My All-star class of 2014

The baseball season has just reached the half way stage – which means it is nearly time for the All-Star Game which this year takes place at Target Field home of the Minnesota Twins on July 15th. The great thing about the All-Star Game is how Major League Baseball (MLB) turn it into a festival by also having the Futures Game (which showcases the sport’s emerging talent) the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game and (my personal favourite) the Home Run Derby. The unique thing about baseball’s All-Star game compared to other American sports is that the teams are playing for a huge prize. The winning League – American or National – gets home field advantage for the World Series (which means games 1 and 2 plus 6 and 7 are played on their ground). How huge is this prize? Well as I know from bitter experience in 2011 – since this rule was introduced in 2003 only three teams that did not have home field advantage – the 2003 Marlins the 2006 Cardinals and the 2008 Phillies – have won the World Series. It is highly likely that a team from the winning League on July 15th will go on and win the World Series.
What I really like about US sport is its democracy. The fans pick the starting players for the All-Star Game (managers and players pick the rest of the rosters). And since the invention of the internet that means even fans from outside of the US can help pick the team. And so I have. These are the players I voted for starting with the team that will be first into bat on July 15th the visiting National League team.
First Base – Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona) – a good player in a poor team (for those that don’t know all 30 MLB teams must have a player in the All-Star Game – even if like the 1962 Mets or the 2003 Tigers they are rubbish) but Goldschmidt deserves his place over Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers.
Second Base – Brandon Phillips (Cincinnati) “Dat Dude BP” is a personal favourite of mine so I start him ahead of the Phillies’ Chase Utley.
Third Base – Pablo Sandoval (San Fransisco) – another personal favourite “Kung Fu Panda” pips the Mets David Wright for a starting slot.
Shortstop – Troy Tulowitzski (Colorado) – No contest. The best shortstop in the National League although the Braves’ Andrelton Simmons deserves a place on the roster.
Catcher – Yadier Molina (St Louis) – another no contest. The Brewer’s Jonathan Lucroy should be picked by the players coaches and managers though.
Outfielders – Carlos Gomez (Milwaukee), Yasiel Puig (LA Dodgers) and Giancarlo Stanton (Miami). I voted for Puig last year when a lot of people thought it was too soon for him to be an All-Star but if you’re good enough…and this year has proved that he is. Gomez is the best home run robber in the National League and Stanton is the main reason to turn up at that over priced fish tank in Miami (PLEASE put him in the Home Run Derby). The NL MVP Andrew McCutchen just misses out.
Now for the home team the American League:
First Base – Miguel Cabrera (Detroit) – the best hitter in baseball. Hopefully the White Sox’s rookie sensation Jose Abreu gets picked too but against Cabrera he has no chance.
Second Base – Robinson Cano (Seattle) – even though I hate him for turning up in the AL West and making my team’s division even stronger he still beats the Tiger’s Ian Kinsler for a place.
Third Base – Adrian Beltre (Texas) – I have a rule that one player at least from my team must be in the starting line up and this year it is Beltre. Biased?Yes. But aren’t we all…
Shortstop – Derek Jeter (NY Yankees). Yes its sentimental. But the “captain” deserves to start his final All Star Game. What price him being the MVP like Mariano was last year?
Catcher – Derek Norris (Oakland) – would have been the O’s Matt Wieters but he’s on the DL so Norris IMO is next cab off the rank.
Designated Hitter – Edwin Encarnation (Toronto) – usually a walk over for “Big Papi” David Ortiz but not this year. the toughest pick I had to make. Encarnation starts over Nelson Cruz of the O’s on the basis of a coin toss.
Outfielders – Jose Bautista (Toronto), Yoenis Cespedes (Oakland) and Mike Trout (LA Angels) Trout is the best player in baseball, Cespedes one of the most exciting and “JoeyBats” is a personal favourite.
Finally although fans don’t get to pick pitchers I wrote a list of pitchers who should take part. For the National League Adam Wainwright, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez, Jeff Samardzija (remember there HAS to be a Cub in the game!) Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel. And for the American League Mashahiro Tanaka, Yu Darvish (who in my unbiased opinion must start the game for the AL). Garret Richards, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Koji Uehara, Sean Doolittle and Felix Hernandez. How many of them get picked we must wait and see (the rosters are revealed on the 7th of July).
All that needs to be said now is enjoy the game. And may the best team win…

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