It can now be said without a doubt that the Philadelphia Phillies will not be making their third straight trip to the World Series this October.

Or at least their manager, Charlie Manuel, seems to think they won’t.

Why else would he do such a preposterous job of selecting his All-Star pitching staff and reserves?

As we all know, the Dumbest Rule in Professional Sports mandates that the winner of the MLB All-Star Game gets home field advantage in the World Series.

Thus, it only stands to reason that Manuel, the manager of the National League’s squad and also the manager of a potential World Series participant in the Philadelphia Phillies, would want to put together the best All-Star squad available to protect the Phillies’ shot at World Series home-field advantage.

Apparently, Manuel doesn’t see the Phillies back in the Series and has thus decided to sabotage whichever team it is that will eventually get there.

That is the only explanation.

Mind you, Manuel did not simply screw up one or two picks. Manuel practically picked the wrong player at almost every opportunity; everywhere that a pick wasn’t obvious, he went with the wrong one.

Consider, for example, the selection of Tim Lincecum for the pitching staff. Lincecum is one of the best pitchers in the game and is coming off consecutive NL Cy Young Awards. But in 2010, Lincecum is not one of the best 13 pitchers in the NL.  

The selection of Lincecum stands in contrast to the exclusion of Clayton Richard and Mat Latos of the San Diego Padres, both of whom have an ERA well below 3.00 (unlike Lincecum) and one of whom, Richard, is a left-hander.

Which brings up an interesting point—the American League will feature six left-handed starters out of nine, yet the National League has only one left-handed pitcher, Arthur Rhodes.  

So, to face a veritable murderer’s row of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Robinson Cano, Ichiro Suzuki, Josh Hamilton, and Carl Crawford, the National League will be armed with a bevy of right-handers and Rhodes, a 40-year-old middle reliever who, while having a great year, may not even be in the game by the time those other guys have been pulled for backups.

Have a nice weekend, all you left-handed starting pitchers: Jaime Garcia, Johan Santana, Jonathan Sanchez, and Clayton Kershaw. Charlie won’t need your services.

Manuel’s outfield picks, too, are baffling. In selecting Chris Young, Marlon Byrd, Michael Bourn, and Matt Holliday, Manuel made sure that each team in the NL is being represented at the expense of actual All-Star-caliber talent. Fact is, Colby Rasmus, Josh Willingham, and the Phillies’ own Jayson Werth are, to a man, each having better seasons than Young, Bourn, and Holliday.

Look, I realize Charlie is old school and probably despises modern statistics. So, here are some old school stats for you: Chris Young is batting .264. Michael Bourn is batting .260. Holliday has 11 home runs and 39 RBI, which both rank behind his own teammate Rasmus’ 16 and 40.

And it isn’t like Rasmus, Werth, and Willingham are the only viable alternatives. So too would Andrew McCutchen, Angel Pagan, and Matt Kemp have been better selections.

It is funny that Manuel would diss Werth in favor of marginally better outfielders, because he selected Ryan Howard over Joey Votto, who is enjoying a significantly better season than Howard.

Votto isn’t arguably better than Howard; he’s demonstratively better than Howard.

Perhaps the worst selection of all, and perhaps even of all time, was Manuel’s choice of Omar Infante, a utility infielder for the Atlanta Braves, over, well, just about anyone else in the league.

Infante has played just 56 games in 2010 and has appeared at five different positions. He is hitting .311 with a .721 OPS, one home run, eight doubles, three stolen bases, and 23 runs scored. He has 28 strikeouts to only nine walks and only 62 total bases.

Did Charlie lose a bet with somebody?

Look, I am sure Omar Infante is a nice guy, but there are 50 hitters in the National League who are more deserving of the All-Star Game than Infante.

Meanwhile, the final roster spot will be selected by fans in a vote between Votto, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Zimmerman, Heath Bell, and Billy Wagner, all of whom are significantly better than Infante, and frankly several other players on the roster.

The irony here is that the NL All-Star team would be better off if it took the five worst reserves and replaced them with all five of the players in the Final Vote.

Even if Charlie Manuel was doing the noble thing and trying to pick the players that most deserved to be at the All-Star Game—which he failed to do—one must be mindful of the fact that, thanks to the Dumbest Rule in Professional Sports, we are beyond the era when every team gets an All-Star and everyone that is there deserves to be there.

An All-Star roster should be filled with the best players in the league with position, team, and fluke season performance aside.

Alas, it is not to be.

So this is it, Philadelphia Phillies fans. On July 4, 2010, you got all the indication you needed that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel feels that his Phillies team has no shot at the World Series.

If he did, he surely would have given himself a better shot at winning the NL All-Star Game—and he has given himself none.


Asher B. Chancey lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is a co-founder of

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