Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jason Varitek and the All Star Game

Guess what? We get it. Jason Varitek does not deserve to be an All Star this year. Quit crying about it because it won't change.

Guess what else though? I've got a fearless prediction and that is that Jason Varitek has the 2008 All Star Game MVP Award coming his way. Crazy? Yeah. But remember Terry Steinbach? Or more accurately, remember Terry Steinbach who won the 1988 All Star game MVP? The Steinbach situation is actually incredibly similar to what is going on with Varitek right now.

Neither deserved to be on the team (Steinbach's 79 first half OPS+ was only slightly better than Varitek's 71 OPS+ to date this year) but both made it based on varying degrees of legitimate shadiness. For Varitek it was the good old "player vote" and for Terry Steinbach it was some serious ballot stuffing on the part of Oakland fans. More impressively, this was back when you actually had to stuff the ballot boxes. And, because he was voted in Steinbach got the starting nod! Doesn't that make his situation almost more egregious than what is going on with 'Tek?

I really give Oakland fans props for this because this was good old fashioned ballot stuffing. No online voting back then. Just straight up punching the holes in the All Star cards they used to give you at the ballpark and overflowing the boxes with cards with Terry Steinbach's name punched in. I don't know about you, but I like the old way drastically more than the new, online based voting system. When I was younger, filling out those punch cards was always one of the highlights of going to pre All Star break games and I think something has been lost in the translation from manual to online voting. I don't know what it is, but it is not the same and I have not voted for an All Star in years.

Good old days rants aside, Terry Steinbach as mentioned above, won the All Star Game MVP on account of his two run homer in the game that stood up and propelled the AL to victory. I still remember that home run honestly and it would probably be my most vivid All Star Game memory if not for Boggs and Bo Jackson leading off the 1989 game with back-to-back homers and Pedro's performance in the 1999 game at Fenway. Back to Steinbach though, and I guess the point here is that even though Varitek does not deserve to be at the game, it does not mean that he won't produce. Sure he has been woeful at the plate lately, but I am going to go out on a limb and predict him commemorating the twenty years since the Steinbach home run with a slump-busting, go-ahead home run of his own late in the game. You know 'Tek will be playing too because Tito is the manager, and he won't make Joe Mauer catch the full 9 innings. So there you have my fearless prediction; Jason Varitek will be the MVP of the 2008 All Star Game.

And in case you were wondering what happened to Terry Steinbach the rest of that season, he went on to post a 116 OPS+. Will the same go for Varitek? I sure hope so.

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