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Posted: Monday July 14, 2008 12:21PM; Updated: Monday July 14, 2008 6:24PM
John Donovan John Donovan >

The Windup (cont.)

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John Donovan's Mailbag
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From the Mailbag

Jason Varitek shouldn't be in [the All-Star Game]. But to say he is not superior in his ability to handle a pitching staff is ludicrous. When Varitek is out, the Red Sox lose. It's always been that way (see 2001 and 2006 in August). Also, four no-hitters with four different pitchers (a record) none of which will get anywhere near the Hall of Fame. What about that don't you get?
-- Jim Hayes, Boston

Jim, we agree. Varitek shouldn't be in. But I never said he wasn't better in handling the pitchers. I just said whatever edge he has shouldn't be enough to put him in the game over guys like A.J. Pierzynski and Dioner Navarro. Not for an exhibition game. No way.

Perhaps A.J. Pierzynski was left off the All-Star squad because he was and is a nasty person who doesn't deserve recognition for the way he plays the game.
-- Linda Scheid, Sioux City, Iowa

Linda, he has a rep, you're right. But nastiness never has been a deterrent to playing in this game. Some of the nastiest cusses ever to pull on a pair of spikes have been in the All-Star Game. Pierzynski didn't make it because Varitek did. Maybe it wasn't nastiness being punished as much as goodness being rewarded. Or maybe the players just messed up.

So one of the NL's best pitcher's is squeezed out of the All-Star roster because of the "one per team" rule. This wouldn't be nearly so irritating if it weren't for the fact that the NL has two more teams than the AL. Does anyone involved in Major League Baseball possess a modicum of common sense? So the American League has a built-in advantage in the All-Star game, which determines home field for the World Series (still one of the most idiotic knee-jerk reactions I've witnessed in sports), which is made even more important due to the decades long travesty that is the DH. In how many ways are they going to force the National League behind the eight-ball?
-- Chad Meyer, Atlanta

You're not talking about Blaine Boyer, are you, Chad? Didn't think so. Well, I thought Tim Hudson had a chance. Things just didn't fall his way. And Jair Jurrjens, too (5-1, 2.92 ERA in his last 10 starts). They might both be deserving. With Philly's Cole Hamels. Look, not to be overly simplistic, but someone's going to get left off no matter how you tweak the process. And this is gonna get on your nerves, but I like the one per team rule. I think it's important to see someone from every team in this exhibition game. I know this is hard to take for someone who remembers when the game meant something, when there really was an AL vs. NL, but we have to realize that this ... is ... an ... exhibition! No matter what phony importance you try to place on it.

Regarding your comments on the Sox' handling of Manny's "assault" on a club employee: Is it possible that the Red Sox brass simply have no interest in discussing such internal matters with the media? Do they have any obligations to talk to you about how the handled something behind closed doors? I'd say not personally. They seem to be pretty good at running a baseball team up there in Beantown. The media's reaction to that story seemed very typical in that it was very judgmental, and seemed to collectively presume that the media should have been consulted on the handling of the situation.
-- Angus Robertson, Huntington, Vt.

Judgmental? Yeah, media folk can be that way, Angus. But, noooo, I don't want to be consulted. My point is this: if I were a Red Sox fan (which I'm not), I'd want to be proud of my hometown team. I'd want to know that the team I pour all of my heart into (and probably some of my money) is taking care of stuff like that and not just letting it slide. Because letting it slide, no matter how you get around it, is not right. It makes my team look weak. Maybe real Boston fans are fine with it. Maybe they think that it's none of their business. Maybe they have some blind trust, as you suggest, that the Sox will do what's right. I'm just not too big on the "blind" part, I guess. The Red Sox have no obligation to tell us that Manny didn't get away with this, which is how it looks. But I just think they'd want to let us know.

Did you run out of thoughts this week? Sidney Ponson throws six shutout innings in his Yankees debut and you say nothing. He has one bad start and the Yanks, according to you, should get rid of him. And writers wonder why the fans and players think so little of them?
-- Herb Reyes, New York City

Herb, I am sufficiently rung up. You're right. I'm dead wrong. I jumped on Ponson, largely because of his reputation as being totally unreliable, and wouldn't you know, he pitches six nice innings against the Rays on Wednesday. He'll do for the Yanks, for now. As long as he keeps going out there. You're right.

Jose Reyes, Troy Tulowitzki and Kevin Youkilis have been criticized recently for what you have called displays of unprofessionalism (in Tulowitzki's case anyway). Would you not prefer to see your star players showing passion after a bad at-bat or an error than not seeming to care at all? Surely passion for the game and a will to win is healthy more often than not?
-- Eoin, Ireland

Passion = good. Stupid acts that make you look lame and possibly hurt your team = bad. I don't mind a helmet toss or a pumped fist if not taken to an extreme. I mind if the pump is for just another strikeout and if the helmet bounces up and pops you in the eye and makes you miss a week.

How come no one in the media is bringing up the fact that Kosuke Fukudome is an All-Star? My goodness Skip Schumaker has stats as good as his. This media lovefest with the Cubs will never end.
-- James Rogers, Bakersfield, Calif.

A semi-good call, James. Fukudome was a fan choice, but a lot of that was due, you're right, to the early season media fuss that was made over the outfielder. I'll give him his plate discipline and the high on-base percentage. But, since the beginning of June, he's hitting .233, with a .338 on-base percentage and four homers in 36 games. Doesn't sound like an All-Star to me, either, James. No wonder Pat Burrell is disappointed.

Why is everyone making such a huge deal with the Brewers getting CC and writing the Cardinals out of the playoff race. Ben Sheets is a huge injury risk for the season. If the Cards can get Carpenter and Wainwright back to form I'd take those two plus Lohse over any of the others in the Central when healthy. Not to mention Albert can carry a team like no other hitter in the game if he gets hot.
-- Dan Miller, Oakville, Mo.

Well, Dan, what you're saying is IF everything goes right for the Cardinals and IF a big thing goes wrong for the Brewers (Sheets going down), we should pay attention to the Cards. And, IF that's what happens, I agree with you. But let's not forget about the NL Central leaders, Dan. The Cubs are pretty good.

So the Brewers picked up Sabathia. I don't suppose they watched Sabathia pitch in the playoffs last year. Didn't he have an ERA over 8.00? What a choke artist. He should have been forced to return that Cy Young award.
-- Scott, New Mexico

Well, his ERA was 8.82 in three starts against the Yankees and Red Sox. I'm guessing that the Brewers will worry about Sabathia's October woes when he gets them there, and not a moment before.

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