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July 6, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

The Perils of Pain Medication

by Joe Sheehan

The toothache I gently alluded to yesterday is still with me, so consider yourselves warned: I'm medicated.

A number of people have legitimate beefs over their being handed a three-day vacation next week rather than an all-expenses-paid trip to Atlanta. Keith Foulke, Frank Thomas and Danny Graves come to mind immediately. But the player with the best case didn't even make ESPN.com's insta-poll for "Who was most snubbed?"

By any measure, Kris Benson has been the third- or fourth-best starter in the NL this year. Yet Bobby Cox put veterans Darryl Kile and his own Tom Glavine on the team instead of the Pirates' Benson. It's an inexplicable decision, made more so by the presence of Jason Kendall. Kendall was deserving, but not as much as Benson; if the problem was three Pirates, why not take the best two, especially since Cox already had one backup catcher in Mike Lieberthal?

Leaving Benson off in favor of Glavine, Kile and Shane Reynolds is a strange decision, and really an indefensible one.

Something strange happened in the AL as well, where the Orioles were left without an All-Star Game participant. With Cal Ripken voted onto the team but unable to play, I assumed the league would add Charles Johnson or even Mussina, to ensure that the Orioles had a player actually in the game.

It's odd because the league bypassed the Devil Rays' Greg Vaughn to take Fred McGriff, who is roughly as deserving as Jeff Bower. If making sure Tampa Bay's sole representative would actually be available to play was important, shouldn't the Orioles have received similar consideration?

I could have lived without Derek Jeter, as well. In fact, when I look at the teams, the players I have the most problems with are Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Glavine and Kile. I guess I'll leave it to the reader to find any patterns in that data.

The important things to remember are that the game is an exhibition and that by Saturday, none of this will matter to anyone. Unlike the postseason awards, these controversies have shelf lives that compare nicely to "She's the Sheriff."

Returning to some very old news, I'm happy to say that I'm ready to re-award the NL DiSar Award to Shawon Dunston, who finally drew a walk after 92 at-bats. Dunston edged Placido Polanco and blew temporary honoree Orlando Cabrera out of the water.

Congratulations, Shawon. Don't go near J.D. Drew, OK?

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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