In 1881 the future National League wanted to upgrade its image and target a more upscale fan base by doubling ticket prices, banning gambling, and outlawing alcohol sales. Several team owners who happened to be brewers refused to accept the new rules and banded together to form what would eventually become the American League. The National League attempted to discredit the new league by dubbing it the Beer and Whiskey League. This, of course only made the new league more popular. Duh!

Thursday, July 08, 2004


I'm not entertaining any arguments about whether Joe Torre is a good manager or not (because no one else gets to manage AL All-Stars all year). I suppose when you work in an inherently corrupt city like New York, where things like garbage disposals in sinks get outlawed in order to keep the mob-run waste hauling business healthy, you find ways to, as they say, manufacture runs.

Predictably, yet another Yankee, Hideki Matsui, is on the All-Star squad. Let's see: Torre chose as the only representative of the then-first place White Sox a guy, Esteban Loaiza, who is not having an All-Star season (8-4, 4.37 ERA, 68 SO in 115.1 IP); Then, he put two guys, Konerko and Thomas, who are having All-Star seasons on the final vote ballot to compete with each other for votes.

Thomas is the obvious All-Star. He leads the AL in walks (64), is second in OPS (.997) and has 18 home runs. He's also going to the Hall of Fame, which warrants mention only because people seem to think that getting in on one's reputation (Sosa, Jeter) is okay if you have a proven track record. If you're of the camp that, because you don't particularly like Big Frank and think he whines too much, thinks that thefore he's not a HOF-er, consider that the top four 100-RBI, 100-walk seasons, all time, belong to Gehrig, Ruth, Bonds and Thomas.

Anyway, so you say the ASG is in an NL park this year, and since Frank doesn't really play 1st base anymore, he shouldn't be in. Fine. Konerko has 21 homers (good enough for 4th in the AL) and a .924 OPS (11th). Which leads us to H. Matsui, who shouldn't even have been on this ballot in the first place. No offense to Matsui, who is a fine player, but his .880 OPS puts him at 19th in the AL, and he has fewer homers than Jose Valentin. Jose Valentin, incidentally, who is always being criticized for his defense, has not allowed a single inside-the-park home run this season (Matsui allowed one in Los Angeles on a play that your grandma could have made). But, Matsui has name recognition (though Chicagoans are still confused about the whole "Matt Suhey" thing), the entire nation of Japan voting for him online (and Torre knows this) and has the benefit of not having a teammate on the same ballot.

The White Sox have a Japanese player, too, Shingo Takatsu, who rattled off a 26 and 2/3 scoreless innings streak this season. That would qualify as remarkable, whereas Matsui's mediocre season would not. Whatever. Joe, next time just name all the Yanks you want as reserves and make a joke that's actually funny out of the final vote.