In some ways, the Yankees can't win for losing when it comes to All-Star Games.
When they all show up, we complain there are too many of them. When they are picked and stay home, we complain that there aren't enough of them.
CC Sabathia can't pitch because of the dopey new "Sunday" rule. OK. Alex Rodriguez is having knee surgery. Fair enough. But when Robinson Cano gave us all a moment to remember in winning Monday night's Home Run Derby, the first guy who should have hugged him after his father/pitcher should have been his double play partner.
But it wasn't because Derek Jeter didn't show up. Just two days after reaching the 3,000-hit plateau with five hits in Yankee Stadium, Jeter remained in New York, skipping out on his 12th All-Star appearance and cheating the baseball world out of a chance to say thank you for his contributions to the game.
I'm sure there was a lot of pressure chasing that milestone hit. I'm sure the injured calf that put him on the disabled list in June is still singing. I'm sure that with A-Rod out and the Yankees facing a tough schedule with road games in turf cities (Toronto, Tampa), putting the Captain up on blocks for three days made a lot of sense.
But it was the wrong decision.
If Jeter doesn't want to play, fine. There are 15 other players either voted or selected to the team who aren't playing either. It took 84 invitations before the dance card was finally filled. Some like Jose Reyes have been and remain hurt. Others, like Albert Pujols ... well, I guess he was exhausted from that home run he hit against the D-Backs last Saturday.
Pujols actually publicly clamored to come, and he should have been here, but wasn't invited.
Jeter was, and should be here if for nothing more than to tip his cap, cheer on Cano and sit in the FOX booth for an inning of chit-chat.
I'm sure that at least once in his 24 All-Star Game appearances, Hank Aaron was pretty darn exhausted. I'm sure once in his 24 appearances, Willie Mays was playing through a calf injury. I'm sure somewhere in the middle of his 2,632-game ironman streak and 19 All-Star appearances, it sure would have felt good for Cal Ripken Jr. to rest up for three days in the middle of July instead of making another cross-country plane flight.
But that was a different time and that was a different All-Star game: Before the winner earned home-field advantage in the World Series and before just about any excuse for skipping the fan's game was good enough.
It's been more than 30 years since former Cardinals and Padres All-Star shortstop Garry Templeton announced, "If I ain't startin', I ain't departin'!" He was blasted for the comment and it followed him for the rest of his career.
Now, it's par for the course - and a crying shame.
•While it was awful bush league for Arizona fans to boo the National League's Home Run Derby representatives from the get-go Monday, their performance turned out to be worthy of the sentiment. Matt Kemp and Richie Weeks appeared totally overwhelmed by the stage will one less home run from Prince Fielder would have seen the entire Senior Circuit sitting after the first round.
Could Justin Upton have done better? It would have been hard to do worse. Robinson Cano hit 32 homers. The entire N.L. squad combined for 19. Ouch.
•No news bulletin here, but Adrian Gonzalez is a class act. He not only cheered for his competitors at every turn, he said afterward the Cano deserved to win because he was hitting the ball a lot further. As if the guy's batting stroke wasn't enough to admire.
•Even with the National League hitting the ball like the San Diego Padres, the event took more than three hours and, watching it live for the first time, the television breaks kill the in-stadium momentum. More than once I thought to myself, "Can't they run Wily Mo Pena out there for a few swings?"
•Ah, Willy Mo. There are a ton of reasons why a marginal major leaguer hitting .196 who strikes out more often than Chris Berman loses his voice shouldn't be in the same zip code as your signature event.
But the thought of seeing Mr. Tape Measure in a longest drive contest where curveballs are illegal and you are able to ask for placement of your 80-mile meatball? Hand that guy a Big Bertha and get your popcorn ready.
Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who normally appears every Sunday in the Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org