Buster Olney on MFB: ‘I feel bad that everyone involved has to pretend that this [All-Star Game] matters'

July 16, 2014 - 10:31 am

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney joined Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the controversy surrounding Adam Wainwright and Derek Jeter during the All-Star Game, Jon Lester'€™s contract negotiations with the Red Sox and the season outlook for Boston. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page. After surrendering a leadoff double to Jeter to open the All-Star Game, Wainwright admitted after his outing that he gave Jeter, who was playing in his final Midsummer Classic, a few "pitches he could handle." Wainwright later backtracked from his comments, adding that it was supposed to be a joke. Olney leaned in favor of Wainwright, as many pitchers have done the same thing before in an effort to honor a retiring player on the national stage. "I kind of felt bad for [Wainwright]," Olney said. "First off, Adam Wainwright is one of the really great people in the sport. He's honest and he's earnest and to what he originally said, he just spoke the truth. What he originally said that he did, that's been going on for years and years and years. ... It's a pitcher's way of honoring a hitter." Olney added: "I feel bad that everyone involved has to pretend that this game matters, which is really the basic problem in this thing, where Adam can't really come out and say, 'Hey, it's an exhibition game and I wanted to give Derek an opportunity to enjoy the stage,' and instead everyone has to do all this backtracking and pretend that something happened than what actually did happen." While Jeter received a large amount of praise during the All-Star Game, there was no mention or ceremony for either Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn or long-time manager Don Zimmer, both of whom passed away this year. Olney said that he was shocked that there was no dedication for Gwynn during the game. "I was surprised," Olney said. "It's certainly, in the case of Tony, because he's a Hall of Famer, we see it at the Oscars every year, where they roll the videotape of all those who've been lost the year before in the film industry, and I was surprised at the very least that that wasn't done on behalf of Tony." While the drama surrounding contract talks between Lester and the Red Sox continue to be a hot topic in Boston, Olney said that unless the Red Sox make a huge offer, no new developments will likely develop until the offseason rolls in. "I don't think there's anything new in the Lester thing," Olney said. "As I told you guys last week, I think unless the Red Sox come in and wave the white flag and give him a lot more than they were willing to give him in spring training, like $120 million, I think he's going to go into the offseason and prepare for free agency. At some point between now and Nov. 1, the Red Sox are going to have to make up their mind, 'Do we let Jon Lester go or are we going to make an aggressive offer to keep him?' I just don't think there's going to be conversations in the second half unless its complete capitulations by the Red Sox." Olney said that even if the odds are stacked against Boston, the team needs to make a big push once the second half of the season kicks off. "I'm doing everything I can in the first two weeks, leading up to the trade deadline, of winning as many games as possible and managing in that vein of trying to get back into the race," Olney said. "Do I think it's going to happen? No. Is it a long shot? Absolutely. ... Is there an opportunity for a team like the Rays, the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Blue Jays to get closer? Absolutely. I think at least at the outset of the second half, you have to play it that way." For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.