Tomorrow's All-Star Game starters at Comerica Park, Mark Buehrle and Chris Carpenter, while more-or-less deserving candidates this year, are pretty anonymous to casual fans. Buehrle, in particular, has been an above-average pitcher for a long time, though only above average. How long has it been since there were no famous All-Star starters? While there have been some one-year wonders to start games (Esteban Loaiza and Charles Nagy), it doesn't often happen in the same year. You have to go all the way back to 1984 to find a game in which neither starter has ever finished as high as second in a Cy Young Award vote. Buehrle or Carpenter may get there this year, but there's a long way to go, and even still, they hardly belong with the starters of All-Star past: Maddux, Johnson, Smoltz, Martinez, Schilling, Glavine, Clemens, Gooden.
There are other All-Star matchups that history has forgotten or will forget. Bob Welch against Jack Armstrong in 1990 is high among them, though Welch would win one of the great fluke Cy Young Awards of all time. But the last time neither side could boast a starter with a career top two finish in the Cy Young voting was 1984, when Charlie Lea of the Expos squared off against Dave Stieb of the Blue Jays in a matchup that must have captivated the US. I think we've got a Lea v. Stieb tomorrow night.
The '85 starters, twenty years ago, were the Tigers' Jack Morris and the Padres' La Marr Hoyt (the '83 Cy Young winner) in a World Series rematch. Morris, for his career, would finish third in Cy Young voting twice and in the top ten seven times, but never cracked the top two, despite a thick mustache, an unmatched World Series resume, and towering win totals.