No DH means no All-Star game for several big-name sluggers
By Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY
They are some of baseball's best stories and biggest names, yet when it comes to this year's All-Star ballot their names do not appear.
Cincinnati Reds rookie outfielder Josh Hamilton
, after missing nearly four years with drug addiction, is among the league leaders in home runs and drawing the attention of movie producers with his dramatic season.
Detroit Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson
was a key member of last year's American League champion team and continues to be in 2007 as the leadoff hitter. Sluggers Mike Piazza
, Frank Thomas
, Jim Thome
and Mike Sweeney
have combined to be named to 27 All-Star teams, but to earn fan election this year, they will have to be write-ins.
The last write-in candidate to make the starting lineup was Steve Garvey in 1974. This year's candidates could still be included on the team in a vote by their peers and All-Star managers Tony La Russa of the NL and Jim Leyland of the AL.
"Being selected to compete in the All-Star Game would be a great honor," said Granderson, who was initially disappointed at the news, "but it's not one of my goals right now. I want to play well every game and give us a chance to win every night."
The primary reason for this year's omissions is that the All-Star Game is in San Francisco, leaving the designated hitter off the ballot.
If teams want to include their DH on the ballot, they have to be cunning. Boston Red Sox full-time DH David Ortiz
is listed on the ballot as a first baseman, while Kevin Youkilis
is off. Tigers DH Gary Sheffield
is listed as an outfielder along with Magglio Ordonez and Craig Monroe
, leaving Granderson off. Hamilton is omitted since he was a reserve at the season's outset.
"I didn't even know Curtis wasn't on the ballot," Sheffield said. "All I know is that when I came over (to Detroit), I told them to list me in the media guide as an outfielder. I hope it doesn't cost him."