Wiedmer: All-Star process marred - not just for Hanson

Wiedmer: All-Star process marred - not just for Hanson

July 6th, 2011 by Mark Wiedmer in Sports - Columns

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson throws to Seattle Mariners' Adam Kennedy in the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 28, 2011, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The shock still hasn't worn off inside the Atlanta Braves locker room.

Not Casey-Anthony-found-not-guilty shocking, perhaps. After all, it's still baseball. It's only a game.

But that doesn't mean that Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson's omission from next week's All-Star game isn't a shocker to end all shockers within the narrow context of professional baseball.

Or would you ever expect a guy with a 2.52 earned run average - fourth best in the National League after Monday's 4-1 victory over Colorado - to be left off the All-Star roster?

Moreover, Hanson's 10th win of the year is tied for second best among NL starters, and his opponents' batting average of .193 tops the league.

Worse still, San Francisco and NL All-Star manager Bruce Bochy has three Giants pitchers on his roster but no room for Hanson, who beat San Fran 4-1 on the road back in April.

Does Bochy have no interest in retaining home field for another World Series, whether the Giants get a chance to repeat as World Series champs or not? Does he honestly think Hanson wouldn't help give the NL a better chance?

"He's an All-Star in all our books," Atlanta rookie Freddie Freeman said Monday night after his two homers left no doubt that Hanson would pick up his 10th win.

But unless another pitcher drops out to make room for him, Hanson will be staying home when the All-Stars play at Phoenix next Tuesday night. And If Casey Anthony's not guilty, all things are possible.

Still, this All-Star stuff needs to change. Especially if the All-Star winner is to gain home-field advantage for the most prestigious team championship anywhere - the World Series.

You think the NBA would let its All-Star game winner deliver home court in the finals to that conference's champ? You think the National Football League would let its Pro Bowl winner have some say over a Super Bowl site?

If MLB commissioner Bud Selig just absolutely, positively has to have some competition to decide who has home-field advantage for the World Series, why not tie it to interleague play? Schedule an odd number of games so there's no chance for a tie, then award home field for the Series based on which league wins the most interleague games.

Or go back to the way things used to be, when the All-Star game was supposed to be for fun on those occasions the punk Pete Rose wasn't running over catcher Ray Fosse to win the 1970 game for the NL. Just think what Rose might have done to Fosse if there had been home field for the Series on the line. Cover your eyes, kiddies.

Not that Braves third baseman Chipper Jones - who'll be making his seventh All-Star appearance - didn't have a wee bit of sympathy for Bochy, who's always been one of the game's good guys.

"He's in a tough spot," Jones said. "If he takes another team's pitchers who are in a pennant race, there will be guys saying that he's hurting that team by using their pitchers in an All-Star game. He also wants to make sure his own pitchers know how much he thinks of them. It isn't easy, but we should have had more guys make it."

Still, as 2010 All-Star MVP and Braves catcher Brian McCann said after earning his first All-Star start in his sixth appearance: "We're [as a staff] No. 1 in ERA. The numbers are all there. To have some of the guys who have contributed to that not be on the team is disappointing."

It is not disappointing to have pitcher Jair Jurrjens make it. Or reliever Jonny Venters.

And Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez isn't quite ready to write off Hanson's and rookie closer Craig Kimbrel's chances.

"I think there is a chance those guys will get in because guys back out or can't pitch," he said.

If nothing else, perhaps Hanson will defeat the Giants again when San Fran visits Hotlanta in mid-August, that outcome later costing the Giants a chance to defend their world championship.

Hey, stranger things have happened of late.