By John Hickey
Saturday, July 6th, 2013 at 4:56 pm in 2013 regular season.
Maybe it’s that West Coast night games don’t get much play back East.
Maybe it’s that ESPN doesn’t show enough highlights of the Oakland A’s.
Maybe it’s that other teams have a couple of great players and the A’s only have a whole bunch of good players.
Whatever the reason, the American League All-Star team announced Saturday is a slap in the face. Not just to the A’s or to the East Bay. But it’s a slap in the face to putting winning teams on the field
Bartolo Colon, whose 11-3 record and 2.78 ERA made him an obvious choice to be an All-Star, was in fact picked to the team. None of his teammates were.
The A’s came into Saturday with the second-most wins (51) in the league, but there is no demonstration of that fact in the All-Star roster.
The Seattle Mariners have two pitchers on the team, Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. The Chicago White Sox have two pitchers on the team, Chris Sale and Jesse Crain. The Texas Rangers have two pitchers on the team, Yu Darvish and Joe Nathan. The Detroit Tigers have two pitchers on the team, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
The A’s, who have more wins than any of those teams, have one pitcher on the roster. Surely there has to be room for a closer who is 22-for-22 in save tries with a 1.82 ERA.
You could make a case that Verlander, one of the best pitchers in the game, could be left off. After all, his 3.54 ERA suggests this isn’t his best year. Crain could have been skipped, despite his 0.74 ERA, because he’s a setup man with exactly zero saves. Even Nathan, with his 1.43 ERA could have been left off because, unlike Balfour, he’s blown some saves.
Small wonder that Balfour was distinctly annoyed that he was left off.
“It’s not always good enough to be perfect,’’ the 35-year-old closer said. “It’s a little frustrating playing for a long time and putting up good numbers. But I guess if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.’’
To the bigger picture, having just one Oakland player on the team, Balfour seemed flummoxed.
“I don’t know what to say about that,’’ he said.
Donaldson had said all along that he thought his chances weren’t that good because the league is loaded with good third basemen, but his teammates seemed to go on the assumption that their offensive leader, a potential Gold Glove candidate, would be going to Citi Field come July 16.
Like Balfour and Melvin, Donaldson wasn’t happy that the team got just one pick. Unlike Balfour, Donaldson was able to vocalize his feelings.
“I’m more disappointed that we only had one player,’’ Donaldson said. “We have one of the best teams in baseball. We deserved more. You’ve got Balfour. And you’ve got Jed (Lowrie), one of the top hitting shortstops in the game.
“There is more than one guy here who is an All-Star.’’
Not so. Neither Balfour or Donaldson are among the so-call “the Final Vote,’’ – the group of five players who can still be voted onto the roster as fans are asked to pick one deserving player to be a late addition.
It’s possible that injuries and workloads will lead to one or more of the current AL roster dropping out and clearing space for either Balfour or Donaldson.
But that’s not really the point.
The point is the process is intrinsically flawed when teams like Kansas City (41-43) get two position players on the AL All-Star roster and the A’s (51-37) get none.