserving

Posted July 14, 2009, at 12:19 a.m.

“He deserved it for the body of his work as well as for the first half of this year. On either basis he deserved to go.”

Those were the words of Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon a week ago as we talked about the naming of Tim Wakefield of the Red Sox to the All-Star roster.

That decision was Maddon’s since he had to fill eight openings on the American League team. He chose five pitchers, and Kevin Youkilis of the Sox, Ben Zobrist of the Rays and Adam Jones from the Orioles.

“I’m ready to take my licks,” Maddon said. “Every year there are players who deserve to go, but there’s just no room.”

He’ll get no arguments on the Wakefield pick.

Maddon noted there is a difference in selecting players for All-Star games where the designated hitter is used and those, as is the case this year, where the pitchers hit.

“You need versatility in the players chosen,” said Maddon. “When double switches might be made and pitchers run into trouble early, you need to have options.

“What if you have to pull a pitcher early for a pinch hitter who’s only appearance will be that at bat?” asked Maddon. “Who is that going to be?”

Those issues were part of the reason Maddon selected Youkilis, Zobrist and Jones. All of them can be moved around in the field. “All-Star versatility is what I call it,” said Maddon.

There are 25 first-time All-Stars of the 66 on the two rosters. Interestingly, seven of the 13 pitchers on the National League staff and five on the AL staff are All-Stars for the first time.

Worth noting are the players selected by their peers. That is always a sign of respect and recognition of a quality first half.

The AL players selected catcher Victor Martinez of Cleveland, first baseman Justin Morneau of the Twins, second baseman Aaron Hill of the Jays, shortstop Jason Bartlett of the Rays, third baseman Michael Young with Texas, and outfielders Carl Crawford of the Rays, Curtis Granderson of the Tigers and Torii Hunter of the Angels.

All should see action in Tuesday’s game.

The 80th All-Star game will see the NL try to end a 12-game unbeaten streak by the AL. That has gotten to a point of embarrassment.

Again, the game will decide the home-field advantage for the World Series, and again that is unfair and inappropriate.

Whatever may be said about the quality of players, this is still an exhibition game with pomp and ceremony.

There is nothing wrong with that at all, but such a game should not be the deciding factor for such an important home-field advantage.

With the rosters expanded to 33 rather quietly by MLB after years of calls for such action, there should be enough players to avoid the deadly tie that came when all the pitchers were used up in 2002.

Enjoy the grand show of MLB’s “Summer Classic.”

bdnsports@bangordailynews.net

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