Now that it really is Summer, it is time for every baseball fan’s favorite game within the game, that is: picking the all stars for each league. Let’s have a bit of a rant before we start, though, to keep pace with call-in talk shows around the country.
A few years back, the geniuses in charge (in other words, the bosses at Fox television) decided to contribute to the ruination of all things fun by declaring that, henceforth, the team that wins the All Star Game wins, not only the game, but also home field advantage for its league in the same year’s World Series. There is no other apt way to put this: it’s a crock of shit.
This decision is also further evidence of the decline of the empire. Horror of horrors, there had to be a tie in an exhibition game because both the American and National League teams ran out of pitchers to use. A tie, or draw, at one time was an honorable thing in football and hockey but no, now here in the Imperial United States of America, we have to have winners and losers, also once respectable in championship endeavors, will soon be made to cross interstate highways blindfolded to pay for their sins. At its inception, this game was an exhibition for fans to see the players voted best in each league face each other in the middle of the season, providing a treat for fans and a break for the players from the arduous and perhaps cutthroat regular season. The only ones getting a break now are those not selected to the teams. Home field advantage for the World Series used to alternate between the leagues and that was fair. The Seligism we endure now is simply not fair and proves only how big money is capable of taking the fun out of just about everything.
Nevertheless, it is the game we love and our hope is that the game survives big business while the planet somehow does the same.
Okay, National League first. My choice for first base is Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona. He plays in a hitters’ yard but .358, 50 runs, 19 homers, and 57 RBI are still very impressive. Adrian Gonzalez got off to a blazing start but has cooled somewhat. They are both excellent fielders so the Diamondback gets the nod.
Dee Gordon of Miami is my second sacker over D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies. At third, Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier beats out another Rockies star, Nolan Arenado. Shortstop has a lot of capable choices but San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford beats Atlanta’s Andrelton Simmons because he is more productive offensively.
Bryce Harper has earned the left field spot easily and one could say the same for Giancarlo Stanton in right field . Denard Span edges out Andrew McCutchen for center field since McCutchen started slowly but that was a tough call. At catcher, I go with Yadier Molina even in a slightly off season just because of his deadly arm and his handling of the first place Cardinals’ pitching staff.
My starting pitcher selection is Gerrit Cole of the Pirates. Max Scherzer has has the incredible run recently but the fiery young Cole has a Bob Gibson type demeanor that deserves this showcase.
For the American League, it’s not very difficult to choose Miguel Cabrera at first base, although Albert Pujols is making big noise of late. Second base is a tough one because Dustin Pedroia is consistently great, Jose Altuve very worthy, and Jason Kipnis is very good, but I’m going with Brian Dozier of the Twins. He gets hard competition from Manny Machado, a superior fielder, but Josh Donaldson has to be the third baseman. The Blue Jays have become legitimate with him in the lineup as well as Russell Martin. Jose Inglesias of Detroit is the best shortstop in the A.L. with the possible exception of Alcides Escobar of the Royals so his .325 batting average puts him on top even if it’s a “soft” .325.
The Tigers get a third starter from me in Yoenis Cespedes in left field. He keeps getting better. Surprise surprise! I’m picking Mike Trout of the La Habra Angels in center field. Nelson Cruz is my right fielder even if he’s not being Babe Ruth this month. My American League starting pitcher would be Sonny Gray of Oakland. Oh, yeah–designated hitter. This was an easy choice too—Donald Trump.