A lot of eyebrows have been raised because of the large number of MLB players from both leagues who have declined to participate in tomorrow’s All-Star Game in Phoenix. To be precise, there are fifteen players in all who have withdrawn from a game that will determine who has home field advantage in the World Series.
I cannot help but wonder if some of this might have to do with the Arizona immigration law, S.B. 1070. You might recall that the MLB Players Association made a very big stink about it in May 2010. Indeed, I spoke with their communications director, Greg Souris, over the phone. He didn’t have much to tell add but his position was clear.
My suspicions were further aroused when MLB Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner said the absence of these players was due to “circumstance.” And what could that circumstance be?
In fairness, some of players have legitimate reasons for not attending. For instance, pitchers like Cole Hamels of the Philadelphia Phillies, C.C. Sabathia of the New York Yankees and Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants who pitched on Sunday and are not eligible to play in the game. Then there are several players who were selected who are legitimately injured such as Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez who just underwent knee surgery today and is expected to be out from four to six weeks.
But what excuse does Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees, Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price have? Has the MLBPA suggested they boycott the game? One cannot discount the possibility.
If Jeter can go 5-for-5 on Saturday then he can play in front of the people who elected him to start at shortstop for the AL team in front of the fans in Phoenix on Tuesday?
If the MLBPA has persuaded some of its members to boycott Arizona during the All-Star Game then they have served their players and the game poorly.
UPDATE: Please see my apology to Shane Victorino here.