NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez is a 14-time American League All-Star, but he badly wants No. 15. While he doesn't buy it would validate his comeback, he is willing to go to Cincinnati any way he can.
"I would walk there, like the guy who walked to Yankee Stadium," Rodriguez told ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews. "I would walk to Cincinnati."
Presuming Rodriguez is clean -- a huge presumption, despite constant testing -- it is a pretty crazy story that he is even in the All-Star conversation considering his two hip surgeries, year off and a date with his 40th birthday this month.
"From where I came from just a year ago, I mean it’s every player’s dream to make the All-Star Game," Rodriguez said of the event, which is less than two weeks away. "I’m not exception to that. Especially with all that I’ve been through, to be able to be included in something like that, it would be incredibly special."
So let's take a look how good his chances are to make the AL team.
Who are the contenders to the All-Star DH spots?
Nelson Cruz is leading the fan voting with a slight edge over Kendrys Morales at DH. Since the Royals' fans fixing of the ballot has apparently been rectified, let's suppose that Cruz will win the starting job.
Rodriguez, when the last voting was released, was in fifth place among DHs. He trailed Cruz, Morales, Edwin Encarnacion and Victor Martinez by a large margin. Rodriguez had nearly 2 million votes, while Cruz was near 9 million. Still, not bad for Rodriguez considering the expectations for this season.
But, bottom line, he has no chance to go when the fans' vote is announced Sunday.
Does he deserve a reserve spot?
Well, you sure could make a great case. Prince Fielder has been the best DH in baseball this season. His OPS is .932. Fielder has 12 homers and 49 RBIs. The only other DH with an OPS near .900 is Rodriguez. He is at .887. His 15 homers were the most among DHs. His 45 RBIs were just behind Morales (50), Fielder and Houston's Evan Gattis (49).
Fielder was on the fan ballot as a first baseman, but he was on the players' ballot as a DH. The players' pick most of the reserves. It is very close, but there is a pretty strong case that, statistically, Rodriguez deserves to be in Cincy.
Why he should be there?
Love him or hate him, Rodriguez is instant entertainment. He has done some despicable things in his career -- and some harmless that have been treated as despicable -- but the All-Star game is supposed to be for who performed the best in the first half of the season. Rodriguez, amazingly enough, is in the conversation. With Pete Rose participating in the All-Star game, Rodriguez could co-headline the festivities. The two are very much alike in their love of their game and their unfortunate standing in it because of their own misjudgments.
Though it is difficult to call what Rodriguez is doing "redemption," because that implies that he was wronged in some way, it would be pretty sweet for him to be at yet another All-Star game.
How does the rest of the voting work?
After the fans' votes for the starters are tallied, the players choose nine backup position players and eight pitchers. Though there hasn't been much backlash against Rodriguez from other players, he did sue the Players Association. That can't help him. It is doubtful they vote Rodriguez in; especially with Fielder on the ballot as a DH.
The manager then selects seven players (five pitchers and two position players). It is very doubtful All-Star manager Ned Yost takes another DH in an NL park.
Yost, if he likes drama, could put Rodriguez on the Final Five ballot, which allows the fans to vote online for one player to go to Cincy. This would be awesome publicity and, for Rodriguez, an accomplishment in its own right.
On top of all this, does baseball really want Rodriguez there? Yes, there has been a thawing of relations between a well-behaved Rodriguez and new commissioner, Rob Manfred, but does baseball really want the event to be all about Rodriguez and Rose. That seems doubtful.
So Rodriguez is in the conversation, but it would still be surprising if he is ultimately picked. Who knows, though? Rodriguez has had a pretty shocking season so far. It would be entertaining if it continued.