clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

New York Yankees Magic Moment No. 6: The Ultimate All-Star Snub

What would be the easiest "yes" vote in All-Star history to get wrong?

Andrew McCutchen and CC Sabathia are making strong cases this year, though there's still time for late appointments and a place in the injury reserve.

But name the name- who in baseball history deserved to make the game, but didn't?

The name of all names, in my opinion, is Mariano Rivera.

Mariano has not been to as many All-Star games as you might expect, if you're new to the game, if you didn't follow baseball before he was "the great Rivera," but merely Rivera, a great closer.

2011 will mark Rivera's 12 All-Star game; most relievers hope for a 12 year career. But Mo has made the team 7 of the last 8 years, only after it became obvious that aging would not slow him down and he became one of the game's elder statesmen.

But for the first half of his career, Rivera's All Star selection seems to be more about his preceding postseason than about his current season. 1998 was a year like that.

What did it matter that Rivera was holding opposing hitters to a minuscule .185/.226/.269 line? What did it matter that he sported 20 saves and a 1.24 ERA? That he had put together a 0.85 WHIP over 36.1 innings? Rivera had blown a save that ended the Yankees' 1997.

So Tom Gordon went to the All Star game (he was on his way to a Red Sox record 46 saves) (.176/.263/.245 against, 24 saves, 2.96 ERA, 1.03 WHIP in 45.2 innings).

So Troy Percival went to the All Star game (163/.292/.287 against, 25 saves 2.97 ERA, 1.18 WHP in 36.1 innings).

So John Wetteland, the man with a championship ring that Rivera was trying to prove he could replace, went to the All Star game (.185/.210/.328 against, 22 saves, 1.41 ERA, 0.83 WHIP in 32 innings). At least Wetteland deserved to be there.

David Wells represented the Yankees to start the game. Scott Brosious, Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill and Derek Jeter  were all reserves. Maybe I was being greedy in wishing for a spot for Mo, just as I wonder if wishing for a spot for CC Sabathia is greedy.

Rivera would make the All Star team each of the next four years (it helped that the Yankees won the pennant each season, allowing Joe Torre to put the 1998 World Series MVP on the roster). But I suspect that when Rivera hangs them up, we'll all look back and agree that the best team he ever played on was in 1998, that we'll agree that the team could not have been so mechanically effective without him. And then we'll wonder what the league was thinking when they left him off the roster.