The last time the National League won an All-Star game was in 1996.

Back then, the Braves were represented by John Smoltz (who got the win), Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Mark Wohlers, Fred McGriff, and Chipper Jones.

The Braves will again be represented by a handful of players this year. Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, Tim Hudson, and Brian McCann were all expected (at least somewhat) by fans.

Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel will manage the NL All-Star team this year, and by all indications he is completely serious about winning. Why do I say that? He chose Omar Infante.

Many people will question Manuel’s selection of Omar Infante.

I don’t agree with it. Infante isn’t an “All-Star.” He would rarely start on his own team if not for injuries. No one will argue that Infante is one of the best players in the National League, and he clearly isn’t in the same league as Joey Votto or Ryan Zimmerman.

That being said, by choosing Infante, Manuel is showing us that he wants to win this game. Infante may not truly be an All-Star, but he is probably the best utility player in the league, and every team needs a good utility player.

Infante’s stat line this year is .309/1/22 in 177 plate appearances. While they are solid numbers, and Infante could start on most teams, they still aren’t worthy of an All-Star selection.

But Infante will bring something to the All-Star game that isn’t usually there. He can play just about any position and is used to coming off the bench. While players like Votto and Zimmerman are great, they don’t bring the same thing to the team as Infante.

I’m not saying that the selection of Infante is correct, but maybe, just maybe, his experience coming off the bench will finally give the NL the advantage it needs. While Manuel will be criticized for not picking the best players, he may well have made his overall team better by picking a player who fits better into his role.

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