This year’s All-Star game shone with promise for the boys on the South Side for one simple reason: No pitchers. Because as any experienced baseball watcher knows; pitchers can only ruin things.
Phil Humber was devoured by piranhas last week, making him ineligible to be added to the AL roster, and helping the Sox avoid the gruesome fate of having their representative give up the game-winning hit in their only meaningful national exposure. Season saved, ladies and gents!
Sure, there was a chance that the White Sox two position player All-Stars could have embarrassed their fan base. Carlos Quentin could have disgraced the team with some outfield blunder, or Paul Konerko could have gotten thrown out at home trying to score from 3rd on a double, but the chances were far more remote. Position players can hide, and pitchers can’t. They could try, but that would only make things a lot worse.
Maybe this strikes you as an overly cynical approach, and perhaps the White Sox fanbase should be yearning for unforgettable All-Star triumphs in unison. But me, I save my hopes and dreams for regular-season contests. For exhibition games that would potentially grant home field advantage in the World Series to my favorite team that currently sports a losing home record, I save my anxiety and my irrational fears. Besides, all the other players they’re facing are really really good, and what the hell more do you want out of Konerko, anyway?
So on Tuesday night, not only did Matt Thornton NOT come into the game and retire 1 of 3 batters face and yield an RBI double to a left-hander, but no Sox players got hurt. An injury would really stink, seeing as it’s the two best hitters on the team and all. Moreover, neither Konerko nor Quentin stood out as being particularly awful or unfit to be there, because the AL scored only one run on an Adrian Gonzalez solo HR. Maybe it would have been nice if Quentin hit that home run, but then he would have to run around all those bases. That’s quite the risk.
Better still, Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko got hearty cheers from the Arizona crowd for each having some kind of association to the state. Not everyone likes Arizona, and surely not everyone likes the White Sox, but they like each other. Friends are important, especially when you don’t have any.
Finally, both Quentin and Konerko reached base. Konerko worked a walk from Craig Kimbrel, and Carlos Quentin reached on a throwing error by Starlin Castro (Here’s to making the game next year as a 2nd baseman, Starlin!). Did you know that reaching on an error is slightly better for your wOBA than a single? No one’s ever going to calculate Carlos Quentin’s career wOBA in All-Star games because it would be a really stupid waste of time, but if they did, it’d be slightly higher than you’d expect.
Now, Paul Konerko did ground out to end the game with two runners in scoring position, which would have been another failure in a high-leverage situation for the White Sox if…you know, this was a real game.