|Friday, July 12
Potential deadline deals plus some All-Star ideas
By Dave Campbell
Special to ESPN.com
Eyeing the Second Half
Two separate but related categories are involved. First, there are the needs of the contending teams. And second, there are the players who I see as being available to fill those needs in a potential trade (some of these names appear frequently since some teams have similar needs). We'll take a team-by-team tour by division in each league...
Needs: Assuming Matt Williams, Erubiel Durazo and Todd Stottlemyre all return from injury, the need is for an additional left-handed reliever.
Potentially Available: Left-handed relievers Dan Plesac (Phillies) or Ricardo Rincon (Indians).
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Needs: A starter or a first baseman who hits consistently. The Red Sox staff has question marks, since key guys like Pedro Martinez and John Burkett have had injury issues in recent years. At first, Tony Clark hasn't done much, while Brian Daubach is streaky -- he can carry a team for a week but is prone to slumps.
Potentially Available: At first, Thome (he'd be a perfect fit) or Palmeiro. For a starter, see list above under "St. Louis Cardinals."
New York Yankees
Chicago White Sox
If I Were The Skipper
But I would like to see a renewed passion for winning the game. The All-Star Game used to be a huge opportunity for bragging rights. I never played in the All-Star Game, but when I was a major-leaguer in the 1960s and '70s, the objective was to win the game. Players would talk about it. Willie Mays played the entire game several times, and all the big stars got at least three at-bats. Today, they're gone after two at-bats.
The American League hated it when the National League won 23 of 25 games from 1960-82 -- but oh, how the NL loved it! (There was one tie due to rain in 1961, and two games were played from 1959-62.) The AL won 11 of 14 going into this year, but the passion for who wins the game is no longer there. Up until the mid-'90s, I thought the All-Star Game was the best exhibition contest in any professional sport because both teams played to win. Since then, it's been more of a politically correct attempt to get everyone in the game.
In the long run, this year's outcome will be a blessing in disguise, a great wake-up call for baseball regarding the Midsummer Classic. This will force MLB to evaluate and overhaul the game.
In the Future: For starters, let's revive the emphasis on who wins the game (see above). But what can be done about extra-inning All-Star Games in today's climate of counting pitches and playing everyone?
Expanding the rosters to 12 pitchers would help. I also advocate adding a utility player from each league, an unsung player who usually doesn't get All-Star glory and who would play only if the game goes extra frames. But if a game goes, say, 12 innings and it's still tied, how about settling it with a Home Run Derby? I think that would be a fun way to decide it for the fans.
In effect, the All-Star Game could take a page from soccer. Even World Cup matches are decided by penalty kicks when a golden-goal overtime hasn't produced a winner.
But this would need to be an abbreviated Home Run Derby. Have each manager choose his five best power hitters. Give each hitter one swing, alternating between AL and NL. If it's still tied after those five hitters, have them keep going -- but this time in a sudden-death scenario until someone wins. And to expedite the process, have the same batting-practice pitcher for both teams (a neutral person could be designated before the game).
Perhaps not an ideal solution, but far better than leaving fans fit to be tied.
Editor's Note: All statistics are through Thursday's games. Dave Campbell, who was an infielder for eight seasons in the major leagues (1967-74), is an analyst for Baseball Tonight and ESPN Radio.