9:39 AM CDT, July 3, 2012
Chris Sale was named to the All-Star team.
Sale has been talked about as the American League starter.
Sale should not pick up so much as the rosin bag a week from today in Kansas City.
Sale is important. The All-Star Game is not. Any questions?
I hate to deprive the kid of such a spotlight, but it doesn’t matter as much as what follows. The All-Star Game is meaningless, no matter how much Bud Selig tries to clown it into relevance.
I love watching Sale pitch, especially in games like Tuesday night’s against the ERA-destroying Rangers. Texas not only brings that massive lineup, but it also brings a message of what matters:
The Rangers are the AL champs two years running. That ought to be the point for Sale and the Sox.
Before taking the mound Tuesday night, Sale already has thrown 95 1/3 innings. Not only is that 25 1/3 innings more than he has thrown in any season in the bigs, but this season accounts for more than half of his 189 2/3 major league total.
If I’m acting like Chicken Little here, then fine. Tough. I don’t care. Bawk, bawk, bawk.
Unless the Sox have changed something, Sale is scheduled to pitch again Sunday against Toronto. That’s two days before the All-Star Game. That’s perfect. Pitchers who appear in the games that matter on the last day of the first half usually need a note from the orthopedic surgeon to appear in the joke that is the All-Star Game.
Teams can sign off on their pitchers making an appearance. Only stupid teams allow good -- potentially great -- young arms to do it.
It might be just one inning -- heck, it might be just one batter -- but it’s harder work on a shorter schedule than Sale needs or even might be used to, and that’s just to warm up properly to get some of the game’s best hitters out.
More importantly, it’s also the loss of close to a week of rest that would seem to be much more beneficial to a guy who voiced elbow problems early in the season and was quickly rushed to the back end of the bullpen with the pitching coach making it sound like a career-saving decision.
Sale went full-metal pottymouth to convince general manager Ken Williams to parole him. Sale got his way. The pitching coach said he stole some extra rest for the young ace to keep him dominant. Tell me that doesn’t fit exactly the idea of blowing off an All-Star appearance.
The plan has worked. Sale trails only Angels monster Jered Weaver in ERA and WHIP in the AL and is 9-2 for a first-place team that already has enough arm issues with John Danks and Philip Humber. What’s worse, the Sox might face some bigger problems with all those hard-throwing kids in the bullpen. It’s such an issue, in fact, that Matt Thornton is warning the kids to speak up about their aches and pains.
Maybe it’s me, but right now, there’s no good reason for Sale to throw a pitch in anger in Kansas City. Sit back, relax and have some Gates Bar-B-Q. If I’m the Sox, I wouldn’t let Sale do anything more than stand on the third-base line in Kansas City and tip his cap when his name is announced.
If Sale becomes as good as the Sox believe and better than he has shown in this spectacular first half, then he will get other All-Star opportunities when his health and the Sox’s season doesn’t feel like it’s in such jeopardy.
But to anyone with a working brain, this is simple: Starting the All-Star Game isn’t nearly as important as starting the playoff opener.
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