Just realized that we're hitting the All-Star Break without me writing a single column about the 2005 baseball season. Inexcusable. Since I watch every Red Sox game and follow the American League intently, let's hand out some midseason awards for one of the weirdest AL seasons in recent memory:
The Brock Landers/Chest Rockwell Award for "Most Entertaining Subplot"
Seriously, what's been more fun than trying to figure out which guys were forced to stop juicing in the post-BalcoGate Era? When certain hitters started off slow this season (Steve Finley, Sammy Sosa, Hideki Matsui, Travis Hafner, Adrian Beltre, Aubrey Huff, even Manny Ramirez) everyone was thinking the same thing: Steroid user! Steroid user! Steroid user! There was something strangely enjoyable about pointing the finger, the same way it's fun to argue about Lindsay Lohan's breasts. If a certain slugger lost a noticeable amount of weight (like Sammy), even better. At this point, I don't even care if I'm right. I just assume everyone's guilty until proven innocent.
(On the flip side, during his unexpected power surge this season, Brian Roberts normally would have been compared to Brady Anderson, Bret Boone and every East German swimmer from the 70's but since we have steroids testing now, he's having the first question-free breakout season since Michael Jackson was considered "cool.")
The Doctor J Award for "Guy who should always be in the All-Star Game no matter what kind of season he's having."
Look, you know I hate the Yankees. It's well-documented. But you can't have an All-Star Game without Jeter. You just can't. The NBA mentality should come into play here -- make sure your most visible stars are there on All-Star Weekend no matter how well they're playing. I always love when people get all holier-than-thou about picking an All-Star team, like anyone's going to remember in five years that Jose Guillen got shafted. Who cares?
The following guys should make the team every year unless they're trapped under something: Tejada, Guerrero, Manny, Jeter, A-Rod, Big Papi, Rivera, Clemens, Pedro, Ichiro, Schilling, Big Unit and Pujols. Those are the 13 biggest stars in baseball. You can't have the All-Star Game without any of them. Every December, we could even form a committee to determine if anyone from the Top 13 should lose their spot because they went Piazza on us, leaving us no choice but to take them off the list. And maybe next December, we could add a couple of guys who made The Leap -- like Mark Teixeira, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.
Of course, we have a better chance of dividing the Gaza Strip than coming up with a fool-proof All-Star selection method. Every time it seems like they're headed in the right direction, something happens like "Shea Hillenbrand over Derek Jeter" and it completely undermines the whole process. So why not protect the stars who absolutely have to be in the game? Do you really think the NBA would ever knock KG out of the 2006 All-Star Game, or the NFL would ever stand in Peyton Manning's way when he was gunning for yet another Pro Bowl MVP? Come on.