SAN FRANCISCO -- There's so much talk about what should change at the All-Star Game. Should each team be represented? Should milestone-setters like Craig Biggio, Frank Thomas and Sammy Sosa get invited? Should we really be deciding homefield advantage in the World Series through an exhibition?
Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon has more pressing concerns. This game is certainly for the fans but he doesn't want everything to be about the fans every day. His crusade: Baseball should consider eliminating radar guns on stadium scoreboards and facades.
"It's a total advantage to a hitter," Papelbon, who has 20 saves, said here Monday. "If I'm throwing 98 [mph] pitch after pitch, a batter can get set for what's coming. If I'm throwing 93, they might know I'm not feeling as well.
"Why don't we just tell guys what's coming? It's terrible. They'll know what range your fastball is and what your offspeed stuff is. I have no idea why they started doing this."
Stadium radar guns have become an issue in recent postseasons. Some teams have been accused of tampering with the readings for opposing pitchers, making them lower so the pitcher might feel like he's not working as well.
At other times, accurate guns have been able to pinpoint pitchers with tired arms such as the less-than-usual pop on the fastball last October from Detroit reliever Joel Zumaya in St. Louis.
"I never really thought about it, but I certainly think it could help a hitter," added Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander, who routinely hit 98-102 mph during his no-hitter against Milwaukee last month. "It's information for them that a pitcher doesn't get about them."
"A lot of these guns are juiced anyway," Papelbon said. "They're not accurate. Why give people bad information? It's really something they should look at."
Cleveland pitcher C.C. Sabathia is a San Francisco-area native who said he had no problem yielding the starting assignment to Dan Haren, who pitches across the Bay in Oakland.
"I'm just so happy to be in this game this year," said Sabathia (12-3, 3.58 ERA). "I'm going to have so many friends here and I'm just going to enjoy it so much."
And if Sabathia gets to pitch to Barry Bonds?
"I faced him in Houston [in 2004] and got him, but it can be intimidating," Sabathia said.
Phillies slugger Ryan Howard, the defending champion in the Home Run Derby, admitted Bonds would have had to rate as the favorite had he opted to participate. Bonds hosted a VIP party on the city's waterfront Monday night and did not participate in the derby. He did take batting practice with the National League.
"This is his park," Howard said. "You know, all of the balls in McCovey Cove, he has more balls in than all of us combined. You definitely have to give him the advantage. Plus, he's got his hometown crowd here, so he would have to be.
"You see Barry hit a lot in [the Cove], and it's actually a lot harder to do than a lot of people think."
The only no-show for the afternoon news conferences was enigmatic Boston slugger Manny Ramirez, whose table directly next door to teammate David Ortiz sat vacant. That drew big laughs from Big Papi.
"He's here, don't you worry," Ortiz said. "I saw him myself. Sometimes you just have to tell him where to be and what time he's got to go."
So did Ortiz tell Ramirez it was time to go to the news conferences?
"Hey, I had to drag him on the airplane to get out here," Ortiz said smiling. "What more can I do?"