Hey now, Jeff Samardzija’s an All-Star. But he can’t get his game on and go play. And yes, I really am using this scenario as an excuse to open a blog post with Smash Mouth lyrics, because I’m dropping the gauntlet on the rest of the blogosphere’s lack of awesome writing skills. C’mon, internet. I dare you to try and up the ante with some Sugar Ray or something.
Anyway, Samardzija was named to the National League All-Star team on Sunday, just two days after being sent by the Cubs in a deal with Oakland that Chicago is hoping will someday be classified as a blockbuster. And therein lies the rub.
Even though he has already made his first appearance with the Athletics, according to the rule book Samardzija is ineligible to play for the American League squad because he was selected for his work playing for a National League squad. He’ll still get All-Star status and the corresponding contract bonus, but can’t actually suit up. For now.
Samardzija can actually make the American League roster as an injury replacement. That scenario was once faced by Carlos Beltran, who was voted onto the AL team as a Royal in 2004 before being dealt to the Astros, who were then in the National League.
When the rule was written — whenever that may have been — it made sense.
The All-Star Game was one of two times each season that players from the American and National Leagues faced one another. They were testing their skill sets against two completely different samples. But with interleague play now a year-round venture, it’s an unnecessary anachronism. I would expect Bud Selig’s successor as commissioner — if not Selig himself — to push a rule that allows guys to play regardless of whether they’ve been traded between leagues. That holds doubly true now that home-field advantage in the World Series is on the line. If a guy’s been traded to a contender, he should have the opportunity to improve their postseason position.
All-Stars are supposed to have the chance to shine. After all, as the 2000 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award winners for Favorite Band once told us, only shooting stars break the mold.