Fink Thinks: Rounding Up the All-Stars
It wasn’t Joe Girardi’s first thought after watching his club defeat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the 2009 American League Championship Series. But after earning a World Series berth last October, the Yankees skipper earned the right to manage during Major League Baseball’s 81st annual Midsummer Classic in Anaheim.
Eight months later Joe’s All-Star roster, almost set, includes six familiar faces. With Baseball’s best record, the Bombers are represented well, as Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and Mariano Rivera were each named All-Stars on Independence Day.
In being selected, Jeter and Cano will become the second Yankees’ middle infield tandem to start such an event together. The only other Bombers’ double-play duo to do so was Willie Randolph and Bucky Dent in 1980 and 1981, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Both popular picks, Jeter and Cano each received over four million fan votes during the season’s first half. The only others to eclipse the four million mark were Joe Mauer of Minnesota and St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols, each of whom are reigning MVPs.
All-Star starting pitchers CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes are each enjoying excellent first halves. In earning their 10th wins of the year in June, they, along with rotation mate Andy Pettitte, formed the fourth Yankee trio in the last 50 years to win as many games prior to the All-Star Break, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Nominated out of the pen, Mariano Rivera joined Jeter as the only active players to make at least 11 All-Star teams with his current club. Furthermore, the duo also tied legendary backstop Bill Dickey for the fifth-most selections in franchise history. Trailing only Mickey Mantle (20), Yogi Berra (18), Joe DiMaggio (13) and Elston Howard (12), Mo and Jeter joined some good company.
In going to Anaheim, Alex Rodriguez will be participating in his 13th All-Star affair, this time as a reserve infielder. While his home run totals are down, A-Rod ranks third on the Junior Circuit with 62 RBI.
With a half dozen representatives, the Bombers have their best All-Star showing since 2004, when Jeter, Rivera, Javier Vazquez and A-Rod, plus former Yankees Jason Giambi, Tom Gordon, Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui made the Midsummer Classic.
The already impressive Yankee presence may actually increase before week’s end. Currently eligible for the 34th and final AL roster spot is outfielder Nick Swisher, who is enjoying a career year of his own. Fans can vote for Nick, until 4:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon, on http://www.yankees.com.
Mobile voting is also available exclusively on Sprint, Nextel and Boost capable phones, as fans can text the word ‘Vote’ to 1122 to receive the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint ballot.
Southpaw Andy Pettitte is tied with Phil Hughes with a league-best .833 winning percentage. If Andy is added to the roster, it will be the result of a new rule, implemented to prevent pitching injuries. The regulation, enacted this year, prohibits those who throw the Sunday before the break from appearing in the All-Star affair. Said hurlers, without losing their ‘All-Star’ designation, would be replaced by another worthy candidate. Following the Yankee game on July 4, Joe Girardi strongly suggested that Andy might make the cut in lieu of Sabathia, who is scheduled to start Sunday in Seattle.
‘I thought CC was well-deserving and Andy is well-deserving. And I hate the fact that one guy wouldn’t make it. So in this case, we could have two-lefthanders in Anaheim,’ Girardi said.
The move, still unofficial, could come ‘as soon as one pitch is thrown on Sunday,’ Girardi said.