A baseball season of tempest and peculiarity will remain on the same tortuous path in the All-Star Game Tuesday night at Chicago's Wrigley Field, where the conflict will be provided by a pair of the game's wealthiest performers and the statistical oddities of 1990 will continue to amass.
Missing from the affair will be many of the major ingredients in the season's leading story lines thus far: Six of the seven pitchers who have worked the year's six no-hitters -- including Texas's Nolan Ryan and Oakland's Dave Stewart -- were left off the all-star squads, while only two cogs in the startling turnaround of the Chicago White Sox were selected.
The night certainly will not lack intrigue, though. Baseball's new lifeblood will be on display, 19 players making their first all-star appearances. Included in that figure will be a pair of all-star legacies -- matching in a single game the number of previous father-son all-star selections -- plus a fair share of Martinezes, Alomars and Greg(g) Olsons.
But true to the spirit of bitter combativeness in this season that began with the spring training lockout, perhaps the most interesting sidelight of the evening will come if Jose Canseco manages an early single off probable National League starter Jack Armstrong. That would leave the Oakland Athletics' brash star face to face at first base with the equally immovable Will Clark, Canseco's recent critic in the snide Battle of the Bay.
When Canseco lately became baseball's highest-paid player with a five-year, $23 million contract, Clark (who reached a four-year, $15 million agreement with the San Francisco Giants in the offseason) reacted by saying, "Let that jerk over there have all the fun he wants."
Canseco replied by calling Tuesday's game a chance to do some taunting of his comparatively underpaid counterpart, in the process referring to Clark as a "big, overrated, three-toed sloth with no arms."
The pregame griping took more conventional forms as well. Boston Manager Joe Morgan denounced the failure to include Red Sox pitcher Mike Boddicker and his 10-game winning streak on the AL staff. An Associated Press poll of 11 AL managers found that they'd change four of the league's eight starters elected by fan balloting, leading several of them to reiterate the argument that the choices should be by vote of players and managers.
(However, 10 National League managers would have changed only one starting assignment -- from St. Louis's Ozzie Smith to Cincinnati's Barry Larkin at shortstop.)
The fans voted in Boston's Wade Boggs (.306 with five home runs, through Friday) over Toronto's Kelly Gruber (.299 with 20 homers and 65 RBI). Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken got the nod over the White Sox' Ozzie Guillen despite a 69-point deficit in batting average, while A's first baseman Mark McGwire and his sub-.230 first half kept major league home run and RBI leader Cecil Fielder of the Tigers out of the starting lineup.
Smith and his .233 average will take the field ahead of Larkin, who's at .317. Seattle shortstop Omar Vizquel received 80,134 votes despite being on the disabled list from opening day until the final week of June.
Nevertheless the players seem less resentful than in past years about who's picked and who's not. Boddicker dismissed his snub with a shrug. Larkin accepted his reserve status graciously, saying: "This kind of thing is going to happen. The All-Star Game is for the fans. . . . Until Ozzie is out of the game, he's always going to be the man."
In fact, Mets slugger Darryl Strawberry said the real honor is in being selected as a reserve. "It means more to be picked by the manager," said Strawberrry, who will collect a $25,000 bonus for being named to the NL squad. "That's not a popularity contest. It means you're doing a good job."
Such recognition escaped White Sox outfielder Ivan Calderon, left off the AL squad completely despite fueling Chicago's meteoric rise in the West with his .287 batting average, team-best 40 RBI and 21 stolen bases (third in the league). AL Manager Tony La Russa took Guillen and reliever Bobby Thigpen from the White Sox, but some believe the testiness between his A's and some of Chicago's players contributed to Calderon being passed over.
La Russa even has said his own player, Dave Henderson, was next in line among AL outfielders. And what does that say about the unselected Bo Jackson, the 1989 All-Star Game MVP with current Kansas City figures of .275, 16 homers, 48 RBI?
The A's and Reds lead the way with five players apiece in the game. Cincinnati reliever Randy Myers, traded for John Franco in the offseason, will join the Mets' closer in the NL bullpen.
This All-Star Game promises to be cherished by those playing. Seven of the NL's 10 pitchers, including 35-year-old Dennis Martinez of Montreal and 22-year-old Ramon Martinez of Los Angeles, will be making their initial appearances.
The AL staff includes first-timers Thigpen, Gregg Olson of Baltimore and 6-foot-10 Randy Johnson of Seattle, the lone representative of this year's no-hit parade. Elected to the starting lineup for their first appearances are Philadelphia outfielder Len Dykstra, Cleveland catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. and Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr.
It's a year of lineage. Alomar and his brother, first-time selection Roberto Alomar of the Padres, are the first siblings since Jim and Gaylord Perry 20 years ago to be selected in the same year.
"Everyone in my family will be there. This game is going to be something," said Sandy Alomar, whose father, Sandy Sr., played in the major leagues for 15 years.
But he never made an all-star team, so the Alomars failed to join the Bondses and Griffeys and the past-tense Bells and Boones as father-son all-stars.
This year, first-timer Barry Bonds of Pittsburgh followed in the footsteps of Bobby, whose first all-star game came in 1973. And Griffey Jr. will make his initial appearance while Ken Griffey Sr. -- an all-star in 1976 and 1980, when he hit a home run in a 4-2 NL win -- still is an active player.
(Another player scheduled to make his first appearance, Boston's Ellis Burks, may not play because of a strained hamstring. A's pitcher Bob Welch also is questionable, with a strained hip.)
But perhaps the best story of all is Atlanta catcher Greg Olson, who will become the fourth all-star in history who began the season in the minor leagues. He got to the game the same way he made the Braves' roster this year after 7 1/2 seasons in the minors -- with a combination of perseverance and good fortune.
A journeyman if ever there was, Olson came to the Braves in spring training with a chance of becoming their third-string catcher. He was sent to Class AAA Richmond, however, until a string of events in Atlanta -- free agent acquisition Ernie Whitt didn't produce, John Russell was released, Jody Davis was bought out of his contract and Phil Lombardi retired -- gave him an opportunity.
He has taken advantage, batting .294 with six homers and 25 RBI. Perhaps those aren't typical all-star numbers, but Atlanta needed a representative at the game and would-be NL starter Benito Santiago is on the disabled list with a broken arm. So NL Manager Roger Craig named Olson.
"I never made an all-star team before, in the minors or anywhere," said Olson, who told reporters he was looking forward to the trip to New York until teammate Joe Boever reminded him the game is in Chicago.
Olson said autograph-seekers still confuse him with Baltimore's Gregg Olson and ask him if he's just been traded. He isn't about to complain.
"I don't think anyone could have written a better fairy tale," he said. "I'm in a dream world."