For Maine, right may be wrong

The All-Star Game selection show on TBS yesterday had the feel of CBS’ annual NCAA basketball tournament selection show. TBS did its best to drag out the blasted thing, revealing the American League starters, then “breaking it down” with Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn, then moving on to the AL pitchers (and breaking it down), then finally giving us the AL reserves. And of course there were commercial breaks in there.

When they finally made it around to the NL pitchers could I start discussing with a friend of mine how idiotic it was that John Maine was left off the team — and not even a Final Vote candidate! — while Cole Hamels was on the staff despite having better numbers than Maine in only two categories. And then, perhaps because of the NCAA feel to the process, I brought up the head-to-head factor: Maine and the Mets beat Hamels and the Phillies on Friday night.

But let me illustrate it for you:

Remember the Maine

Maine 102 79 32 31 38 84 2.74 1.15 .215 .635 7.41 6.97 3.35 9 4
Hamels 111.2 107 51 48 29 116 3.87 1.22 .254 .758 9.35 8.62 2.34 9 4

Maine wins the head-to-head comparison pretty handily. In one less start, the Mets right-hander has 9 2/3 fewer innings, but the rest of his numbers far surpass those of Hamels. The only advantage Hamels has are in strikeouts and walks. The former is by a somewhat significant margin, but is more than balanced out by Maine’s superior numbers in hits and runs allowed and the related batting average against and OPS figures. And the walks difference is only nine.

Obviously, neither pitcher was needed to fill the quota for his respective team, since both the Mets and Phillies had starters selected by the fans. The only possible explanation I can find is that Hamels is just one of three left-handers on Tony La Russa’s NL squad. So maybe the micromanager felt he needed one more southpaw to neutralize the AL’s lefties.

Maine’s last hope lies in one of the current pitchers bowing out to rest a nagging injury or rendering himself unavailable because the game on July 10 comes too close to a Saturday or Sunday start. Sunday’s starters, which would be the same as Tuesday’s if rotations hold, show no pitchers currently on the NL team, though Carlos Zambrano and Roy Oswalt are up for the Final Vote. (Mine, incidentally, is going to San Diego’s Chris Young.) Looking at tonight’s starters — and therefore Saturday’s — gives us only Brandon Webb, also a Final Vote candidate, and John Smoltz. So the “I’m unavailable because I pitched two days ago” route doesn’t look like an option.

For the most part, this year’s rosters don’t seem to be too idiotic. There aren’t too many players to argue over; instead, the arguments should be over whether every team should be given a representative (they shouldn’t) and whether pitchers should hit (they shouldn’t). Who wants to see Josh Beckett come to the plate with two outs in the first and the bases loaded? Instead, the designated hitter should be used for the game — it is an exhibition, after all — no matter where it is played. Vote for the AL DHs as DHs and have the NL’s starting DH determined by the positional runner-up with the most overall votes.

Let’s hope Maine gets his due before next Tuesday.

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