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Fan Confidence: An All-Star Disappointment for Ian Kennedy and Phoenix

By this time next week, we'll be waking up to watch our hometown host its first ever MLB All-Star Game.  Sure, it's hosted other games before, for another league, but excuse me if I don't think you've really made it until you've hosted a Super Bowl and a MLB All-Star Game.  Well, Phoenix, this is your time.

There's been some anger amongst the Diamondbacks fans, though, when we should instead be feeling joy.  It's been layered on top, as a result of the MLB All-Star roster.  The Diamondbacks only have 1, for now, participant.  Others might join the team by the time gets closer, but it's being spun as some kind of purposeful slight against Phoenix, Arizona, and the Diamondbacks and all their fans.

But is it really a travesty?

In my All-Star Selection story I speculated that Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy, and Stephen Drew seemed all possible picks.  Each player is among the best at their position.  Others on the bubble were Miguel Montero, JJ Putz, Dan Hudson, and Ryan Roberts (though his lack of history would normally make him an ultra-longshot, Vogelsong apparently gets a pass),

In a perfect, non-exsistant world, that would mean all 7 of the players would make the ASG.  Is that a reasonable assumption?  The most the team has ever had was 6, and that was after a World Series win.  Should we expect a team that has had 2 straight cellar seasons and a current 2nd place spot to be given any leeway?  So maybe 7 is too much.  If we throw out Roberts (sorry, Tatman) then we're still sitting at 6.  Even if each player is within the top echelon, it's easy to see how it can be whittled down further.  Montero has too many errors, Putz has cooled off mightily, Hudson isn't a Giant, et cetera.

I've seen it mentioned that the low number of Diamondbacks is an insult to Phoenix because we're hosting.  So what's a normal number of players for a host city?  

  • 2010, Anaheim of Los Angeles Californias: 2
  • 2009, St. Louis: 3
  • 2008, New York Yankees: 3
  • 2007, San Francisco: 1
  • 2006, Pittsburgh: 2
  • 2005, Detroit: 1
  • 2004, Houston: 4
  • 2003, Chicago White Sox: 3
  • 2002, Milwaukee: 2
  • 2001, Seattle: 8
  • 2000, Atlanta: 5
  • 1999, Boston: 3
  • 1998, Colorado: 3
It's certainly not unheard of for a city to only have 1 player in the game.  In fact, outside of a few cases in the past decade, no host has really stacked the deck.  2 or 3 players seems most natural, but 1 isn't too far outside that range. 

The All-Star Game isn't a pure selector of talent.  It isn't, "make a leaderboard of the du jour stat and select the top 3."  These are complex choices based on history, team's success, bias, and other very human reactions.  It's the All-Star Game, not the All-Talent Game.

Getting only one All-Star in a hosting year doesn't mean the rest of the league has it out for the Diamondbacks, it just means that the team hasn't done a whole lot to deserve respect.  And if it did, you can't always expect that to translate to more All-Stars.  The Giants should only have 1, Brian Wilson, but ended up with 3 more because their manager loaded the deck.

We want life to be fair.  We want success to be based on our hard work, the sweat of our brow, and our innate goodness.  But that's isn't the way of success.  It's working hard, some of the time, but then getting someone powerful to intercede.  It's using institutional inequalities to gain an edge.  It's stacking the deck in your favor, because there is no umpire for these kinds of things.