We're but a week away from the 2023 MLB All-Star game in Seattle, and with every year comes a list of players who will be argued for their appearance to be at the annual game. One of those players is Fernando Tatis Jr. The San Diego Padres' outfielder is one of the biggest snubs of this year's game.
Did Fernando Tatis Jr. deserve to be an All-Star
Since going 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in his first game back in the MLB after being handed a 80-game suspension due to performance enhancing drug use, Tatis has been nothing short of what he was before. While the Padres as a team have left a lot to be desired this season after putting together a roster that posts the second largest payroll in the league, Tatis has been one of team's bright spots.
Tatis currently has the best batting average (.280) and slugging percentage (.526) on the team, and is just behind Juan Soto in OPS (.867). He also leads the team in home runs (16) and stolen bases (14). Mind you that Tatis has accomplished all this after missing the first 20 games of the season, having still serving his suspension. Not to mention that Tatis has now been occupying a new position in right field after the Padres signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts in the offseason. Tatis has been nothing short of exceptional in the since moving to the outfield.
So, why was he given the snub?
Fernando Tatis Jr. is still paying for PED suspension
The MLB All-Star Game holds significance not only for fans but also for the players themselves. While the fans elect most of the starters, the players also have a say in the selection process. In the case of Tatis, both seemed to have their effect on his snubbing from the game.
The voting results indicate that some players may still hold Tatis's suspension against him, despite him having served his penalty and, presumably, returning as a member in good standing. The fact that Tatis wasn't even elected suggests a brash statement by the players, indicating that he still must suffer additional punishment for his past transgressions.
“It is still rare for a player to openly criticize a teammate or rival who is caught using PEDs,” The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal wrote. “But when it comes to Tatis, I can picture players sitting at lockers filling out their ballots and thinking, ‘F— this guy.'”
Whoever those potential players were that didn't vote for him, his teammate Manny Machado wasn't one of them.
“It’s some BS that he’s not there,” Machado said, via The San Diego Tribune. “But we all know that there’s some politics in this, unfortunately. It’s not the right thing to do. He’s going out there. He paid his dues and he did what he needed to do last year and as far as him going out there and playing and performing every day, he’s lived up to that. He’s exceeded it and he’s put this team on his back for the first half and he deserved to be an All-Star and he’s not.”
In the game of baseball, the crime of PED use is never rendered complete. Players who have been found guilty will never be short of being found criticized, while those in the inner workings, from the players to the front offices, are quick to ostracize.
Tatis is yet another reminder that we are still seeing remnants of the infamous steroid era coming into play. The consequences of that era are still felt to this today, as players continue to face scrutiny even after serving their suspensions. There is seemingly no balance between holding players accountable for their actions and allowing them the opportunity to redeem themselves. The exemption from the Hall of Fame is the greatest of example of this; the All-Star game is now another, just on a much smaller scale.
It all comes down to trust. Whether that's fans or players, Tatis' past now makes him untrustworthy. Because the question always becomes: Can Tatis really be one of the best players in baseball if he was caught using PED's? That will always be a stain on his career, whether rightfully so or not. It's for sure what will keep him out of the 2023 MLB All-Star game, and what will probably keep him out of the Hall of Fame in the future.
Ultimately, the All-Star game is all about showcasing who the best players in the league are, allowing them to display their impressive talents to the world. Although it's nothing but an exhibition game, the significance of it lies in the byproduct of representation.
The MLB doesn't just want the best talent on the field, they want the best citizens on the field. The All-Star game is likely to bring in the best and brightest baseball fans from all over the country, which means they'll be all too familiar with Tatis' suspension. It's doubtful the league would want to witness a similar situation like the one that occurred back at Yankee Stadium in May that had New York fans ripping Tatis whether he was in the outfield or at the plate. The MLB doesn't want that kind of attention or distraction in one of its largest showcases.
Fernando Tatis Jr.'s All-Star snub signals it's time to move on
While it is understandable that some players may still harbor reservations, it is important to recognize the progress Tatis has made both on and off the field. Denying him the chance to showcase his talents sends a message that the league and its players are unwilling to move past his suspension. This is a consistent flaw of the league and one that must rectified in the future, or else the game is never going to move on.