From the Department of You Never Know, here's Rob Dibble yesterday:
It all depends on which camp you fall in with. The All-Star Game, even with 34-man rosters, the new DH rule, and the re-entry rule, even with all the crazy changes, is still a game that counts for home-field advantage in the World Series. In my own opinion, if you want to win the game, not just go on merit or mania, Strasburg should 100% be on that roster.
I have been around pro baseball since 1983, and Stephen Strasburg is the most amazing thing I have witnessed in those 27 years - from his talent to his appeal and likeability.
Finally, if the All-Star Game is truly about the fans - and I'm as big a fan as anyone - Stephen Strasburg should be in Anaheim come the second week of July.
Actually, while it might depend on "which camp you fall in," I think most everyone falls into one of the camps that says Strasburg should pitch in the All-Star Game. I mean, assuming (as Charlie Manuel qualifies) that Strasburg keeps pitching brilliantly over the next couple of weeks.
When this "Is Strasburg an All-Star?" meme started popping up yesterday, I had the reaction I have to most controversial questions: a sort of waffling ambivalence. First I see it this way, then I see it that way, and I just sort of let the thing percolate instead of rushing to judgment (granted, on the Web if you wait more than 15 minutes you're a glacier, so "not rushing" means an hour of percolation, at most).
But the percolating essentially stopped when I read Dibble, because suddenly I couldn't imagine a good reason for not making Strasburg an All-Star.
Who's the All-Star game for? Bill James asked this question some years ago, in the course of addressing questions about the voting process, and we're still debating the answer.
In this case, though, I don't think the answer matters much.
Is the All-Star Game for the fans?
I have to think that most baseball fans -- and especially the casual fans who really make the sport commercially viable -- would love to see Strasburg on TV; for many fans, it would be their first time.
Is the All-Star Game for the players?
I have to think that most of the game's best players would welcome the chance to see Strasburg pitch, in the flesh; for most of them, it would be their first time. And I have to hope that American League hitters would welcome the chance to bat against Strasburg, since the very essence of the All-Star Game is pitting the best against the best (and there's little doubt that Strasburg's already one of the best in the National League).
Is the All-Star Game for Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball's broadcast partners?
I have to think that the ratings go up, at least a tick or two, if Strasburg's a part of the festivities. Or, to be more precise, they don't dip as much as usual, in the later innings, if there's a reasonable chance that Strasburg will be making an appearance.
The All-Star Game definitely is not for National League managers ... but if you're All-Star manager Charlie Manuel -- or for that matter, the manager of any other contending National League team -- don't you want the guy who throws 100 miles an hour in your bullpen?
If I'm an American League manager, I'm militating against letting a rookie starter with a few dozen major league innings into the biggest game of the summer.
If I'm anyone else, I don't see how you keep the kid out.