Phillies All-Stars represent their half-done 2021 perfectly

Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Tropicana Field on September 26, 2020 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Zack Wheeler #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning at Tropicana Field on September 26, 2020 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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The Philadelphia Phillies season thus far has been a train wreck that has somehow stayed on the track. As the mid-season point approached, the team hovered near the .500 mark, and their fans prayed management would trade something for a real closer and a fielding instructor.

Somehow, though, the Phillies won a series against the talented San Diego Padres just before Independence Day, and some fans who didn’t understand exactly what was going on were paying attention to the team’s All-Star selections.

Or to be fair, maybe it’s a simple matter of civic pride to care who is selected to the alleged Mid-summer Classic.

The Phillies All-Star selections represent their half-baked season perfectly.

After all the ballots were cast, two players were picked to represent the Phillies, and they reflect perfectly the team’s season thus far. Zack Wheeler and J.T. Realmuto were chosen for the All-Star squad.

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Neither was chosen by the fans. Pitchers aren’t ever chosen by the MLB fans now; they’re chosen, like the reserves, by the players, coaches and the mysterious voters hanging around the Commissioner’s Office. This scheme is apparently the result of thinking that boils down to: “Well, yeah, the fans can probably pick eight acceptable starters, but they’ll surely screw up the pitching staffs, and they really can’t be trusted to pick the second-best players.”

And none of that is really wrong, is it?

In any event, the Phillies chosen this year make perfect symbolic sense. One player, Wheeler, represents accomplishment. The other, Realmuto, represents the real talent, but unfulfilled potential, of the 39-42 Phillies at the halfway mark.

Wheeler is sporting a 2.05 ERA, and leads MLB with 139 strikeouts in 114 innnings pitched. The big right-hander’s fluid, powerful deliveries would make him the Cy Young Award leader among NL pitchers if it weren’t for that guy in New York. There’s no way Wheeler’s selection, his career first, can be seen as inappropriate.

Realmuto’s selection, his career third, can be argued against, however, and should probably be seen as a sign of respect for him by his peers. Before play on Sunday, the Phillies backstop ranked no higher among NL starting catchers than fifth in OPS, doubles, and home runs.

However, Realmuto is seen “among the best in baseball, and not just catchers,” as a friend recently put it, and if you had to bet on any catcher throwing out any potential base stealer, your money belongs on the pile for the guy in red pinstripes.

On July 4th the Phillies took the field for their 81st contest this season. They had a chance to sweep the Padres, who stand a much better chance of reaching the post-season than Philadelphia does. The Phils fell flat on their faces, losing 11-1. Their lone tally resulted from a Realmuto homer.

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In other words, more unfulfilled potential and more symbolism from the Phillies, right?