Tag: 2010 MLB All-Star Game

Stephen Strasburg-Less ASG Receives Lowest Ratings Ever…Go Figure

So by now I’m sure you all know that the 2010 All-Star game received the lowest ratings ever. Like, ever ever. 

And now, the head honchos and suits at MLB are sitting around a table, wondering what they could have done differently, and what they can do next year, to ensure that baseball doesn’t continue to fall by the wayside, a sloppy second to the NFL.

Well, I have an idea for you MLB!!! You should have allowed Stephen Strasburg to take part in the festivities.

And not just because he throws over 100 miles per hour.

And not just because he sold out a Nationals game, and had fans risking urinary tract infections.

And not just because he drew season-high crowds to Cleveland and Florida.

And not just because, at the time of the break, he had an eye-popping 61 strikeouts in 42.2 innings, and a WHIP near 1.00.

And not just because he has brought excitement to a city that hasn’t had any since the Redskins won the Super Bowl in 1991.

Oh, wait…yeah, it is for ALL of those reasons.

The National League had no problem sending rookie-sensation Jason Heyward, who has 123 fewer at-bats than Martin Prado, 85 fewer than Ryan Theriot, and 28 less than fellow rookie Ike Davis.

But Strasburg, who had only made seven big league starts, and had already proved to be one of the top five pitchers in all of baseball gets shafted because the coaching staffs and baseball felt he didn’t have enough playing time under his belt.

I can understand if Charlie Manuel was trying to win the game to get the Phillies home-field advantage if they somehow manage to sneak into the playoffs, but wouldn’t you want a guy who could come in and shut down a potent AL offense with 100 mph heat in the ninth inning?

And if the players and coaches, and baseball for that matter, are just still treating the All-Star game like a glorified exhibition game, then wouldn’t you want a player who already ranks as one of the most marketable players in all of baseball?

I guess not.

And because of it, MLB has to worry about fixing the lowest-rated Midsummer Classic ever.

Honestly, though, wasn’t the most exciting part of the All-Star game, for those of us who watched it, getting to see a handful of guys who throw harder than anyone else in the game (Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, and David Price)?

Toss Strasburg into that arena, and the game becomes a baseball fan’s wet dream.

I guess we’ll all have to settle for next year.

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Subjectivity Objectified: Measuring MLB Fans’ Biases With All-Star Votes

It doesn’t take a hardcore sabermetrician to realize that the All-Star vote is a sham. After all, the best catcher in the game (Miguel Olivo) received only the 11th-most votes at his position, and Omar Infante made the cut while MVP candidate Ryan Zimmerman had to sit at home (not the fans’ fault, but still). 

But even if it’s impossible to distinguish the game’s best players by looking at the vote totals, I wondered if it would be possible to gather some more unorthodox information from the results: namely, the impact of fans’ biases on their ballots.

I quickly scratched out an equation for a statistic I made up, called “All-Star Score,” to measure how deserving a player is of fans’ votes for the Midsummer Classic:

All-Star Score = (Wins Above Replacement* + 2) ^ 2

*—numbers as of the All-Star Game

I calculated the All-Star Scores for each player listed on the ballot and added them together. I then added up the total All-Star votes cast (Major League Baseball releases the vote totals for only the Top 25 outfielders and Top 8 vote-getters at other positions per league, so I used 300,000 as a baseline for those players whose results were not available) and divided that by the composite All-Star Score to find out what the average All-Star Score Point was worth (just under 74,000 votes).

Finally, I calculated the votes-per-All-Star Score Points ratios for each team, then divided that by the league average to get an estimate of what proportion of votes each team’s players got relative to what they deserved. The numbers below show each team’s relative figure as a percentage—a “Bias Score” of 100 would mean the team received exactly the right amount of support (of course, no club came out at 100).

I’m fully aware of the flaws in my experiment: the statistics used were compiled after the voting, not during it; I’m sure my 300,000-vote estimate for the lower-tier players is extremely generous to some and a big low-ball to others; and, of course, there’s no guarantee that my little equation represents the ideal proportion of All-Star votes a candidate should receive.

Nonetheless, I think the results are both telling and interesting.


Tier 1: The Unloved (79 and below)

1 White Sox 47
2 Royals 47
3 Athletics 48
4 Padres 49
5 Giants 50
6 Cubs 56
7 D-Backs 57
8 Blue Jays 59
9 Indians 59
10 Nationals 59
11 Orioles 60
12 Rockies 66

If you look at the vote totals, seeing the Royals and A’s at the top of the list shouldn’t come as a surprise—they’re two of the three miserable teams that didn’t get a single player on the voting leaderboards.

Meanwhile, the starting nine for the Orioles—the only other club to be completely neglected—have been so bad that Baltimore landed in the middle third of the Bias Scores despite having the absolute minimum number of votes. Ouch.

It’s no surprise to see struggling teams like the Indians and Diamondbacks fall this low, but I would have expected Padres, Blue Jays, and Nationals fans to show their favorite players a little more love in light of their teams’ expectations-beating early performances. And I’m shocked that the Rockies haven’t been able to generate more excitement, what with their recent string of comeback wins in playoff races.

However, I’d say the biggest upsets here are the teams from Chicago—particularly the Cubs. North Side fans have a reputation of being among the most loyal and passionate in baseball (after more than a century without a championship, they’d have to be). It’s a telling sign that something is very wrong in Wrigleyville.


Tier 2: The Average (80 to 120)

13 Marlins 80
14 Pirates 81
15 Reds 84
16 Red Sox 90
17 Astros 102
18 Mariners 114
19 Rangers 120


The first team that jumps out at you here is Boston—how can Red Sox Nation be classified as a relatively unbiased fanbase? Take a look at the leaderboards and it becomes clear.

Adrian Beltre finished behind Michael Young, Kevin Youkilis got barely half the votes of scuffling Mark Teixeira, even local hero David Ortiz fell behind the anemic Hideki Matsui. Derek Jeter has been better than Marco Scutaro, fine, but does he really deserve six times as many votes?

Two teams in this grouping redefine pathetic. A 20th-place finish for Andrew McCutchen is enough to put the Pirates squarely in the middle of the pack because their eight candidates have combined to be of less value than Dan Uggla.

Astros fans, meanwhile, turn out to have a positive bias because of Lance Berkman’s eighth-place finish at first base. That’s what happens when your team has a negative composite WAR .

The two AL West teams are both interesting cases. The Mariners don’t have much of a reputation for a strong fan base, but people love Ichiro and the now-retired Ken Griffey Jr. raked in over a million votes.

Given that the Rangers have the third-highest team vote total in the game, you might expect them to have a far higher Bias Score. But you might not realize that Texas also has the third-highest composite WAR.


Tier 3: The Coddled (121-150)

20 Tigers 126
21 Angels 129
22 Dodgers 129
23 Cardinals 134
24 Brewers 138
25 Mets 146


Most of these names were pretty predictable. The Brewers are probably the most surprising team to be ranked this far up. Their high score is entirely the fault of Ryan Braun, who led all outfielders with just under 3 million votes despite a significant offensive dropoff and horrific defense, even by his standards.


Tier 4: The Overindulgent (151-190)

26 Braves 159
27 Rays 163
28 Twins 171
29 Phillies 181

Eight years ago, the Twins were on the verge of falling victim to contraction. Three years ago, the Rays had never finished a season with more than 70 wins. If you’d said then that both teams would soon have some of the most passionate fans in baseball, you would have been laughed out of the room.


Tier 5: The Insane (191 and up)

30 Yankees 199


I’m sure some commenter will accuse me of writing this article for the sole purpose of blasting the Yankees. I’ll say here for the first and only time that, while their coming out on top was somewhat predictable, this is just how it happened.

Just look at the vote totals. A-Rod over Beltre two-to-one, Curtis Granderson over Alex Rios by a nearly three-to-one margin, Teixeira over Paul Konerko almost five-to-one, Jeter over Cliff Pennington by over 10-to-one . Is there any logical explanation for that? And this isn’t even taking into consideration Nick Swisher’s Final Vote victory over Youkilis.

I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t a definitive study—the rankings would surely be shuffled around if the full, precise vote totals were available (especially towards the lower end), and I don’t think anyone believes for a second that fans in Houston are more loyal than their counterparts in Boston.

But I still think the results are somewhat telling, so in the future, fans in Minnesota and Wisconsin might want to think twice before complaining about East Coast bias.

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George Steinbrenner’s Death: There Will Never Be Another Like Him

When news broke out that Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner had passed Tuesday morning, I predictably got a few texts from friends asking if I was planning on writing about “The Boss.”

At first I hesitated; too much had happened before I was even born. I had never met him in person. What perspective could I possibly give, that a million other writers couldn’t?

Then I really started to think about George. I thought about the way he ran his organization with the iron fist of a South American dictator. I thought about the way he controlled every word that came in and out of his clubhouse like the Russians controlled information during the Cold War.

I thought about the way he struck fear into multi-millionaire ballplayers and fired managers like they were clerks at CVS. I thought about the way he was equal parts loathed, feared, and respected by fans of the opposition.

I really started to think about how there might be a million more Mark Cubans in my lifetime, but there will never be anyone quite like George.

Now if you’re looking for me to give perspective on the old-school, tyrannical, terrifying, trust no one, fire everyone Steinbrenner of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, you’ll have to go somewhere else. By the time I got to know him as a fan, he was coming off his second suspension from baseball and was a more mellowed, subdued guy…at least in some regards.

But make no mistake, he was still “The Boss.” Even in his advanced age, there was never a doubt who the alpha dog with the Yankees—or in baseball for that matter—was. It was always Big George.

As a Red Sox fan growing up in Steinbrenner’s world, he was more terrifying than any player, coach, team, or organization of my youth. He was an almost mythical figure, rarely seen, but always heard from, and, much like the Godfather, someone who could always get things done. Steinbrenner wasn’t just an owner, but was the scariest kind: one with lots of money who wasn’t afraid to spend it.

During his heyday (and basically every day), Steinbrenner was like a 16-year-old girl with her father’s credit card at the mall. If he saw something he wanted, he went and got it. No trade was impossible for the Yankees, no free agent splurge too outlandish. If his team was struggling during the season, you always knew he’d put pressure on someone to do something to make the squad better.

There was nothing he wasn’t capable of.

Because of that “fear no one, crush everyone” attitude, Steinbrenner was at the controls of the most dominant sports organization of my youth. Not only did fans of other teams know their teams weren’t beating the Yankees, but I also always got the sense that opposing players knew that too.

I remember watching the 1998 World Series when the Yankees played the Padres. After eight innings of Game 1, you could see in the Padres’ eyes that they knew they were toast, and sure enough, they were swept three games later.

Nobody beat the Yankees in the late 1990’s, and like I said, it was more because of Steinbrenner than because of any one player.

It was that burning, win-at-all-costs passion that made The Boss the best owner of my lifetime.

(Follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres)

Just a few days ago, I wrote about Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert and his comments regarding LeBron James leaving his team. With the death of Steinbrenner yesterday, it’s all kind of worth repeating.

While I thought Gilbert’s comments about LeBron were crass and a bit over the top, they also gave me a newfound respect for the guy. At the end of the day, Gilbert stood up to a superstar and stood behind his fans and remaining players. He made his point clear: LeBron James wasn’t bigger than his organization. He promised that he’d continue to do whatever it took to put a championship-caliber team on the court.

Good for him.

Steinbrenner was like that…times 45,000.

Again, as a Red Sox fan growing up in the late 1990’s, watching the Yankees pile up championships was terrifying, frustrating, and angering, and it was probably just the same for every Braves, Mets, and White Sox fan too. We didn’t just despise Steinbrenner.

We hated him.

At the same time, how could you not respect him?

(Because of length, this is just PART of Aaron’s article on George Steinbrenner. To read the remainder, please click here or visit Aaron at www.aarontorres-sports.com .

Also, for his take on all things sports, be sure to follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres and download his App for your iPhone or Android)

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MLB All-Star Game: Four Ways the National League Can Repeat Next Year

After a long 14-year drought, the National League finally beat the American League in the All-Star Game, 3-1. The hero of the game for the NL was Brian McCann, who hit a bases-clearing double in the 7th inning.

Now that the NL can finally relax knowing they can actually win this game, it is now time to look at next year to see what they can improve upon, and see what they need to do to win again.

Begin Slideshow

MLB All-Star Game 2010: Cincinnati Reds’ Scott Rolen Helps NL Hold off AL

The Cincinnati Reds brought their style of play to Anaheim, and the results paid off as the National League defeated the American League 3-1 in the 81st annual All-Star Game.

A pitcher’s duel for most of the night, Scott Rolen started a seventh-inning rally with a single off Phil Hughes. He then went first to third on a Matt Holliday single, hustling the entire way and sliding to safety.

All-Star teammate Brandon Phillips was miked up for the game and could be heard chanting:

“Yeah yeah. That’s what we do in Cincinnati. We go first to third.”

Ah yes, they do. They currently lead the majors in that category. The play didn’t win the game for the NL, but it altered the way Matt Thornton pitched to Marlon Byrd—who eventually earned a walk.

It also set a tone for the rest of the NL squad. The game does matter and Rolen is going all-out to win it.

One batter later with the bases loaded, Atlanta’s Brian McCann delivered big with a bases-clearing double. It marked the first time in All-Star Game history that a player knocked in three with the bases loaded (hard to believe isn’t it?). McCann was named MVP of the game.

Matt Capps of the Washington Nationals earned the win to become the first pitcher from a team based in Washington to win an All-Star Game since Dutch Leonard (1943 Senators).

While Phillips didn’t collect a hit, he made a dandy of a play in the field, tagging out Texas’ Elvis Andrus, who was trying to swipe second and slid past the bag.

Joey Votto was also hitless after earning over 14 million votes to be the last player selected to the team. But it was a great experience for the always level-headed Votto:

“I’m starting to learn you have to take a moment to say, ‘I’ve done pretty good. I’m an All-Star.’ I’ve given myself the next few days to pat myself on the back. I’ve never done that before, but I’m learning to. Not in an arrogant way. In the past, I’ve never said, ‘You know, that was pretty good.'”

From the seventh inning on, the NL infield was colored Red as 1B Votto, 2B Phillips, and 3B Rolen all finished the victory.

Unfortunately, the ageless Arthur Rhodes didn’t make an appearance. While I’m sure he needed the well-deserved rest, it would have been nice to see the 40-year-old at least pitch to one batter. 

All in all, it was a great experience for the Reds’ All-Stars. Phillips was all grins the entire game and looked to have really soaked up the entire experience.

Votto was able to realize he is an elite player and Rolen showed the world how the Cincinnati Reds are playing baseball in 2010.

The American League lost the All-Star Game for the first time since 1996, and now the National League will own home-field advantage in the World Series.

Nobody is crazy enough to say Game 7 will be at Great American Ballpark, but it sure is convenient to have home-field advantage for the first time in years—when the Reds are in first place for the first time in years.

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The Steak Ends: National League Tops American League in 2010 Mid-Summer Classic

The 2010 All-Star Game began as an early pitcher’s duel at Angels Stadium on Tuesday night. No runs were scored, and seven pitchers performed without allowing a run, in the game’s first four-and-a-half innings.

No one crossed home plate until the bottom of the fifth, when the American League struck first. They scored an unearned run off of pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo’s throwing error. The AL got on the board without getting a hit in the inning.

Until the seventh, the AL All-Stars were shutting out their opponents, and it looked as if they would once again come away with a victory. But Brian McCann changed the NL’s disastrous recent past in All-Star games with one swing of the bat.

McCann came into the batter’s box with the bases loaded and ripped a bases-clearing double to right. Three runs scored on the play, also the final three of the game, which would be enough for the NL pitching, who did not allow an earned run all night, to close the game.

McCann was named the game’s MVP. Matt Capps, who struck out the only batter he faced to end the sixth inning, was the winning pitcher. Though he did not allow the game-winning double, which was allowed by Matt Thornton, Phil Hughes was tagged with the loss.

He allowed the first two runners that would score to reach base, while only recording one out.

The National League had not won an All-Star game since 1996, and the only instance in which they had not lost since then came in 2002, when the game ended in a tie.

Since 2003, the winner of the All-Star game has been awarded home-field advantage in the World Series. October 2010 will mark the first time since then that a National League team will host the Series.

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12-Year-Old Outfielder Cut After Horrid Play In 2010 Home Run Derby (Satire)

There have been many poor performances in sports history, but never has a player had a night this horrific. And it just so happened that 12-year old Keri Sterling’s nightmare of a game happened in front of a packed house at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California and a nationwide audience on ESPN.  

Due to her father’s contacts in the business world and his willingness to shell out a few hundred bucks, Sterling got the nod from Home Run Derby Manager Gus McFarland to start in Short Left Center Field.

It was a decision that McFarland would soon regret.

The Diamondbacks’ Chris Young started off the night against the Home Run Derby fielders, and it wasn’t long before he hit a lazy fly ball Sterling’s way.  Clearly nervous in her first Derby start, the young outfielder misjudged the fly ball by at least twelve feet, falling backward and bumping into another fielder in the process.

That missed fly ball began what was a comedy of errors as the over matched Sterling attempted to chase down fly balls from sluggers Corey Hart, Hanley Ramirez, Chris Young, Matt Holiday, David Ortiz, Vernon Wells, Nick Swisher, and Miguel Cabrera.

Her poor fielding display included running long distances with her left arm straight out and her right arm covering her face, turning her glove over the wrong way multiple times, and jumping to catch balls that were twenty feet of more over her head.

Even when Sterling was able to retrieve the ball, she was unable to throw it more than three feet towards the infield. By the time eventual Home Run Champion Big Papi made it to the plate for the last time, Keri Sterling had committed a record 37 fielding errors, and it would have been 39 had two of those errors not been incorrectly pinned on 8-year old Jake Lowery, the Derby’s fourth Mid Left Center Fielder. 

“After a performance like that, we really have no choice but to make a move,” said Coach McFarland, “We just can’t afford to have a kid like her out there with such a glaring lack of any athletic ability whatsoever. We only have enough room for about 85 outfielders on this roster. I’m afraid that all the coaching and practice in the world wouldn’t help, clearly this young lady was just a loser in the genetic lottery.  I’ve met with her and told her that sports are just not in her future, and that maybe she should take up piano or painting or Harry Potter books or whatever it is that those un-athletic, nerdy kids participate in.”

“I don’t know what to say,” said Sterling’s distraught father, an account executive for a local State Farm office “I’m very displeased with this performance.  We practiced for weeks in the backyard, and eventually I was able to toss up the ball and hit a few fly balls that almost made it out to where she was standing.”

TSC attempted to speak to Sterling herself following her record setting night, but she left the stadium crying like a little girl.


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2010 MLB All-Star Game Live Blog: Updates, Commentary From Midsummer Classic

It’s a sad day for baseball and the Yankees especially as long time owner George Steinbrenner passed away this morning. The historic career of Steinbrenner has been covered throughout the day and he will be honored prior to the first pitch at the All-Star game. The Yankee’s players will be wearing a black armband to represent Steinbrenner tonight. 

This will be the place to get your All-Star fix and converse about the game as it happens. I’ll be giving updates after every significant moment happens in the game and you can feel free to comment on the game below.

The American League has won the past 12 meetings and home field in the World Series is up for grabs. If your team has playoff aspirations and has a chance for the World Series, this game could change the outcome of those October contests. Be sure to take it all in as the best players in the game are honored in front of us all.


Matt Capps gets the win, Matt Thornton gets the loss, and Jonathan Broxton gets the save. It’s been fun, hope everyone enjoyed the blog. For more from me, you can follow me on twitter @Ben_Duronio.

Brian McCann is elected All-Star MVP! As a Braves blogger, this is especially awesome to see. McCann is going to get some of the national recognition that he has deserved for the past few seasons. 

National League 3 – American League 1. 

Ian Kinsler flies out to the right centerfield gap and the National League takes it for the first time in 13 years by the score of 3-1! 

John Buck lofts a single in front of right fielder Marlon Byrd, but Byrd picks the ball up and throws it to first while spinning and falling to get Ortiz out at first, a truly fantastic play.

Broxton sits Beltre down with a 99 mph fastball for the first out.

David Ortiz leads the inning off with a single, tying run now stepping to the plate in the form of Adrian Beltre.

Jonathan Broxton is in to try and save out the game in his team’s home town, albeit in the other stadium.

Bottom of the 9th, 3-1 NL:

Another strikeout for Valverde who celebrates in an odd and irritating way. On to the bottom of the ninth.

Valverde strikes out Young as well with another strikeout via his nasty splitter.

Jose Valverde is on to face Michael Bourn. Valverde runs through Bourn and strikes him out with a split-finger fastball.

Top of the 9th, 3-1 NL:

MLB home run leader Jose Bautista pops up to end the inning. The AL will have one more shot to come back in the ninth.

Scott Rolen uses his soft hands to take in a Paul Konerko grounder and throws him out at first for out number two.

Brian Wilson is on for the NL, facing the young shortstop Elvis Andrus. Wilson gets ahead 0-2 and throws a waste pitch high, then gets Andrus to ground out to Phillips for the inning’s first out.

Bottom of the 8th, 3-1 NL:

Rolen flys out to left to end the inning. Quick work for Soriano who has had a great season as closer of the Rays.

Rafael Soriano enters and gets Adrian Gonzalez to fly out to left and Joey Votto to fly out to center. Scott Rolen now up.

Top of the 8th, 3-1 NL:

Wainwright throws some slick breaking balls and strikes Hunter out to strand both runners, still 3-1 for the NL entering the top of the eighth.

Wainwright walks Kinsler which brings up Vernon Wells, the winning run. Wells hits a grounder to Furcal but they can only get the force at second. First-and-third with one out for Torii Hunter.

John Buck smokes one into left field as Matt Holliday drops a catchable ball. It was a tough play and it was hit deep to left, but he should have come down with it.

Wainwright quickly takes care of Swisher with one of his devastating curveballs. One out in the seventh.

Former closer Adam Wainwright is on to face the AL, with Nick Swisher getting his first cuts of the day. 

Bottom of the 7th, 3-1 NL:

Andrew Bailey replaces Thornton, Rafael Furcal now up with McCann on second base. Furcal walks as Brandon Phillips has a chance to extend the NL lead. Bailey strikes out Phillips on a nasty breaking ball to end the inning.

Brian McCann hits a bases clearing double to make it 3-1 for the NL.

Byrd wins the battle with a walk, but the NL still needs another base runner to tie the game up. Lefty Brian McCann now on to face Thornton, who has a .172 avg against lefties.

Thornton gets Young to pop-up to fellow White Sox Paul Konerko, now first-and-third with one out. It’s a Chicago vs. Chicago matchup with Thornton facing Cub’s representative Marlon Byrd.

Girardi removes Hughes for Matt Thornton and Charlie Manuel counters by hitting Chris Young for Andre Ethier.

Matt Holliday getting his first at-bat of the game and he too singles up the middle as Rolen speeds to third base, making it first-and-third with one out.

Scott Rolen up now and he singles to center off of Hughes.

Phil Hughes on to pitch to Joey Votto, who pinch-hits for Howard, and grounds out to the second basemen, Ian Kinsler.

Top of the 7th, 1-0 AL:

Capps strikes out Ortiz and we move into the seventh.

Hamilton singles to right field and “Big Papi” follows. Charlie Manuel removed Halladay for Matt Capps, and Joe Girardi pinch-runs Jose Bautista for Josh Hamilton.

Paul Konerko is up and he strikes out with Elvis Andrus stealing. McCann double clutched and threw it late, but Andrus overslid the bag and he was tagged out by Phillips.

Halladay enters and Derek Jeter drops in a single in front of the diving Marlon Byrd. Jeter is lifted for pinch-runner Elvis Andrus. Rafael Furcal is now at shortstop and Brandon Phillips is at 2nd.

Bottom of the 6th, 1-0 AL:

Adrian Gonzalez is getting his first at-bat and he rolls over to Ian Kinsler for a 4-3 putout.

Martin Prado pops up to Derek Jeter after a long at bat. 

Lester is facing Ramirez and gets him to hit a grounder right back at him, 1-3 putout. 

Ian Kinsler, John Buck, Vernon Wells, and Jon Lester all enter the game. 

Top of the 6th, 1-0 AL:

Bell gets Hunter to fly out to Ethier after Carl Crawford stole second base. On to the next half, let’s see if the NL can tie it back up.

Crawford hits a one hopper to Hanley Ramirez and he throws to third to get Mauer who was trying to advance. It was a poor baserunning decision by Mauer. Kuo exits with Heath Bell coming in to face Torii Hunter with a man on first and two outs.

Cano breaks the tie with a sacrifice fly driving in Evan Longoria, 1-0 AL.

Mauer taps a grounder to Kuo who airmails it into right field making it men on second and third with nobody out.

Kuo walks Longoria after getting him to an 0-2 count. Now up is Mauer and Kuo has allowed no hits to left-handers this season.

Hong-Chi Kuo enters to face Evan Longoria as Marlon Byrd and Matt Holliday are now in the outfield as well, Byrd in center with Ethier moving to right.

Bottom of the 5th:

With a full count to McCann, he launches one to the warning track and Verlander manages to get out of it with the game still scoreless.

Corey Hart swings at no good pitches and strikes out, stranding Wright at third for the time being. It’s up to Brian Mccann, who is pinch-hitting for Molina, to get the run in.

Ethier lines it to right field so hard that Wright is forced to stay at third. Hamilton made a strong through a bit up the line, but it was probably the right move to keep Wright at third with one out.

On a full count to Braun, Verlander strikes him out to bring up Andre Ethier, who is for some reason still playing in centerfield.

Wright steals second as Mauer’s throw sails into centerfield. Wright didn’t realize it though and is still at second base.

Justin Verlander enters and immediately gives up a single to David Wright. Ryan Braun up next, trying to do it with the bat as well as the glove.

Top of the 5th:

Guerrero hits a soft liner to Gonzalez and Johnson exits with two very impressive innings.

Hamilton slaps a liner to left field and Ryan Braun makes a phenomenal catch to rob him of a single. His wrist rolled over and it looked like it could have been painful, but Braun’s a tough boy — great catch.

Johnson still on the mound, faces Miguel Cabrera who grounds out to David Wright. Pitching has ruled thus far.

Adrian Gonzalez moves to first, replacing Pujols.

Bottom of the 4th:

Ryan Howard rolls over to second base and Lee is sitting down almost as fast as he got up.

Cliff makes Pujols look silly, striking him out on three pitches. It’s hard to make Albert look that bad.

Lee quickly forces a Martin Prado ground out and here comes Pujols. Also, Torii Hunter has entered the game in centerfield, replacing Ichiro. Hamilton moved over to right field.

The new Texas Ranger, Cliff Lee, is on to pitch for the AL.

Top of the 4th:

Jeter was late on a fastball and almost poked it by the first base bag but it was just foul. Jeter gets brushed back once again before Johnson freezes him on a 3-2 breaking ball.

Johnson looks very impressive as he strikes out Ichiro on a fastball outside of the zone.

Huge right-hander Josh Johnson of the Florida Marlins is up to pitch now for the NL. Johnson gets Carl Crawford to line out to David Wright.

Bottom of the 3rd:

Hanley Ramirez steps up for the second time and quickly grounds into a 6-4 force out to Derek Jeter.

The lightest hitting starter on either lineup, Yadier Molina, hits a single up the middle for the NL’s second hit.

Big Corey Hart steps up to the plate. Hart hit 13 homers in round one of the Home Run Derby last night. Pettitte gets ahead of him 0-2 and throws a fastball just outside. Hart chases a low-and-away pitch as Pettitte strikes out his second batter in a row.

Ethier strikes out on three pitches. The veteran Pettitte made quick work out of the left-hander.

Top of the 3rd:

Jimenez gets out of it as Robinson Cano hits a weak grounder to fellow second basemen Martin Prado and is thrown out at first. On to the next inning where New York Yankee Andy Pettitte will enter the game.

Mauer quickly lines out to centerfield. Andre Ethier is out there when Corey Hart probably should be as at least Hart has played the position in the Majors before.

Evan Longoria smacks a double to left field and Jimenez is in trouble once again. Last year’s MVP Joe Mauer is up to try and break the scoreless tie.

Vlad Guerrero steps up to a nice ovation once again. The free swinging Guerrero chases a fastball in the dirt as Jimenez records a strikeout. 

Bottom of the 2nd:

Ryan Braun just misses a double as the ball was foul by a few inches. Braun then grounds into a 5-4-3 double play as he breaks his bat and makes it an easy play for third basemen Evan Longoria.

Third basemen David Wright slaps a liner to second that eats up Robinson Cano once again. Cano couldn’t rebound as he did with Prado and Wright has the first hit of the day for the NL.

Ryan Howard opens up the second and whiffs against Price. No surprise really, Howard has struggled mightily against left-handers throughout his career.

Top of the 2nd:

Jimenez buckles down and gets ahead of Hamilton 0-2 before forcing Josh to ground into a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning. On to the top of the second.

Potential triple crown winner, Miguel Cabrera, steps up and bloops a single as Derek Jeter moves to third. First and third for the AL with Josh Hamilton coming up to the plate. Jimenez will have to wiggle out of this jam if he wants to match Price’s first inning goose-egg.

Jimenez brushes Jeter back on 2-0 and almost takes his head off, then walks him on six pitches. Jeter is the first batter on base today.

Ubaldo Jimenez steps up to the mound and quickly gets Ichiro to pop-up to Ramirez in shallow left field. The late Bob Sheppard announces Derek Jeter, awesome to hear his voice at this game.

Bottom of the 1st:

Albert Pujols was late on a fastball as well and roped one unto right-center, but the speedy Ichiro was able to track it down and take extra bases away from “The Machine.” Price looked good in the first, now it’s time to see the young Ubaldo Jimenez take the mound.

Prado slaps a liner to second base and ate up Robinson Cano, but it was hit hard enough to give Cano time to throw him out. Price’s fastball has had both hitters swinging through the zone later than they would like.

Price gets Ramirez to ground out as he was late on a high-90’s fastball. Price is obviously amped to be starting this game. Martin Prado up to bat now, the NL leader in batting average.

David Price pitches to Hanley Ramirez and officially becomes the first ever No. 1 overall draft pick to start an All-Star game as a pitcher. 

Top of the 1st:

Rod Carew throws a strike for the first pitch, we’re ready to get the game going! 

Coming up is a moment of silence for “The Boss.”

Very emotional moment as baseball honors the “All-Stars Among Us.”

The ovation for Vlad was incredible. They obviously love their former DH and miss him dearly. It’s great to see fans respect him despite moving to another team in their division.

Torii Hunter and Jered Weaver got a ton of applause in their home stadium while the Yankees got booed to death. There were some big cheers for certain players outside of Los Angeles such as Jason Heyward and Heath Bell, but Bell’s was probably due to plenty of San Diego residents hiking up to L.A.

The players are being announced, starting with the NL coaches and players. The NL team is very young, as Jayson Stark points out, all eight elected NL starting position players are under 30.

As the game goes on, I will update the lineup. Many players will be subbed in at different times and at different positions, so the lineups below will be altered throughout the night.


American League:

1. Torii Hunter, CF, SEA

2. Derek Jeter, SS, NYY

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET

4. Josh Hamilton, RF, TEX

5. David Ortiz, DH, BOS

6. Adrian Beltre, 3B, BOS

7. John Buck, C, TOR

8. Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX

9. Vernon Wells, LF, TOR

SP. Rafael Soriano, RHP, TB

National League:

1. Rafael Furcal, SS, FLA

2. Brandon Phillips, 2B, ATL

3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, SD

4. Joey Votto, DH, CIN

5. Scott Rolen, 3B, CIN

6. Matt Holliday, LF, MIL

7. Andre Ethier, RF, LAD

8. Marlon Byrd, CF, MIL

9. Yadier Molina, C, STL

SP. Brian Wilson, RHP, SF

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The Hypocrisy of the MLB All-Star Game

Eight years ago, the All-Star Game ended in a tie when the teams ran out of players to put into the extra-inning contest.  Nobody likes a tie, and the fans at that game in Milwaukee and those watching nationwide on TV, like myself, were no exceptions.

In response to the deadlocked Midsummer Classic, Commissioner Bud Selig deemed change necessary.  As of six seasons ago, the league that wins the All-Star Game also wins home field advantage for the World Series. 

While it may seem logical on the surface, Selig’s overreaction to the tie eight years ago has him talking out of both sides of his mouth these days.  The hypocrisy of an All-Star Game “that counts” has divided fans on exactly how the teams should be chosen and the game played. 

The two main changes fans want are to remove the fan selection portion of the balloting and also get rid of the requirement for there being at least one player from every team to be chosen for the game.  This way, fans can’t just vote for their favorite hometown star when there is a more deserving (and better) option available, and we would never need another Pittsburgh Pirate on the National League team.

These seem like very logical choices.

But they’re wrong.

The hypocrisy surrounding the All-Star Game does need to end, as you can’t put weight on the results of the game when fan voting and the one-player-per-team rule mean you can’t guarantee that the best teams will be out there for each league. But by taking away these two aspects of the process, it makes the game even less fun than Selig has already made it with his changes.

You see, I can’t even remember what happened in the last six All-Star Games.  I probably won’t remember what happens in this year’s event.  When Bud stopped the game from being an exhibition, he removed most of the entertainment in the process.

As much as the commissioner wants the game to matter in order to drive up TV ratings and add importance, it’s still nothing more than an exhibition.  And when it was treated that way, the games were more memorable.

My three favorite All-Star Game memories:

In 1997, Larry Walker stepping in to face dominant lefty Randy Johnson…from the wrong side of the plate.

In 2001, Alex Rodriguez switching positions so that Cal Ripken, Jr., the man who may have revolutionized the shortstop position, could start there instead in his final All-Star appearance.

In 2002, Torii Hunter robbing Barry Bonds of a surefire home run, and Bonds proceeding to take off for the outfield to jokingly tackle the center fielder.

Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that the last fond memory I have of an All-Star Game came during that 2002 contest.  It was the resulting tie of that game that led to the drab and dull game that takes place now. 

Under the current structure, I’m not sure any of my favorite All-Star memories would have ever occurred.  The aforementioned three all happened because the players were having fun with the game.

Walker never would have taken on the lefty killer from the right side because he was left-handed, and you can’t give up outs in an important game.  As much as A-Rod would have loved to honor Ripken, he wouldn’t have made the switch, as it probably wasn’t best for the team.  And after being robbed of a dinger, Bonds wouldn’t have been joking around with Hunter.  He would have wanted to take his head off for taking away what could have ultimately been a deciding home run.

The game was more fun for the fans when it was more fun for the players.  Sure, they may have played for some small amount of pride, but the players were allowed to go out and just enjoy themselves, along with the spectacle of the moment.  But no more. Now it matters.

My other issue with the call to change is the assertion that the “one player from every team” rule should be abandoned.  Yes, this has its merits.  Should anyone from the Pirates, or the Orioles, or the Indians really be present at a display of the best talent in baseball this year?

In my opinion, yes. 

The large market teams and their very large followings are going to be well-represented on the team no matter what.  Between fan voting, managers favoring their own players, and the fact that those teams can buy the best talent in free agency, there will always be a plethora of Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Mets available for the team.

But as a fan of a small market team, I know how special that one token selection each team receives can be.  During their years of total irrelevance, the Rockies’ one All-Star a season let me know that even though they weren’t on the same level as the top-tier teams, they were still playing the same game, at the same level, and that their achievements, as minuscule as they may have been, could still be recognized by those following the game.  It let me know that no matter how bad the record was, my team still mattered.

The All-Star Game, in its purest form, isn’t about the players, or the marketing, or even the final score; it’s about the fans.  It’s our chance to see the best in the game on the field at once.  For those without expansive cable packages or access to the Internet, it could be their only chance to see many of these players in a given season.

Giving home field advantage in the World Series to the winner of the All-Star Game doesn’t add enough significance to the game to offset the entertainment that it has robbed from it.  The game should celebrate all that is great about the game of baseball, and allow the fans and players to revisit the simpler times when they played the game just for the fun of it.

To take away the fan’s input on the game would further distance the fans from a game with which they are already growing disenchanted. But to combine that with the continued assertion on making the game count is hypocritical and counter-intuitive.

There has to be a better way to decided who gets home field advantage for the World Series, one that doesn’t ruin the best All-Star contest in American professional sports. If that happens, everyone, from the fan who voted online to the kid unfortunate enough to have been conceived in the Steel City, can enjoy the All-Star Game again.

Don’t take the game away from the fans, Bud.  Give it back to them, and let them make it fun again.

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2010 MLB Home Run Derby: Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chris Young Strikes Out

Well that was short.

By my count, first time All-Star outfielder Chris Young had five singles and one double in Anaheim Monday.  

Unfortunately for the Diamondback, it was not the well-placed-line-drive-derby. 

Eliminated in the first round in last place, Young hit just one ball out of the park while frequently voicing his displeasure with himself aloud.

“In the long run, I’d much rather have my line-drive swing than my home run swing,” Young told azcentral.com.

“Nobody has to worry about my getting turned around. It was line drives the entire time.”

That’s all fine and dandy, but he might want to rethink his stance before entering another home run derby. 

In the end, the young resurgent player seemed to enjoy his short-lived experience at the event and garnered high praise from the ESPN announcers. 

It would have been nice to see a Diamondback go further however, since the team rarely gets any national audience.

The only Arizona player to win the derby was Luis Gonzalez in 2001. 

Hopefully next season, when Chase Field plays host to the Mid-Summer Classic, a real home run hitter will be chosen from the team. 

Cough, Mark Reynolds, cough.

He might swing and miss ten times, but at least he will put on a show when he connects.

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