They announced the rosters for Major League Baseball's 2010 All-Star Game over the weekend, and notwithstanding the "controversy" over whether or not Washington Nats pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg should or shouldn't have been picked to the squad (the guy's been in a grand total of what, six ballgames?), I trust that most stat-crazed fans out there are as excited as I am that Cincinnati relief pitcher Arthur Rhodes has made his first All-Star team at the ripe young age of 40 - thus increasing the number of 40-plus first-time All-Stars in MLB history to a grand total of five. The oldest, not surprisingly, is Satchel Paige, who was 46 when he made the AL squad as a member of the St. Louis Browns in 1952. The others are all pitchers, too: Tim Wakefield (42 in '09), Jamie Moyer (40 in '03) , and Connie Marrero, who was also 40 in 1951 - though, at the time, the Cuban legend had shaved a few years off his birth certificate and was claiming to be only 34. (Oh, those crafty Latin hurlers.)
Still, statistically speaking, it's not Rhodes' age that makes his selection so special, nor the fact that he just tied a major league record with 33 consecutive scoreless appearances - which, at any age, is pretty remarkable. No, it is rather the fact that Arthur Rhodes is now the first baseball player in history, regardless of age or position, to make an All-Star team after getting thrown out of a game earlier in his career because of his jewelry.
I speak, of course, of the notorious "Bling" incident of August 25, 2001, when, in a game between Seattle and Cleveland, Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel complained to the home plate umpire that he was having trouble seeing the ball because of the light reflecting off then-Mariner Rhodes' living-large, diamond-studded earrings. The ump (pine tar vet/weird play specialist Tim McClelland, naturally) told Rhodes to remove the earrings and Arthur, his manhood as well as his fashion sense brazenly challenged, flatly refused and started gesturing angrily at Vizquel. This caused both benches to clear, and by the time the (diamond) dust had settled, Rhodes had become the first baseball player ever ejected for earrings. "I never heard anything like that," an unrepentant Rhodes complained afterwards. "A little scrawny hitter like him. (He's a) little midget. Why is he telling me to take my earrings out?"
So, close to a decade later, it would seem that Arthur Rhodes finally has the last laugh. Let's just hope that, while he's at it, he doesn't show up at the All-Star game flashing a grill. Given his track record, I wouldn't put it pass the Colossus of Rhodes.