Whether Connie Mack was correct -- pitching is 75 percent of the game -- or the recent statistical analysis is more accurate in assessing a 25 percent level of important to pitching, there's no debate that the game doesn't start until a pitcher throws the ball.
Over the years, however, while fans have been allowed to select the starting lineup for the American League and the National League in the All-Star game, they haven't had a chance to make their feelings known in terms of pitching.
In MLB's never-ending effort to jazz up the game, why not add a starting pitcher in the AL and NL to the fan ballot?
So would it really matter if the elected starting pitcher wound up being used on the Saturday or Sunday before the All-Star Game, and had to be scratched? The fans would have still had their say. The pitcher would still have the distinction on their resume. And the manager of the team would select the replacement -- just like he would if an outfielder, infielder or catcher was unavailable.
Having to decide on a pitcher from each league might be the most challenging of decisions the fans would have to make. Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers, Johnny Cueto of the Giants and Jake Arietta of the Cubs went into Wednesday holding the NL lead with 11-1 records. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals (10-1) and Zack Greinke of the D-backs (10-3) were one victory back.
The analytics folks, however, don't put stock in victories for individual pitchers. So some fans might turn to other numbers, and there are Kershaw (1.57) and Arietta (1.74), ranked 1-2 in the NL in ERA.
Don't ignore Madison Bumgarner of the Giants, who is third in the NL with a 1.88 ERA (8-3 record), and Noah Syndergaard of the Mets, who is 7-2 but fourth in the NL with a 1.91 ERA. Strasburg, meanwhile, ranks 13th with a 2.90 ERA, and Greinke 25th at 3.54.
However, Steven Wright of the Red Sox (8-4) leads the AL with a 2.01 ERA, but he is a knuckleball pitcher, which creates a special challenge for the catcher. Danny Salazar of the Indians (8-3) ranks second in the AL with a 2.23 ERA.
So what would happen when the fans starting casting votes?
Would they lean toward the traditional numbers -- likes wins and losses -- or take a more analytical approach and give an edge in the area of ERA?
Maybe someday baseball will find out.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.