Domenic Vadala: From Italy, thoughts on the O's and the All-Star Game

First things first: Greetings to all MASN viewers and MASNsports.com readers from sunny Italy! Like most people from the mid-Atlantic region, Orioles baseball goes hand-in-hand for me with vacation. Two weeks ago, I was out at the Delaware shore for the weekend and I could very easily pick up the Ocean City station that carries the O's, so I sat on the beach and listened to the games all weekend. However, coming back to my parents' house in the Italian region of Sicily (where my roots are) affords me no such luxury. But I see it as a net gain in that I get to spend two weeks here and only miss a week and a half of the Orioles due to the All-Star break.

Nevertheless, I do follow the games via the box scores, so I've seen the struggles the O's have had this past week along with yesterday's dramatics from Adam Jones in a winning effort. And no folks, I'm not taking responsibility for the 2-4 road trip that ensued since I've left. That aside, I'm a big-picture type of guy in that I feel we need to continue to see the entire product as opposed to just one week's worth of games or even one individual game. And the entire product thus far dictates that the O's have three starters in the All-Star Game (Adam Jones, Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy) and one reserve (Manny Machado).

One could make a case for other Orioles to have been on the roster, including Nick Markakis, Chris Tillman and others. But it's safe to say that many Orioles (especially Markakis) and many players on other teams were left off of the rosters because every team had to be represented. I recognize that I might be in the minority here, but I agree with that rule. Keep in mind that for years the Orioles, in effect, stood to take a roster spot away from another team's deserving player due to the fact that they had to have a representative in the game. So now that the Orioles are a good team, the same is still true in reverse.

I firmly believe that every baseball fan has the right to watch the All-Star Game and to have a member of his or her hometown team on the roster. Further, I would submit that the rule should be that everyone plays regardless of circumstances in the game. I don't recall a situation where the token Oriole was ever not inserted into the game in some fashion, but I'd be pretty annoyed if my player didn't see the field in some manner. And by that, I literally mean in any manner. That could be as a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner, defensive replacement, etc.

Many people point to the fact that the game now means something - home field advantage for the World Series - and thus managers shouldn't have to be forced to take on a player or insert him into the game that they otherwise wouldn't have. Well, that's just part of the game. While I recognize that home field advantage is very important to teams and that it means a lot (especially in the World Series), we're talking about the venue for one game. Am I saying that the venue for one game (in the World Series) is unimportant? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that if it keeps a young fan interested in the game in a place like San Diego, Houston, Miami or any other place where the home team is struggling, I think it's worth the potential sacrifice.

The NBA and NHL don't have such a rule, and I feel that their all-star products suffer as a result. In fairness, rosters in those sports are smaller than a baseball roster, but I do believe in the concept of each team having some representation. I would have liked to have seen Buck Showalter on the coaching staff, but for all we know he declined an invitation. I'll be rooting for the American League in the game (a game that I'll follow via the box score that is), but ultimately it's still an exhibition. I hope that Jones, Davis, Hardy and Machado represent the Orioles well and ultimately go out there and have some fun.

Perhaps more importantly, I hope that the rest of the Orioles disperses to their respective homes for a few days of rest and relaxation. That will serve them well as they begin the grind of the second half.

Domenic Vadala blogs about the Orioles at Birds Watcher, and his opinions appear here as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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