PITTSBURGH -Answering all the questions about the MLB All-Star game:
n Why did A.J. Burnett and James McDonald get left off the team?
There are always more deserving players than available spots, especially with 16 teams in the National League. There were deserving players left off the roster when there were eight teams in the league.
By the way, one or both could still make it. There's a chance players will be dropping off the roster between now and Monday.
n Why is Tony LaRussa managing? He's retired.
There's nothing wrong with that. Danny Murtaugh was retired when he was invited back to manage the 1972 National League team.
It's a nice curtain call for LaRussa, who will go into the Hall of Fame as soon as he's eligible.
In fact, it might be better to have a retired manager in that role. He isn't trying to juggle his All-Star duty with the day-to-day grind of managing his own team.
n Do the players take it seriously?
Not really. They want to do well, but it's not like it was a long time ago. With free agency and interleague play, the separate identities of the leagues have become diluted.
Players view the game as a chance to hang out with their peers more than a game they're focused on winning. You'll see a lot of hugs rather than hard slides or brushback pitches.
The managers try to get as many people in the game as they can. In a "real" game, the starters would probably play all nine innings.
n Why does every team have to be represented?
Fans of every team deserve to see someone from their team there. The last thing you want is for people in sleepy markets like Kansas City and San Diego to feel like they're even more disenfranchised from the Yankees/Red Sox/Phillies version of MLB that they see on TV.
n Should the fans vote on the starters?
Absolutely. It gives them a chance to participate and it's a huge marketing asset for MLB, which sells sponsorship on the voting.
The fans vote results in some odd choices, but most of them are corrected as extra players are added to the roster.
And the whole deal makes MLB a pile of cash, so it isn't going away.
Mehno can be reached at email@example.com