12 July 2005

The 76th annual All-Star Game

Back in May, I posted my votes for this summer's All-Star Game. They were by no means predictions, just my own selections if I were Terry Francona and/or Tony La Russa, managers of the American and National League squads, respectively. (God willing, Mr. Francona and I will never resemble each other). But let's see how I did.

On the American League side, I correctly predicted the selections of first baseman Paul Konerko, second baseman Alfonso Soriano, catcher Ivan Rodriguez, outfielders Vlad Guerrero and Ichiro Suzuki and designated hitter David Ortiz. Of my AL picks, only Ortiz and Guerrerro were selected as starters, the others were chosen by Francona to fill out the bench.

My picks who didn't make the cut were third baseman Hank Blalock, shortstop Derek Jeter and center fielder Bernie Williams. Blalock is having an absolutely torrid season and Jeter's offensive numbers are better than usual. Alex Rodriguez's raw stats might be slightly better than Blalock's, plus he has the name recognition (although his popular election is curious since it seems every other team's fans despise A-Rod) but in a big situation, I'd much rather have Hank than Alex in the batter's box. As for Jeter, he's had too many All-Star moments to mention, and Miguel Tejada and Michael Young were undeniable for the All-Star squad. I was full in my disclosure of Bernie as a sentimental pick.

So out of nine AL picks, six made the team. Not bad.

In the National League, only my picks of first baseman Albert Pujols (who will be the starting DH in the American League park), catcher Paul Lo Duca and outfielder Carlos Beltran panned out.

I admit I'm not as much of an NL maven, though Senior Circuit ball, with no DH and more emphasis on strategy tickles the purist in me, but let's see where I screwed up.

I chose Craig Biggio of the Astros to start at second. Baseball fans chose the crybaby jerk Jeff Kent, with Luis Castilla of Florida as the reserve. David Eckstein of the Cardinals will start at shortstop, backed up by Cesar Izturis of the Dodgers, Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies and Felipe Lopez of the Reds. I chose the Mets' Jose Reyes, who doesn't know how to take a pitch, but still has eight triples in half a season and, with the offensive disappearance of Beltran, is largely responsible for the fact that the Metropolitans are still in contention for the division.

I also chose Vinny Castilla and Brad Wilkerson of the Nationals based on their deceptively hot starts and because I was an Expos fan. I don't like Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs' hot corner man who got the starting nod, though Morgan Ensberg looks like the real deal. Castilla still would have been a better choice for reserve than Scott Rolen, who's only hitting .250 with five homers at the break.

In the outfield I had Beltran, Wilkerson and Juan Pierre. The voters inexplicably agreed with my weakest pick, but Home Run Derby king Bobby Abreu and Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds were amply served. All in all, three of my nine NL picks played in the All-Star Game, which the AL won, 7-5, for their eighth straight victory in the Midsummer Classic.

It wasn't a great game, but here are some highlights:

Major-League asshole Kenny Rogers was booed on his way in and out, and in between, gave up the National League's first two runs. Switch-hitting first baseman Mark Teixiera, who hadn't homered from the right side all year, went deep off lefty Dontrelle Willis. Ichiro was picked off of first base. I don't have the resources to check the last time that happened to anyone in an All-Star Game, but I assume it was a rarity. And my boy Mariano Rivera got a strikeout for a one-out save, simply overpowering Ensberg.


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