Yeah, forget everything I said in Friday’s column. Well, don’t forget it completely. I actually think it was fairly well-thought-out. But some developments Saturday should be sending Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong to Cincinnati for Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
Wong had already been left off the roster in favor of Dee Gordon, DJ LeMahieu and Joe Panik. Miami’s Gordon was deserving of winning the fan vote but Wong is a better selection than possibly Panik and certainly LeMahieu. Unfortunately Gordon dislocated his thumb early in Saturday’s win against the Reds and will miss some time, opening up a spot on the National League squad.
Rather than replacing him with Wong, who finished second behind Gordon in the NL voting results, it was Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki making the team. Tulowitzki is the third shortstop and will still make his fifth All-Star team after coming up short in the Final Fan Vote.
Now, Tulowitzki isn’t to blame here. He’s been a great offensive player and he’s having a fine season at the dish (.318, nine homers, 46 RBIs), but NL manager Bruce Bochy certainly thought it was important enough to have three second basemen on the roster when he used one of his reserve selections on Panik — his own player. That number dropped to two with Gordon’s injury and the obvious correction would have been sliding Wong into his spot. That didn’t happen.
It’s become a running theme for Wong, who has now had his hopes dashed five times. He finished second in the fan vote, was passed over in favor of LeMahieu by the players, was passed over in favor of Panik by Bochy, was not placed on the Final Fan Vote ballot and was now passed over in favor of Tulowitzki.
If the worry was adding another Cardinal, it should have been quelled by the news that St. Louis outfielder Matt Holliday won’t be active. That drops the Cards to five players on the team, still one fewer than the Royals have on the AL squad. St. Louis has been the best team in baseball and Wong could have been seen as a team replacement for Holliday as much as a replacement for Gordon.
This seems all the more egregious with the highlight plays Wong has been making at second base in recent weeks and with his strong return to the lineup Saturday. Everyone likes a few extra days off, but Wong should be in uniform Tuesday night. Looks like he’ll have to wait at least one more year to make his All-Star debut.
ONE ROUND IN THE BOOKS AT J-BAY: It appears the contest will be on hold again today (local time) with the hope of some more contestable surf filling in Monday and Tuesday. But one round of the J-Bay Open in South Africa is complete and a pair of Hawaii surfers made the most of their early heats.
Freddy Patacchia and Keanu Asing each won their opening sessions to move directly into the third round. Each barely skimmed by with Patacchia topping Jadson Andre by three-tenths of a point and Asing less than a point ahead of Joel Parkinson. Each awaits their round three opponent, depending on advancers from round two’s man-on-man confrontations.
Sebastian Zietz will be one of those round two competitors as he takes on Australia’s Matt Wilkinson. Zietz failed to make it five out of six first-round wins for the season as he and Dusty Payne were each relegated to round two by Josh Kerr. Payne has a battle with Brazilian rookie Italo Ferreira in the second round.
The lower seeds were doing much of the damage on day one with C.J. Hobgood, Dane Reynolds and a returning Michel Bourez all picking up heat wins. The top three in the men’s rankings — Adriano de Souza, Filipe Toledo and Owen Wright — will all have to survive second-round heats. But Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning held it down for the favorites, putting up the two best heat totals of the day and moving into round three.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.