Despite this year's somewhat embarrassing one representative showing, the White Sox have not been invisible in recent All-Star Games. There's a history, and it's a proud one.
Just this past season in 2014, Alexei Ramirez treated fans to a sublime performance in his first--and likely only--All-Star appearance. First, he replaced Derek Jeter in the game, effectively ending The Captain's existence on Earth and allowing him to return home. Next, he singled, scored, and collected just the third All-Star Game stolen base in franchise history. Most importantly, he wagged his finger, mockingly, at nearly every opportunity. He wagged it when he slid in safe at second, he wagged it when he was nearly picked off third. He might have wagged it during press availability or in the post-game shower. It was hilarious, possibly mostly due to its absurdity. Bryce Harper wagging his finger would be menacing braggadocio, but Alexei was a reserve filling in at a bombed-out AL shortstop position, mocking baseball's best! He has a .541 OPS this season, so maybe he should start doing it again. It would have the same effect.
A year earlier, Chris Sale murdered two prominent members of the Colorado Rockies during two shutout innings. Normally an egregious and inhuman act, Sale's dispatching of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez on the field of sport was, and continues to be celebrated by our grotesque society.
The preceding two years before that, Paul Konerko heroically, thrillingly, drew walks in back-to-back All-Star games.
Obviously there were some lowlights. Carlos Quentin made the team in 2008 and 2010 and went 0-for-6, Matt Thornton lost the 2010 game nearly singlehandedly, and as usual, the less said about James Baldwin's conduct in 2000, the better. But we also got three shutout innings from Sox pitching (Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland) in 2005, Konerko had two-hit games in 2006 and 2002, Magglio Ordonez clocked a home run--one of two in franchise history--in 2001.
Historically, the most boffo White Sox All-Star Game numbers come from the earlier years where players played longer. Gary Peters' three perfect innings in 1967 with four strikeouts is the most impressive pitching performance in Sox All-Star Game history, though Billy Pierce threw three innings in the game three times during that decade.
Centerfielder Al Simmons owns the only three-hit White Sox All-Star Game, in 1934 when he went to the plate five times. Minnie Minoso had back-to-back two hit games in 1953 and 1954. During his full-blown God-Mode between 1993-95, Frank Thomas made one out in six plate appearances. His last plate appearance of that stretch saw him snake the first home run in White Sox All-Star Game history around the left field foul pole.
So where does Chris Sale's workload concern-drive no-show put him among the greatest performances in Sox All-Star Game history? It immediately places him alongside White Sox greats Billy Pierce, Gary Peters, Goose Gossage, Early Wynn and Wilbur Wood, all of whom made All-Star teams that they contributed no value to. An All-Star Game no-show is also a critical bullet on the Hall of Fame resume of Mark Buehrle; famously a mentor to Sale. Sale's absence recalls the glory days of 2005-06, the last 90-win teams in franchise history.
Fresh off their World Series victory and after a thunderous first half of 2006, the Sox were the toast of baseball. The exclamation mark on this reign of dominance was unquestionably at the 2006 All-Star Game, when Buehrle, Bobby Jenks, and Jose Contreras all joined hands and did not pitch in the actual game. Bobby Jenks, was the absolute master. He made back-to-back All-Star teams in 2006 and 2007, and pitched in neither game. Reinsdorf should commission a statue of the man, one that never gets made.
Take a lesson, gang: if the Sox do intend to return to their glory days, having a pitcher make the All-Star team and then not pitch is the crucial starting point. Just as Billy Pierce did not pitch in the 1959 All-Star Game before the Sox won the pennant, so too did Jake Peavy not pitch in the 2012 All-Star Game, and did not represent the last competitive White Sox team. Chris Sale didn't stand on the mound last night, because he was too busy standing at the precipice of a Golden Age.