The first Major League All-Star Game was held on July 6th 1933 in Chicago, Illinois' Comiskey Park. According to the All-Star Game history at the Baseball-Almanac.com, the first two games in 1933 and '34 featured rosters, "...selected by the managers and the fans," but, "From 1935 through 1946, managers selected the entire team for each league," and it was in the last year under those rules, 1946, that the first rookie pitcher, 23-year-old Cincinnati Reds' right-hander Ewell Blackwell made his first All-Star appearance. Blackwell had debuted in 1942, but only played in the big leagues briefly, pitching in two games before the Reds sent the pitcher to the International League's Syracuse Chiefs to play out the season. 4 years later, after he'd served in WWII, Blackwell returned to the Majors and made the first of six career All-Star appearances.
In all, 31 rookie pitchers (16 in the NL) have appeared in the All-Star Game. In recent years, National League starters like Fernando Valenzuela (1981), Dwight Gooden (1984), Hideo Nomo (1995), Ben Sheets (2001) and Dontrelle Willis (2003) have all pitched in the ASG during their rookie campaigns, but none of the above made their debuts as late in the season as the Nats' right-hander Stephen Strasburg, whose name has been the topic of numerous discussions recently focused on whether or not he should be added to 2010's NL squad.
DC GM Mike Rizzo told MLB.com's Bill Ladson in an article entitled, "Rizzo embraces Strasburg as All-Star", that, "If [Phillies manager] Charlie Manuel or MLB feels he is one of the best players in the league and he should be on the All-Star team, he would earn it and deserves it. I would embrace it." But should Strasburg, who's (2-2) in 5 starts and 31.2 IP over which he's walked 7 (1.99 BB/9) and struck out 48 (13.64 K/9), be named to the team? Is it exploitation? Is Major League Baseball just taking advantage of all the exposure Strasburg's received to draw attention to the so-called Mid-Summer Classic? Should a pitcher on such a strict inning-limit throw a few of them in the ASG? Two former major leaguers, one relief pitcher, Mitch Williams (a one-time All-Star) and one fielder, Aaron Boone (a one-time AS as well), offered their opinions recently:
• MLB Network's MLB Tonight: Mitch Williams on whether Strasburg should be selected as a 2010 All-Star:
"I don’t care if two of his first four starts were no-hitters , there is no way you can put this kid on the All-Star team after five starts. As much as he is impressive , polished , young and exciting , the All-Star Game is based on the entire first half. It will do this kid a disservice and alienate other players against him if he makes the team. Pitchers will look at him and say , ‘He’s going to make the All-Star team when I’ve pitched 120 innings and have nine wins?’ If Strasburg makes the team , it hurts the credibility of the league."
Before the first game of the Nats' current series with the Braves, one-time National Aaron Boone appeared on ESPN's Monday Night Baseball to discuss the success Strasburg's had thus far, and when asked if the 21-year-old right-hander should appear in the All-Star Game, Mr. Boone responded:
"Not yet, but I would have no problem...he's going to have three more starts before the All-Star Game, if he goes out and continues to dominate, continues to pitch well, and he doesn't bump somebody that is deserving, I think he's worthy of All-Star consideration certainly, and at the end of the day, that game is important to win and I would love to have Stephen Strasburg in my rotation, set up to pitch an inning at some point in the game. I would think he would be a candidate to shut some of those American Leaguers down."
Where do you stand? Are you with Aaron "[expletive deleted]" Boone or the Wild Thing? Should Stephen Strasburg be named to the 2010 All-Star Game by the NL Skipper? Or should MLB maybe put Strasburg's name amongst those chosen by the fans for the final name on the roster? That way it will truly be a case where if the fans want to see the Nats' 21-year-old starter they can vote him in? Is Stephen Strasburg an All-Star?