It's time once again for the most pointless game of the baseball season, the All-Star game. Oh yeah, the winner's league gets home field advantage in the World Series. That gripe is one among others for my "reasons to hate the All-Star game" list, but that'll be noted some other time and place.
Coming into Sunday, the Rays had 2 players that are legitimately putting up All-Star calibur numbers. Carl Crawford is a no-brainer and the 2nd is Team Ace Scott Kazmir.
Crawford is hitting .318, with 12 HRs and 27 Stolen bases going along with a Gold Glove calibur glove.
Kazmir is already has 9 wins for the season, to go along with 108 strikeouts and a vast improvement in control.
Which one of the kids actually got the All-Star nod?
Not taking anything from Kazmir, seeing that he's vastly improved from his rookie year and already has a great reputation as one of the best young pitchers in the game at the tender age of 22. Yet, I've got to say that Crawford got totally snubbed. It's not like putting 2 Devil Rays in the All-Star game is one of the 7 deadly sins, seeing that it's going to eventually happen with all the talent we have on the roster and in our farm system. Major League Baseball and it's fans(nix that, again with a gripe for another time) are going to have to get used to it, whether they like it or not. If the Pirates, who have a worse record than us, can get multiple selections...why can't we?
Normally, Devil Rays All-Star selections don't even matter because they have to get 1 guaranteed player in and usually it's a roster-filler who doesn't get to play much or at all. Out of the last 3 selections, only Crawford has set foot on the field during a game. Honestly, Baez and Carter's elections were jokes to me. Will Kazmir even play is unknown, but knowing Ozzie's competitive spirit...I'd put my money that Kaz will get to pitch anywhere from 1/3rd of an inning to 1 full inning.
However, I think that this selection and snub will do the Rays more good than bad.
Maddon feels that Kazmir's selection will turn into a huge confidence booster for our young starter. He feels that Kazmir will be come to the mound pumped, knowing that his peers think of him as a dominant pitcher in baseball. Kazmir will have a swagger that is just unheard of for Rays Fans.
Now you're probably asking me, how does the snubbing of CC do more good than bad?
My belief is that CC will become more focused. Focused on proving to himself, fans and his peers that he deserved to be selected. Hell, Grady Sizemore and Gary Matthews Jr., of all people, got selected over him. This increased focus will, in turn, lead to improved play in all facets of his game. Pitchers won't want to face him and they won't want him to get on base. Basically, they'll be damned if they pitch to him and they'll be damn if they don't pitch to him. My feeling is that, if you can get into a pitcher's head like this...you've already won the battle. Thankfully for us, we've got this newly angered and focused dynamo under contract for another 5-6 years. Victory is ours!
So in the 2nd half, our opponents are going to face a more focused CC and a uber-confident Kazmir. Doesn't that just make you giddy?