Baseball's "Midsummer Classic" provides an annual showcase for the most talented MLB players. But before the first pitch is thrown out in the host ballpark, the MLB All-Star Game provides fans, media and even some folks in uniform a chance to gripe about the selections -- and omissions.
It didn't take long after the rosters to be revealed on Sunday before the controversy began. Leading off was Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker, who claimed two of his players were snubbed because of his club's rivalry with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Although the first-place Reds are sending three players to the All-Star game, second baseman Brandon Phillips and pitcher Johnny Cueto were omitted from the Senior Circuit's roster. Baker seems to believe that Tony La Russa is the cause for the snubs. Despite retiring after the 2011 season, La Russa will helm the N.L. All-Stars after leading the Cards to the pennant last season.
"A snub like that looks bad. Johnny and Brandon were at the center of skirmish between us and the Cardinals. Some of Cardinals who aren’t there anymore are making some of the selections," Baker said referring to the bench-clearing brawl between the Reds and Cardinals from two years ago, via Cincinnati.com.
While Baker's allegations go above and beyond the usual midsummer complaints, such controversy is as much a part of the All-Star break as the Home Run Derby. Although MLB has contrived all sorts of backdoors to get deserving -- and sort-of deserving -- players a roster spot if they're not voted in by the fans, there are too many talented players and far too many devoted seamheads to keep everyone happy. The Players' Ballot may have kept the peace in Queens by finding a reserve spot for David Wright, who failed to win the fan vote despite his .354 batting average and 50 RBI, but Camden Yards will not be a happy place if Baltimore's Jason Hammel (8-3) -- who has a better ERA (3.29) and WHIP (1.19) than Yankees' ace CC Sabathia (9-3) -- doesn't earn a spot via the "Final Vote" at MLB.com.
Should Phillips and Cueto have made the NL team? Or at least been included in the Final Vote? Scroll down below to see some of this year's All-Star snubs and vote on whether you think they should have made the team.
Johan Santana- New York Mets (SP)
Record: 6-4 ERA: 2.76 SO: 93
Bryce Harper- Washington Nationals (OF)
AVG: .274 HR: 8 RBI: 22 Runs: 36 <br> *contender for Final Vote spot
A.J. Pierzynski - Chicago White Sox (C)
AVG: .285 HR: 14 RBI: 45 Runs: 36
Paul Goldschmidt- Arizona Diamondbacks (1B)
AVG: .292 HR: 11 RBI: 35 Runs: 34
Yu Darvish- Texas Rangers (SP)
Record: 10-5 ERA: 3.59 SO: 117 <br> *contender for Final Vote spot
Edwin Encarnacion- Toronto Blue Jays (1B)
AVG: .291 HR: 22 RBI: 55 Runs: 50
Zack Greinke- Milwaukee Brewers (SP)
Record: 9-2 ERA: 2.82 SO: 102
Andre Ethier- Los Angeles Dodgers (OF)
AVG: .291 HR: 10 RBI: 55 Runs: 36
Michael Bourn- Atlanta Braves (OF)
AVG: .302 HR: 7 RBI: 29 Runs: 52 <br> *contender for Final Vote spot
Johnny Cueto- Cincinnati Reds (SP)
Record: 9-4 ERA: 2.26 SO: 79
Austin Jackson- Detroit Tigers (OF)
AVG: .326 HR: 8 RBI: 34 Runs: 45
Aaron Hill- Arizona Diamondbacks (2B)
AVG: .301 HR: 11 RBI: 38 Runs: 35 <br> *contender for Final Vote spot
Josh Willingham- Minnesota Twins (OF)
AVG: .268 HR: 17 RBI: 55 Runs: 43
Brandon Phillips- Cincinnati Reds (2B)
AVG: .285 HR: 10 RBI: 46 Runs: 42
James McDonald- Pittsburgh Pirates (SP)
Record: 7-3 ERA: 2.44 SO: 86
Jake Peavy- Chicago White Sox (SP)
Record: 6-5 ERA: 2.96 SO: 101 <br> *contender for Final Vote spot
Jason Kipnis- Cleveland Indians (2B)
AVG: .271 HR: 11 RBI: 47 Runs: 47
Chipper Jones- Atlanta Braves (3B)
AVG: .291 HR: 6 RBI: 28 Runs: 22 <br> *contender for Final Vote spot
Hunter Pence- Philadelphia Phillies (OF)
AVG: .285 HR: 16 RBI: 49 Runs: 56
Josh Reddick- Oakland Athletics (OF)
AVG: .260 HR: 18 RBI: 39 Runs: 49