Monday, July 2, 2012

All Star Game 2012 - Stars Set to Shine (And Whine)

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-Digger's Daily-

The date is set. Major League Baseball's 2012 All Star Game - July 10, 2012 - live from Kaufman Stadium (Kansas City, MO).

Baseball's Mid-Summer Classic is the best of professional All Star Game's. Baseball players come out ready to play. ASG has transformed over the years (past history and game results). Full rosters give managers headaches trying to get all players into the game. NL squads won the past two games after losing 12 of 13 (7-7 tie in 2002).

My personal favorites - 1981 return from strike game played in August, MVP Gary Carter hit 2 homers as NL topped AL 5-4. The game featured 70/80's icons - (NL) Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Carter, Andre Dawson, Davey Lopes, Dave Parker, Steve Garvey, Fernando Valenzuela, Tom Seaver, Vida Blue, Nolan Ryan, Bruce Sutter and more... AL showcased Rod Carew, George Brett, Reggie Jackson, Ken Singleton, Carlton Fisk, Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn, Eddie Murray, Jack Morris, Rollie Fingers...

Fantastic memories from days of old create golden moments frozen in All Star history. Cal Ripken Jr.'s final game when Alex Rodriguez honored/forced Cal to play SS one final time. Ripken later homered in his final All Star AB.
Fred Lynn's grand slam in 2001.
Reggie Jackson's roof clearing home run in Detroit (1971).
Dave Parker gunning down 2 runners with rocket throws from RF (1979).
Who will be the top performer this year? I'd bet ASG MVP comes from AL's starting lineup. They're all sluggers. It's a huge advantage in AL's favor on paper. (American League All Stars)
C Napoli, 1B Fielder, 2B Cano, 3B Beltre, SS Jeter, OF Hamilton-Granderson-Bautista, DH Ortiz. Yeowza. NL hurlers aren't slouches but this lineup promises to produce unless Mets knuckler & projected starter Dickey's floaters dance around free swinging bats.

Snubbed players has Reds Manager (and former All Star) Dusty Baker pointing fingers at NL Manager (now retired) and former divisional rival Tony LaRussa. LaRussa left off Brewers starter Grienke (9-2) and Reds 2B Phillips. Both worthy of selection .. as are a select few others. Baker believes LaRussa is still holding a grudge against Cincinnati stemming from a brawl a few years ago. Phillips may still get his shot if another players defers or is out due to injury. Dusty might be right. Baker and LaRussa were not friends on the field. Cincy vs St. Louis is a big rivalry. It would be a shame if LaRussa denies a player based on a past grudge. Nobody can know for certain but it makes great reading and intensifies an already tense rivalry.

Picking AS teams is a tough task. Feelings will be hurt. Some players will get snubbed. It sucks for the one's left off but rarely is a non-deserving player in the game (except for starters selected by fans). Rosters have been expanded over the years and will be in years to come. Someone will always feel left out. I would really like to see MLB add Chipper Jones to the NL roster. It's Chipper's final season, he's playing very well (when healthy), and future Hall of Fame players should always be honored during farewell seasons when putting up solid numbers. LaRussa seems inclined to add Jones should someone beg off. I'm just hoping the few left behind don't go public whining away. It serves an injustice to those selected and most guys end up with egg on their faces. Just take it like a man and move on.

Fan voting selects All Star starting hitters/fielders. When I was a young kid I had a blast poking out chads on AS ballots. Shea wasn't drawing many fans in the late 70's so it was easy to walk off with two bundles of ballots and I was fortunate to see many games. Nowadays, fans can stuff ballots online using multiple e-mail addresses. Josh Hamilton shattered fan balloting records this season recording over 11,000,000 votes!

Kaufman Stadium is a great venue to host the game. It's a great stadium and Kansas City needs a boost. Royals reams haven't lived up to expectations. The good news is they're only 6 games out of first place. They're loaded with talent. Maybe the AS break is just what they need. One big cog slogging along is 1B Eric Hosmer. The time is ripe for KC to shock the baseball world by trading for a top notch starting pitcher for the stretch drive. Relivers are solid but over worked. Kansas City hosting the All Star Game could very well energize their fan base for the second half. KC is well within striking distance. If KC fans return to regular season action with ASG enthusiam, then an electric Kaufman will do wonders for 2nd half action.

Guess what? KC fans failed in ballot box stuffing for hometown players. DH/1B Billy Butler is the lone KC representative. It would be nice if AL Manager Washington gets Butler into the game early and for an extended period. Wouldn't it be great for KC's only rep to slug his way to MVP honors!??

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