One of the biggest topics in baseball in the week prior to the All-Star Game in Denver earlier this week was why so many players do not want to participate.
Some replacements were for injuries where the elected/selected player was on the injured list and some of the pitchers pitched on Sunday (and therefore, wouldn’t pitch in the All-Star game anyway) but there were some players that just chose not to participate.
Overall, between all of them, there were 17 players that were replaced on the All-Star Game rosters between the two teams.
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark addressed that when he spoke with the BBWAA.
Before the All-Star Game on Tuesday, MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark was asked during his media availability about why players are skipping out on it and what can be done to make the All-Star Game an event that players want to come to.
Clark said that he doesn’t believe it is an issue.
"“Well, I think this week is a remarkably attractive opportunity, in general,” said Clark to the BBWAA, including Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry, on Tuesday. “One thing I’ve learned is not to question someone’s injuries (or) someone’s aches and pains during the course of a season, or the determination that they can make individually as to what may be best for them (so that player) can move forward.“As a result of acknowledging that, there are some players that are here that we have focused in on, the players that are the remarkable talent that is available in our league, such that even those that have shown up deserve to be here. We almost wish that there were 50 roster spots. So, I understand that and appreciate it. But I think we’ve got a pretty remarkable group here.”"
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Clark made the case that the players are human and want to spend as much time with their families, especially when there were strict regulations last season and, specifically, in the playoffs.
"“One of the things I (talk about is) mental health …” Clark said. “[A]s players navigate this season –both themselves personally and their families — there’s a realization that this is far from the norm. I respect the fact that this is far from the norm.“As a result, there are experiences that trying to suggest that that, against the backdrop of the norm, x-y-z should happen. (It’s) not quite that simple. Understand and appreciate (that) I’ve learned more about the mental health piece than I have prior (to the pandemic) … I’m simply suggesting that I’ve learned a lot about the experience of our guys and their families moreso than what a regular year might be.”"
Mental health is a serious issue and has been even more of an issue in the last year and a half with the start of the pandemic and everything shutting it down.
Despite athletes often being as people that can accomplish anything and everything, they are humans. Fame and money are not always the solutions to happiness. For some of the players, it is other things, such as their families, that they would like to tend to for a few days while they have a few days off.
In the next CBA, this may be something that is addressed: whether or not players can opt-out of playing in All-Star Games. While, for example, this year, it was disappointing to not see the best pitcher in the world right now, Jacob deGrom, toe the rubber for the National League on Tuesday, there are injuries that we never know about and other issues that we may never know about (like mental health) that do have to be considered.