FYI: A copy of this letter was pushed under manager Tom Kelly's door at the Minnesota Twins' downtown Baltimore hotel sometime after midnight last night. So as not to attract attention, It was delivered by a Sun courier disguised as one of the 8,000 delegates scheduled to attend the Delta Sigma Theta sorority national convention beginning tomorrow in town. The envoy wore a name tag saying: "Hi! I'm Tiffany from Texas Tech! Who are you?"
I must admit, this works out well. You are going to wake up today, order room service coffee and eggs, turn on "Regis and Kathie Lee" and pick the rest of the American League All-Star team. The pitchers and reserves. You get to make all the calls. You are managing the team. (By the way, congratulations!) And here you are in Baltimore on the big day. Why, this could be the last thing you read before making up your mind.
We need to talk. (In case you are wondering who I am, let me just say that strangers are sending me money in the mail right now. I received three quarters and a dollar bill yesterday, pushing the total near $20. I won't get into explaining right now, but I think you can tell I am not just some piker.)
OK. So let's talk. Could you turn down the sound on "Regis and Kathie Lee"? You won't miss anything, I promise. I want you to pay attention. This is important.
This is about Brady Anderson and Mike Mussina. They should be on your All-Star team, Tom.
Don't dismiss this as just another "homer" lobby from someone who doesn't understand the other teams have players, too. I know you have tough choices. I know it didn't help that the fans voted in Sandy Alomar Jr. again. (What is it with him? Does he have compromising photographs of the entire country?) I know the Angels don't have anyone who belongs. I know there are too many pitchers.
I know it's a tough job and you have given it a lot of thought. And by the way, I'm not just saying that to shamelessly flatter you and maybe curry favor. But I do want to say I know you are from New Jersey and I think the things people say about your state are unfair. I have been to most of the rest stops on the Turnpike, and they are among the best.
OK, so about these players. Let's start with Anderson. As I see it, here is your outfield situation: With Kirby Puckett, Ken Griffey Jr. and probably Dave Winfield starting, that leaves you three choices from among Anderson, Joe Carter, Mike Devereaux, Juan Gonzalez, Shane Mack and Ruben Sierra.
Tom, it isn't a tough call. Anderson, Carter and Sierra make it. The other two are having their usual big years, and Anderson is right with them. Jose Canseco would have made things difficult had he not gone on the DL, but Anderson deserved it ahead of him anyway. Anderson has a higher batting average, more RBI, nine times as many steals, almost as many homers and plays the outfield better.
Gonzalez? Not a bad choice with 18 homers and 50 RBI, but no steals. Devereaux? He and Anderson are a push in homers, RBI and average, but Anderson has those 28 steals and Devo just four.
That's the thing. Besides Puckett, no outfielder has contributed more in more ways than Anderson. Power, RBI, steals, brilliant defense. Anderson could start ahead of Griffey on merit. As it is, the least he deserves is a place on the team.
Do it, Tom. (Oh, and another thing: I think it's beautiful New Jersey has all those toxic waste dumps. I mean it. It's just so selfless.)
Which brings us to Mussina. And I hate to gush like Kathie Lee, but the kid is phenomenal, Tom. He has the majors' best ERA since the start of last September. He hasn't thrown a bad game all season. Can any other pitcher claim that?
He is 9-3 with a 2.40 ERA, and, with any luck, would be undefeated. In his three losses -- losses -- he gave up an average of three runs. How can you not take a pitcher who has been sharp every game? What else can he do?
I understand it's tough. You have to take Roger Clemens, Dennis Eckersley, Juan Guzman, Jack McDowell, Kevin Brown, Charles Nagy, Kevin Appier and Mark Langston. (The last three because their teams need a rep.) And there are other qualified choices, including Gregg Olson, Rick Aguilera, Jeff Russell, Jeff Montgomery, Jack Morris, Bill Krueger and Dave Fleming.
But, Tom, Mussina belongs before those others. Just look at his ERA, his opponents' .233 average. He has a seamless candidacy. And in closing, let me just say that I think you are a fine man with a terrific sense of humor.