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Picking all-stars tough job for managers Brenly, Torre

Controversy and complaints. Every year it's the same thing.

After the Major League Baseball All-Star selections are made, the players, managers, and fans are outraged over the players bypassed in the process.

Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Paul Lo Duca is one of those fuming. He's hitting .319 with four homers and 37 RBIs, but was omitted from the National League roster by Arizona manager Bob Brenly.

It's doesn't help that Arizona is chasing LA in the Western Division race. Brenly picked six Diamondback players including second baseman Junior Spivey.

But Brenly's not the only manager to try and avoid the darts thrown in his direction. American League skipper Joe Torre picked three of his Yankees to go with the three voted to start. There were seven last year.

One question raised was Torre's choice of carrying five shortstops. The only second baseman is starter Alfonso Soriano, and you'll never guess who is his manager.

Okay, you guessed.

But Brenly wouldn't be in such trouble if he hadn't listened to Torre's advice in picking the all-star team. That's right, Torre told Brenly how to to fill out his roster.

Unknown to the two managers, I was in the next room and could hear their conversation. In fact, I taped the whole thing and now I'm going to play it back for you.

"I need some help, Joe. This is my first time as the All-Star manager and I need to pick a strong but fair roster," said Brenly.

"Fair? Get serious. You better take care of your own. You have to face them the rest of the season and they have bonuses in their contracts. Besides, you're the world champions," said Torre.

"Is that the way you pick the team?" asked Brenly.

"Sure. That and the fact Robin Ventura's got a hot woman. And she always sits right at my end of the dugout," said Torre.

"Why are you taking five shortstops? I know they're good, but isn't Omar Vizquel kind of a stretch," said Brenly.

"Well, if you only have one second baseman, he gets to play the whole game. With that kind of exposure, he's sure to get voted in about every year," said Torre.

"That's another thing. You had three starters which made it easier to take six players. I had three good pitchers and then had to pick three position players as reserves," said Brenly.

"That's easily fixed," said Torre. "Whenever we get in an early blowout, I always get bring out my portable computer, log on to MLB.com and start voting. I would have had Derek Jeter starting at shortstop but I heard that sneak (Texas manager Jerry) Narron found out what I was doing and he did the same thing for Alex Rodriguez."

"Well, Luis Gonzalez deserved to be in the outfield, but there are so many good outfielders it's hard to choose. I see that's the only position where you don't have a Yankee," said Brenly.

"I don't have any outfielders even close to being picked, but that'll change. We traded for Raul Mondesi Monday and it was after the selections, so I couldn't pick him as a reserve. But there's always someone who can't go to the game and that leaves the door open for me to pick him," said Torre.

"He has decent home run and RBI numbers, and he's a good defensive player, but his batting average is around .230. How can you justify that?" ask Brenly.

"I guess you haven't seen his woman, either," said Torre. Jim Walker/The Ironton Tribune