Live Blog: Yankees vs. Red Sox (7/25)


10:11 p.m.
So fitting.

J.D. Drew just struck out LOOKING to end the game and give the Bronx Bombers (although they weren’t in this game) a 1-0 victory.

The Red Sox struck out 12 times.

And cried almost as many times.

I, on the other hand, couldn’t be any happier. I don’t have to do this live-blog anymore.

And it only took three hours!

10:09 p.m. Somebody has a temper.

Yikes.

Somebody REALLY has a temper.

Mike Lowell…grow up, please.

Lowell struck out looking in the 7th and wasn’t happy. He just struck out looking in the ninth (it did appear inside) and really really wasn’t happy.

And he just acted like a little baby. I guess Mariano Rivera has that affect on opposing hitters.

10:05 p.m. Youkilis singles to left on a 1-2 pitch. Mariano’s cutter has clearly lost its luster and effectiveness.

10:02 p.m. Mariano’s cut fastball = good. Ortiz is jammed and flies out. One down.

10:00 p.m.
Hideki Okajima gets the Yankees to go in order in the top of the 9th. Mariano needs just three more outs for the save and a two-game deficit in the AL East.

David Ortiz will lead things off for the Sox.

Who thinks that Manny Ramirez in the lineup tonight would have been helpful?

9:53 p.m.
Ellsbury K’s. Two out. Pedroia weakly grounds out. Three out. Mariano Rivera is good.

9:50 p.m.
Mariano is 25-for-25 in save opportunities. So I’m an idiot for that prediction a minute ago.

9:46 p.m. Sometimes the swinging bunt is the deadliest play in baseball.

Coco Crisp hit a slow dribbler down the first-base line, and Farnsworth tried to scoop up the ball and tag Crisp. Bad idea. He’s too tall and goofy to pull off such a complex maneuver.

And that’s it for Kyle. With runners on first and second and one out, Mariano Rivera is coming in.

FEARLESS PREDICTION: The Red Sox score at least once in this inning. I can just feel it.

9:40 p.m. Joba: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K (103 pitches).

So guess what happened just seconds after Joba was lifted in favor of Kyle Farnsworth.

The Red Sox actually got a baserunner!

9:33 p.m. How many pitchers does it take to get three outs in the 8th inning of a scoreless game?

Any team (not Boston or New York) vs. Any team (not Boston or New York)…ONE.

Boston vs. New York…THREE.

9:24 p.m. Beckett pitched a gem, but he’s out of the game now in the 8th and can only lose it.

9:20 p.m. And ANOTHER strikeout for Joba. That’s nine now. This is getting fun. And Joba has a shutout now through seven.

9:16 p.m.
Oh boy.

Now THAT is what I’m talking about!

Joba just threw a heater in the vicinity of Youkilis’ head. Man, those two don’t like each other. I love it.

But this couldn’t have been intentional. It’s a 1-0 game in the 7th, and the count is 2-0. The LAST thing he wants is to put the leadoff man on base in a crucial spot, in a crucial game.

The ball came EXTREMELY close to hitting Youkilis in the head, but instead it hit the handle of the bat. Warnings were issued to both sides.

Youkilis ended up striking out. And as he walked back the dugout he said “that’s ******* horse***”

How can you NOT like Yankees-Red Sox games?

9:12 p.m. I love pitchers’ duels. But this game has been a bit boring and uneventful.

Yanks up 1-0 after 6 1/2 innings.

9:02 p.m.
Joba’s on cruise control out there, but his pitch count is quite high also. He’s gone for six shutout innings, but has thrown 89 pitches to get there.

8:54 p.m.
A-Rod is stranded in scoring position in the sixth. Beckett pitching very well, but not enough as Chamberlain has been even better.

But we’ll see how long he can stay out there — in his nine career starts, he hasn’t pitched seven full innings once.

Beckett won’t last much longer…he’s thrown 94 pitches through six.

8:48 p.m.
A-Rod falls behind 0-2, but works the count full and leads off the 6th with a single.
Beckett gets ahead of Giambi 0-2, as well, but throws a wild pitch, which moves A-Rod to second. But he doesn’t lose the Giambino, striking him out.

8:42 p.m.
That was a big trade.

Yanks still lead, 1-0, after five. Joba and Beckett turning this one into the duel we expected. Both pitchers have thrown 75 pitches, with Joba striking out six and Beckett with five.

8:27 p.m. Forget the game for a second, BREAKING NEWS for Yankees fans.

The Yankees just traded for outfielder Xavier Nady and left-handed reliever Damaso Marte in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates will receive four players, most notably current Yankees reliever Ross Ohlendorf and outfield prospect Jose Tabata. Disregard his poor numbers somewhat, as he is still very-highly thought of.

Interesting move. I gave New York my full endorsement for Barry Bonds, but they chose to go a different way.

Go figure.

Two additional thoughts: Nady, a right fielder, is going to play where for New York? Must be left field.

Also, for PIT fans (if there are any), this undoubtedly means the arrival of top-prospect Andrew McCutchen to the big-club.

UPDATE: the two other prospects are pitcher George Kontos (doing well) and Phil Coke (also, doing well).

8:20 p.m.
Shame on you, Robinson.

The shift was on for Ortiz and he hit a grounder to second to Cano — who was standing in the outfield, a good distance from the infield dirt.

The ball hit the lip of the grass/dirt and took a big hop and Cano mishandled it. And the BELLIGERENTLY DRUNK official scorer ruled it a hit.

Jerry Remy agreed it was a hit, saying it was a tough play because it hit the lip. Fine, but Cano had PLENTY of time to adjust, as he was standing quite far back.

Come on, people. These are major leaguers. That play should be made EVERY-SINGLE-TIME. No excuses. Would that have been a great play if he had made it? Heck NO. So it’s an error. That simple. ‘Embarrassing’ is the only word to describe the quality of official scoring in baseball today.

8:17 p.m. After three complete, the Yankees lead 1-0.

Pitchers’ duel and we STILL won’t get this game over within three hours. Of course not. I’ll be happy if it lasts shorter than 3 hours, 45 minutes.

8:12 p.m.
Apparently Melky is a frequent reader of ‘The “Next” Peter Gammons’, because he just got a single just to spite me for what I wrote about earlier in the game about his hitting “prowess” (or lack there of).

…And now I have something new to say about Melky. He can’t run the bases well, either.

He just got gunned down. But hey, he can field well!

8:09 p.m. Joba goes for a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom half of the third inning. Surprised it still didn’t take 30 minutes.

8:02 p.m.
It typically takes longer than 2 1/2 innings for this to happen, but Don Orsillo is annoying me immensely. I think I would rather list
en to the Spice Girls.

Where’s the MUTE button?

Anyway, Beckett evades further damage in the third.

7:59 p.m.
I stand corrected. A-Rod singled Abreu over to third, and Giambi got the biggest gift of a single I have ever seen, hitting a little dribbler to where a shortstop SHOULD be playing.

Shift = not a good decision in that instance.

Yankees now lead 1-0.

7:56 p.m.
Nothing is happening, and the game is still moving slower than (plug in clever joke here).

I hate Yankees-Red Sox games.

7:46 p.m. Melky Cabrera can’t hit a lick, but he sure can “go get it” in center field. A great diving catch by him is followed up by a beautiful 4-6-3 DP started by Cano to end the inning.

Scoreless after two.

7:44 p.m.
Yes, Fenway Park is awesome. It’s unique. It’s fun. It’s creative. It’s historic.

But sometimes I hate it. Mike Lowell just drilled a line-drive that would have been a home run just about anywhere else, and the stupid Green Monster limited it to a single. That’s just lame.

But I suppose the Monster “takeith” and “giveth” away. I totally spelled that incorrectly, didn’t I?

7:40 p.m.
Robinson Cano continues his torrid hitting with a leadoff single, but no problem for Beckett as he gets the next three guys out in order.

The Yankees’ offense just isn’t as good as it usually is. What could they possibly do to improve it?

Hmm.

I wonder.

7:30 p.m. On the Ortiz punchout, Pedroia looked dead on a steal attempt but made a beautiful slide to avoid Jeter’s tag on a throw that beat him to the bag my a MILE. But Youkilis (who just gets along so well with Joba) ended the inning by whiffing (and it was quite ugly I might add).

On the plus side for Kevin, it was just the first time in six plate appearances that Joba has retired him. See, that’s what happens when you don’t throw the ball at his head and throw it in the strike zone.

Scoreless after one, but both starters had to throw a lot of pitches in the inning (24 for Beckett, 20 for Joba). Both struck out two.

7:28 p.m.
David Ortiz is back!!!!! You may have heard!!!!

His first at-bat back was everything it could have been and (less). He struck out. Clearly he’s not ready. Send him back down to AA.

7:24 p.m.
And what else is new, Dustin Pedroia just got a single. Does he ever make an out?

7:23 p.m.
Jacoby Ellsbury’s struggles continue. He grounds out. He was originally slated to bat ninth today to take some of the pressure off of him, but Manny decided to fake being hurt again tonight, and the lineup was changed.

7:19 p.m. Jason Giambi and his ‘stache strikes out, as well. If only the Yankees had Barry Bonds…

No, seriously. They should sign him. That guy would help that team IMMENSELY. And let’s fact it folks, they need help.

7:16 p.m. Next time maybe A-Rod should play ‘Like a Prayer’ by Madonna for his at-bat song to pump himself up. No way he strikes out just now if he had.

7:12 p.m. Consecutive singles (Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu) bring up Alex Rodriguez with runners on first and second and just one out. If A-Rod gets out, it’s Madonna’s fault.

7:08 p.m. When is an out, not really an out?

When the leadoff man makes the starter throw 10 pitches in the first at-bat of the game. Johnny Damon grounded out, but at this rate Josh Beckett will pitch four perfect innings but get taken out due to a really high pitch count (120).

6:45 p.m. Live-blogging a Yankees-Red Sox game is not a good decision.

Why not, you ask?

Because as much as I love doing this, sometimes sitting here for four-plus hours, documenting every little thing I find interesting is more than a little draining. And this game WILL take more than four hours. They always do. Pitchers’ duel tonight or not (and it will be), it will somehow find a way to last 4+ hours.

But hey, it won’t take more than six hours and 15 innings to end, will it? God, I hope not. Because I can’t do THIS again. No!

But hey, tonight’s game between the Sox and the Yanks is simply too good to pass up.

Joba vs. Beckett.

The return of David Ortiz to the lineup.

The talk of Barry Bonds potentially wearing pinstripes.

Manny still being Manny. Sorry, no links for that one. Just too many idiotic Manny moments to pick any specific link. Maybe someone should start a “Manny being Manny” Web site to fully document this.

Well, actually, here’s a link. The cry-baby Prima Donna is being a (wuss) and not playing tonight. Go figure.

But perhaps more important than any of this, the Yankees are charging in a very-intriguing AL East race, and are now just three games back from both Boston and Tampa Bay in the standings.

A sweep would sure be interesting, wouldn’t it?

Check back here throughout the night to see if the Yankees can get that sweep started with a Game 1 victory.

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Second-half Predictions/Projections

Yes, Josh Hamilton is good. Real, real good.

Yes, Josh Hamilton is incredibly inspirational. And uplifting.

No, Josh Hamilton is not driving in 162 runs this season.

Well, maybe. Pace dictates that he will, but he can’t possibly keep this up. Right?

Well I’m not sure. But that’s what I’m here for — to speculate. Predict. Prognosticate.

So with this in mind, let’s take a look at the players on pace to lead the major leagues in some key statistical categories…

Will they do it? Will they keep their pace up? Will someone overtake them? If so, then who?

  • BATTING AVERAGE: Chipper Jones (on pace for .376)

Hitting is absolutely down this year. Across the board. But don’t tell that to Chipper Jones, who had to slump these past few weeks to dip below a .380 batting average.

He’s a terrific hitter, but he’s 36-years-old and injury-prone, so I don’t think he’ll keep up this average. However, the fact that he DOES miss games will actually help him maintain his average. Plus, he walks a lot, which also helps.

His main competitors are Albert Pujols (.350), Lance Berkman (.347), Ian Kinsler (.337), Matt Holliday (.337) and Joe Mauer (.322).

Pujols is a beast, so you can’t count him out. Berkman is a monster, too, and plays in a great park to hit. So he’s in the race. Kinsler is in the midst of a 25-game hitting streak and plays in a great park surrounded by great hitters — hence, he’s in this race. Holliday is going to win a batting title eventually and plays in Coors: he’s in. And so is Mauer, who has already proved he can win a batting title.

The biggest threat to Chipper, in my opinion, is Holliday. I want to pick him to lead the majors in hitting, but he’s 39 points behind Chipper…so I’m sticking with Chipper (reluctantly) to hold on to win the batting title.

THE PREDICTION: Chipper Jones (.349)

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  • HOME RUNS: Ryan Howard (47)

The safe bet would be to go with a Philly. But Howard or Chase Utley? Or Pat Burrell, even?

And what about Adam Dunn? Ryan Braun? A Marlins middle infielder? Lance Berkman? Maybe Josh Hamilton makes a push?

There are a ton of options. Click HERE to see full list — 23 players have 19 or more, while Howard currently leads the majors with his 28 long balls.

Howard has to be the most likely winner. For starters, he’s leading now. That’s a good sign. And he’s got Utley and Burrell in that lineup. Pitchers, well, PITCH to him, because of that protection and because they know they can get him out — a .234 batting average and (ahem) 129 strikeouts prove that. Yes, 129. Already. Not a misprint.

Utley and Burrell rank third and fourth, respectively, in the ML rankings, but I don’t see either of them finishing on top. Maybe Utley, but not Burrell.

Adam Dunn intrigues me, though. He’s got 26, just two behind Howard, and plays in a park built for the home run. Plus this is no fluke: 40 in 2007, 40 in 2006, 40 in 2005 and 46 in 2004. Talk about consistency.

But Howard hit 47 last year and 58 the season before that. I’m not getting off that train.

THE PREDICTION: Ryan Howard (49)

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  • RUNS BATTED IN: Josh Hamilton (162)

Hamilton leads the AL and the Majors right now with 95.

No one else in the AL has more than 70. Yikes.

Carlos Quentin’s 70 for the White Sox ranks in a tie for 6th in baseball. Spots 2-5 are occupied by National Leaguers, and it’s not like they’re much closer to Hamilton.

Howard is second with 84. No other player is within 18 of Hamilton. Yikes, again.

Moral of the story? Josh Hamilton is a beast. And i don’t see him losing this.

Howard is only 11 behind (certainly do-able) and is in a great lineup to make a run at Hamilton, BUT Hamilton’s lineup is just as good — if not better — and that ballpark he plays in is a launching pad.

Carlos Lee or Lance Berkman could make a run, as well, but I would be crazy to not stick with Hamilton here. I may be stupid, but I’m not crazy.

THE PREDICTION: Josh Hamilton (147)

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  • RUNS SCORED: Ian Kinsler (144)

I’ve said it a few times now…Texas’ lineup is scary-good. That, coupled with Kinsler’s beastly 25-game hitting streak and .337 batting average has led to his ML-high 84 runs scored and incredible 144-run pace.

That being said, Kinsler will not lead the majors in runs scored when it’s all said and done.

Hanley Ramirez will.

Let me count the reasons why…

1. He’s only four runs back right now, so no big deal there.

2. Kinsler is a great player, no question, but he’s not keeping this up. He hit .263 last season with 96 runs scored. As a player he’s much closer to the numbers he’s putting up now, but he’s not THAT good.

3. Josh Hamilton is a great player, no question, but he can’t keep driving in Kinsler EVERY SINGLE TIME! Right?

4. Hanley has done this before: 125 runs scored last year and 119 before that in 2006.

5. Hanley is currently hitting 26 points lower than Kinsler. That gap WILL close, thus giving Hanley more opportunities to score, with Kinsler getting less.

6. Even though he’s hitting 26 points lower, Hanley’s OBP is almost identical to Ian’s. More walks = more runs scored.

7. I rest my case.

THE PREDICTION: Hanley Ramirez (133)

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  • WINS: Brandon Webb (22)

Wins is the most volatile stat on the planet.

We see guys pitch no-hitters and lose. Well, basically. We see guys give up a million runs and walks and win (I’m talking to you Dice-K).

We see pitchers hit the DL all the time.

We see guys have the worst luck (see Matt Cain, 2007).

Will we see Brandon Webb hold on to his lead? Won’t be easy.

Take a look at the current leaders – 21 pitchers have 10 or more wins already, meaning 20 players are within just three of Webb’s 13 wins thus far.

Basically, it’s a total crap shoot. So how can we figure this out?

Three guys are just one back with 12 wins, but I’m eliminating all three from contention…Cliff Lee because the Indians stink, Joe Saunders because he can’t keep this up and Edinson Volquez because, well, OK, he’s still in.

At 11 are Mike Mussina (he’s got a chance), Roy Halladay (ditto), Aaron Cook (no chance in hell), Kyle Loshe (ditto), Ervin Santana (could, but doubt it) and Tim Lincecum (he’s so darned good that he somehow gets wins without any semblance of an offense, but his teammates will ultimately ruin his chances).

At 10, we have a slew of guys. Most notably we have Andy Pettitte, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano, Ben Sheets and Daisuke Matsuzaka. They have chances with 10. Andy Sonnanstine, Gavin Floyd, Ricky Nolasco, Justin Duchscherer, A.J. Burnett and Vicente Padilla…don’t.

A few people at nine intrigue me: Josh Beckett, Cole Hamels, Tim Hudson and Chad Billingsley.

There are a bunch of terrific pitchers at eight, but they are all out of contention. They are already five games back of Webb and would need to leapfrog 29 other pitchers. Good luck with that.

So. What now?

I see two frontrunners: Webb and Halladay. And strangely enough, both are on teams that are 47-48 and can’t hit a lick.

So I’m going with Webb, because he has a two-win advantage.

THE PREDICTION: Brandon Webb (20)

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  • EARNED-RUN AVERAGE: Justin Duchscherer (1.82)

Not happening.

Refuse to fully buy into this guy. I won’t lie, the 71 hits allowed in 108.2 innings and the 0.87 WHIP are truly remarkable, but no way. Not happening.

He doesn’t strike anyone out. He used to be a reliever. He plays on a weak offensive team. His home ERA (1.36) can’t possibly continue. Not happening.

He does have a sizable lead over everyone else, though. But again, not happening.

So who will overtake the seemingly invincible Duchscherer?

Volquez? No, that ballpark is too hitter-friendly.

Lee? No, he can’t keep this up.

Danks? No. See, Lee.

Marcum? No. Can’t keep it up, either. And we don’t even know if he’ll end up qualifying.

That leaves Lincecum, Halladay, Dan Haren, Johan Santana, Zambrano, Sheets and Felix Hernandez. Everyone else is much more than a full run WORSE than Duchscherer.

Looking at track record, I’d be inclined to pick a guy like Halladay, Santana or Haren. Maybe even Sheets or Zambrano.

But I don’t care about that. I care about who is the best pitcher on the planet right now. And to me, that is Mr. Lincecum. And the park he plays in certainly helps him. So forget you, Duchscherer (I HATE spelling that name). Not happening.

I’m going with the 5-foot-10 warrior. Watch out for King Felix, though, ladies and gentleman.

THE PREDICTION: Tim Lincecum (2.52)

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  • STRIKEOUTS: CC Sabathia (229)

And that brings us once again to…Mr. Lincecum.

Because he’s on pace for 228.

But CC has the edge. And not because he’s on pace for one extra whiff. That means nothing. But because he gets to pitch the rest of the season in the NL. So does Lincecum, but CC amassed almost all those K’s in the tougher AL. Just imagine what he’ll do in the NL.

And if he has any starts against Philly in his future, you know he’ll get at least four in each game (assuming he faces Ryan Howard four times). Kidding. Well, not really.

Other contenders? Sure. Take a look. But the guys that intrigue me the most are Chad Billingsley (he is a BEAST and no one is talking about him), Cole Hamels, Edinson Volquez and A.J. Burnett.

This is a toughy.

I’m thinking it’s going to be CC. But I’m sticking with my main man Lincecum. All those K’s will help him lead the majors in ERA. That’s my reasoning and I’m sticking to it.

THE PREDICTION: Tim Lincecum (217)

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I’ll be happy if I get one right.

Post All-Star Game Thoughts

Nobody is saying it was pretty.

You know, the record-breaking 34 strikeouts.

Or the record-breaking 28 men left on base.

Or the record-breaking three errors by ONE player.

Or the 15 inning, four hour and 50 minute marathon of a game that seemingly NOBODY wanted to win.

No, in many ways it wasn’t pretty.

But nobody — and I do mean, nobody — is saying it wasn’t truly special.

Because it was.

So many things to remember: Dan Uggla’s horrific night, the pre-game ceremony honoring 49 living legends, the dramatic plays (and boy were there a lot of them), the pure thought of another tie like in 2002; with the added bonus that Bud Selig was cringing in his seat for six-plus innings, and of course, the game that NEVER ended.

And well, the live-blog (written by yours truly) that NEVER ended, either.

Was it the most well-played all-star game ever?

No. Just ask Dan Uggla.

But was it the most entertaining one we’ve seen in a long, long time?

Yes. Just don’t ask Dan Uggla.

Live Blog: 2008 All-Star Game

1:37 a.m. INCREDIBLE!

Michael Young again! He’s an all-star beast!

An incredibly-close play at home plate, but his sac-fly to right was JUST deep enough to beat the good throw by Corey Hart and win it for the AL, 4-3 in 15 innings!

And the AL wins, AGAIN! Anyone surprised? That’s like 1,500,000 wins in a row for the AL in the Midsummer Classic.

A fitting way to end the game, with a thrilling play at home plate.

Incredible.

The game took 4 hours, 50 minutes.

I kept this live-game-blog for approximately six hours! Six!

And when it all started, I predicted that this game would end in a tie.

I was close.

Yuck…I wrote almost 4,500 words on this live-blog

I think I’m sick.

And if you read every single one of those words…I think you’re sick.

I need sleep, too.

More to come tomorrow. I can’t process anymore.

I can’t.

Last thought: Best all-star game ever? Maybe. Probably at least in my lifetime (although I’m only 22).

1:35 a.m. J.D. Drew has walked! Bases loaded, one out.

For?

Michael Young!

1:33 a.m. Oh boy, again.

Single by Navarro. First and second, one out.

J.D. Drew has his 35th chance to win MVP here…

1:31 a.m. You have got to be kidding me!

GREAT catch by Ryan Ludwick to temporarily, at least, save the day for the NL.

One out, and a man on first.

Up comes Dioner Navarro.

1:30 a.m. Justin Morneau leads off the inning with a single. Oh boy.

1:28 a.m. And the NL has a new pitcher (Brad Lidge) and a new catcher (Brian McCann).

Let’s see how this pans out.

1:24 a.m. Kazmir looked dominant to the first two batters (both outs) but he just walked David Wright on four pitches. 

But then he got the next guy to ground out.

To the bottom of the 15th!

1:22 a.m. UPDATE: Dan Uggla tonight – 0-4 (3K, DP, 6 LOB) and three errors.

Double ouch!

1:20 a.m. Dan Uggla tonight: 0-3 (2 K’s and a DP) and three errors.

OUCH.

1:19 a.m. Statistics update: The NL has struck out 16 times, the AL 17 times.

The NL has left 10 men on base, 15 for the AL.

1:18 a.m.
And Longoria just ruined his (and I’m not lying) 1,742nd chance of winning MVP in this game.

To the 15th we go!

1:14 a.m.
Words cannot explain how good and exciting this game is.

Brandon Webb comes in and gets a great play from Tejada at short for the first out — robbing Carlos Guillen’s liner.

And now Sizemore just struck out. Two outs. That didn’t take long.

1:11 a.m.
This game goes into the bottom of the 14th, STILL tied at 3-3.

WAIT.

WAIT.

Let’s say this game DOES end in a tie…how is home-field for the World Series determined?

Anyone know??

1:09 a.m. And ANOTHER deep fly (this time, by Martin) but not deep enough to right. Two outs. And up comes Mr. I-am-200-years-old Miguel Tejada.

1:07 a.m.
Oh. My. God.

I thought — and so did everyone else — that Nate McLouth just hit a go-ahead home run.

But it was not to be. Warning-track power for Mr. McLouth.

Amazing.

1:06 a.m. And if they do win, it’s going to have to be in inning No. 14 or later, because Carlos Quentin just struck out to end the 13th.

I need a nap.

1:04 a.m.
If the AL wins this game…Dan Uggla should win the MVP.

Yes, you heard me right.

1:03 a.m. Michael Young strikes out looking, but Drew steals second base. Two outs.

12:58 a.m.
Carlos Marmol comes in (finally, someone NOT named Aaron Cook) and immediately gets Navarro out.

J.D. Drew up next. MVP? Maybe, but he’ll have to earn it later, because he just reached on…get this…Dan Uggla’s THIRD ERROR! Third! All in extra innings! He had six all year coming into this game!

12:53 a.m.
Corey Hart strikes out. Two out. Ludwick up, and he is retired.

Bottom of the 13th we go!

Hey Clint…pitch someone NOT named Aaron Cook.

12:49 a.m. Leadoff bloop single for David Wright off of Sherrill.

And oh WOW. Guzman bunts, but Sherrill gets the force out at second base.

12:46 a.m.
I can’t take this any longer.

We’re going to the 13th.

How does Aaron Cook keep getting out of these jams??

How?

How?

How?

12:45 a.m. Imagine if this game was in an NL park…this would be brutal. I know I don’t want to see pitchers bat here.

Although the way things are going, maybe they are the only ones who COULD get a hit.

12:42 a.m. Close call on a foul ball. And oh my! Longoria struck out! Two outs.

And Morneau is being intentionally walked right now.

First and third, two outs. Kinsler coming up…

I predict a game-winning hit…

12:41 a.m.
My lord! The AL is 3-19 with runners in scoring positionand the NL is 0-6. Yikes!

12:39 a.m.
Leadoff double by Carlos Guillen (man, he can hit) to start the bottom of the 12th.

Hey Clint…take out Cook! Put in someone else. Please. Jeezes.

And Sizemore rips it to second, effectively bunting over Guillen to third.

One out. Bringing up Evan Longoria.

12:38 a.m.
I need a math major to help me figure out how many men both teams have left on base in these last few innings.

And seriously, every player has had like three chances to win this game and win MVP honors.

Does anyone want it?

12:36 a.m. Three pitches! That’s all he needed to strike out Adrian Gonzalez.

Yikes! Does anyone want to score.

p.s, I know I’m using too many exclamation points…but my god! What a game!

12:34 a.m.
Boy, did I pick a good game to live-blog.

I can’t handle this much longer.

George Sherrill is coming in for Soria with two outs and the bases loaded in the 12th…

12:31 a.m.
Can Uggla atone for his Uggla-ness from earlier??

Umm…NO!

Uggla looks foolish as Soria just dropped a FILTHY curveball. And I do mean, FILTHY!

Credit to ‘Uggla-ness’ goes to my buddy Jeff.

12:29 a.m. What are you doing Justin Morneau??

McLouth (who is seconds away from winning MVP), just bunted Ludwick over to second…but wait! Morneau nonchalantly shovels it over to first and everyone is SAFE!

And now Martin bunts, and Morneau messed up again! Looked like it was going to go foul if he let it go.

Second and third, one out now.

Intentional pass to Tejada, setting bases loaded and one out for…Dan Uggla!

He could seriously redeem himself here.

12:28 a.m. Soria still in, and he starts things off vicariously by walking Ryan Ludwick.

12:22 a.m. Wrong call again!!!!!!!!

Live-blog can’t do this justice right now.

I hope you just saw that.

I really do.

Nate McLouth just gunned down Navarro at the plate for the second out after Michael Young singled.

This is incredible. It appears to have been the wrong call, as it looked like Navarro got under the tag.

And Carlos Quentin grounded out to third (nice play by Guzman, who isn’t a third baseman) to end the inning.

This is insane! To the 12th we go!

12:20 a.m.
J.D. Drew singles. First and second, one out. Bringing up Michael Young, who certainly has some experience being the h
ero in an all-star game.

12:18 a.m.
Never tagged him!

Again, the umpire gets the call wrong at second base.

Kinsler gunned down at second on the steal attempt, albeit, it was the wrong call. Nice pitchout, though! Hey, Clint Hurdle did something right!

Navarro walks after all that. Guy still on first, but now one out.

12:15 a.m. Ian Kinsler leads off with a single in the bottom of the 11th off of Cook.

Hello!

Clint Hurdle, are you there?

Brad Lidge is waiting in the bullpen.

Put him in!

12:11 a.m.
Cristian Guzman flies out to center for the second out. Corey Hart flies out as well.

Again, the AL has a chance to take this one, before, dare I saw it, we end in another tie. Ha!

12:10 a.m. David Wright strikes out for the first out.

12:08 a.m. Leadoff single by Adrian Gonzalez in the 11th off of Joakim Soria.

12:04 a.m.
Aren’t we glad that we stayed up past our bedtimes??

Bases loaded, no outs.

Grady Sizemore? Can’t get it done.

Evan Longoria? Can’t get it done.

Justin Morneau? Can’t get it done.

Dan Uggla made two errors in the inning, Two. And somehow, no one scores off of arguably the worst pitcher in the game and arguably the worst managing decision of the night (not putting in a strikeout artist like Brad Lidge into the game).

This is special.

We go to the 11th!

I smell a tie…

12:03 a.m. Evan Longoria with a chance to play hero???

Grounds out for the force play at home!

AMAZING.

Two outs. Bases still loaded.

Up comes Justin Morneau.

12:02 a.m.
Man, this game isn’t lacking for drama, is it?

Sizemore grounds out for a force play at home. Uggla made the play! No errors! Look mom!

12:00 a.m.
Infield in. Outfield in. Bases loaded, no out after an intentional walk.

Up comes Grady Sizemore.

11:59 p.m. AHHHHH! Put in Brad Lidge!

You NEED a strikeout, and you NEED it badly.

Aaron Cook is NOT going to get it,

NOT.

NOT.

11:56 p.m. And the downfall of Dan Uggla’s career has begun.

Kidding.

But he is costing his team the all-star game.

He makes an error on Michael Young’s grounder, to lead off the inning. And that comes after he hit into an inning-ending double play in the 10th with runners on first and third and one out off of Rivera.

And OH MY GOSH, he does it AGAIN!

This time, off the bat of Carlos Quentin. First and third, no out!

Blame Uggla, blame Hurdle. Why isn’t Lidge pitching>>

11:53 p.m. Speaking of incredible, Mariano gets a nice 4-6-3 DP off the bat of Dan Uggla.

Still tied! We head to the bottom of the 10th, as the AL has its second chance to win it.

11:50 p.m. Incredible. We all knew it’s been like 1,567 years since the NL has won one of these games, but the last time was during the first year of Joe Torre’s tenure as Yankees skipper.

Crazy.

And speaking of crazy, someone actually got a hit off of Rivera!

Oh my.

Make that two hits.

First and third, one out after a lucky hit-and-run by Tejada-Martin,

11:47 p.m.
FILTHY. Mariano paints the corner to Nate McLouth, for strike three and the first out. So filthy.

11:44 p.m. Nobody loves stats more than me, but sometimes they mean absolutely NOTHING.

The NL is 9-0-1 all-time in all-star games that go into extra-innings.

Take it for what it’s worth…which is nothing.

11:43 p.m. I predicted before the game started (and I was serious) that this game would result in a tie.

Who’s crazy now?

Looking more likely by the second,

11:42 p.m. Alright. I am wrong from time-to-time (although, quite rare) and an apology from me to both Ryan Dempster and Clint Hurdle are in order.

I’m sorry.

11:39 p.m. Ian Kinsler strikes out to start the inning, while Dioner Navarro strikes out as well. Two outs. And up comes…J.D. Drew. Hmm.

11:36 p.m.
For the 100th time tonight, I am going to question Clint Hurdle.

It’s nothing personal, I swear.

I just think Brad Lidge is the MUCH better option here than Ryan Dempster.

11:32 p.m.  I love baseball.

Classic Mariano: the batter knew EXACTLY what was coming…and STILL couldn’t hit it. NO chance.

And Navarro makes up a bit for his prior mistake and throws out the runner for the strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play.

We head to the last of the ninth inning…tied 3-3 at Yankee Stadium.

Doesn’t get much better than this, does it?
 
11:27 p.m. Well, I was close. Enter Sandman…except with one out in the ninth, not two.

Half-credit?

11:23 p.m. Hmm. In comes Francisco Rodriguez. Now, does Terry Francona put in Mariano Rivera in this inning? Because if he doesn’t…this game could end in the bottom of the ninth without him pitching at all.

My guess? Rivera comes in with two outs in the ninth so he has a chance of winning the ball game.

Because he can’t save the game now. That would be impossible.

11:16 p.m. Grady Sizemore singled off of Wagner and then stole second, and the rookie, Evan Longoria (who needs Eva??) comes up with a big, two-out, two-strike double down the left field line to tie the score at 3-3.

Looks like the fans correctly voted him in as the 32nd man to the AL roster. And looks like I was right…Billy Wagner is stinking up the joint these last few weeks and it continues in the all-star game.

We head to the ninth, all tied

This is awesome!

11:12 p.m. Absolute GAS from Wilson. Blew it right past Carlos Guillen for the second out of the inning.

He certainly did HIS job.

(Cut to my buddy eating crow now…)

In comes Billy Wagner now. And the way he’s been pitching lately, there still may be a crooked number on that scoreboard this half-inning.

11:08 p.m.
My buddy Jeff got his wish. He wants the AL to win, and he thinks it’s a lock that they will assuming Hurdle inserts Brian Wilson into the game.

And lo and behold, in comes Wilson.

And a crooked number on the scoreboard, my friend firmly believes.

We shall see.

11:03 p.m.
A single, stolen base and a throwing error by Navarro has set up the NL with a runner on third and one out. And Adrian Gonzalez promptly drives him in with a sac-fly to left.

NL back in front, 3-2.

10:59 p.m.
As Jonathan Papelbon comes in, let’s check out a few stories…

And now Papelbon, is getting berated by the Yankees fans. Love it. Hate New York, Hate Boston.

There. I said it.

Sue me.

10:53 p.m.
Who needs a sac-fly when you have J.D. Drew to hit a two-run home run in his first career all-star at-bat?

And my god, the crowd erupted when he hit it!

Drew plays for Boston.

I repeat, Boston. Not New York.

Wow. 

Score is tied, 2-2, after seven.

I’m telling you. We’re going to have a tie…

10:51 p.m. FILTHY pitch to Dioner Navarro for a called third strike. Which is big, because the AL will have
to get a hit off of Volquez if they hope to score in the 7th. Navarro blew the chance for a sac-fly to cut the lead to one.

10:46 p.m. Rude awakening for Edinson Volquez by Justin Morneau, who laced a leadoff double to open the bottom of the 7th inning.

This wouldn’t have happened it someone had listened to me in the 6th…

I’m talking to YOU Clint Hurdle!

10:40 p.m. Honestly…good luck scoring again, NL.

The AL can trump out Joe Nathan, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Papelbon and Mariano Rivera in the final three innings.

That’s a joke.

Enter Sandman x 4.

10:37 p.m. Joe Nathan is on the mound for the AL in the 7th. They just said his 90% conversion rate for saves is 2nd all-time (with at least 200 save opportunities).

Who the heck is first? How do they NOT tell us?

That angers me greatly.

10:33 p.m. Well maybe Hurdle knew what he was doing, Once again, the AL fails to score. Haren works around Hamilton’s leadoff single and his stolen base a batter later.

But we’re still in a fight, Clint.

10:29 p.m. Dammit, Clint Hurdle. You just jipped the American People. How do you NOT pitch Edinson Volquez against Josh Hamilton to lead off the 6th inning??

Why does Dan Haren need to pitch another inning? There are a bunch of pitchers that need to get in here.

But forget about that…I want to see Hamilton vs. Volquez!

10:28 p.m. Fine. Texas, you don’t need to send Josh Hamilton to AAA. He just got a hit. About time.

10:24 p.m.
Justin Duchscherer –way too many letters there, although I’m really not one to talk…my last name is longer — just got out of the jam, NL leads, 2-0, as we head to the bottom of the 6th.

10:21 p.m. Derek Jeter was just interviewed by Kevin Kennedy, and they talked about George Steinbrenner. Jeter said something about when you think of the Yankees, you think of Steinbrenner, and you don’t think of many owners like that in baseball.

All true.

But a year from now, when I think of the Chicago Cubs…I want to think of Mark Cuban.

Please, MLB, let that man buy the Cubs. Please.

10:20 p.m. Deep fly off the bat of Lance “Big Puma” Berkman, good for a sac-fly and a 2-0 lead for the NL.

10:18 p.m.
OK, good pitching beats all good hitting, except for when that hitter is named Hanley Ramirez and Chase Utley. First and third, no out.

10:14 p.m.
Honestly, if anyone can help me keep track of all these changes to the lineups, your services are sorely needed.

My head hurts.

10:11 p.m. A single, stolen base and a walk, but once again, no runs for the AL. The NL still leads, 1-0, after five complete at Yankee Stadium.

10:03 p.m. When you’re struggling to get hits that badly, you take what you can get.

Joe Mauer is taking that gift of a single.

10:01 p.m. Dan Haren started for the AL in the all-star game last year. Now he’s pitching for the NL in the 5th inning the following season. You don’t see that often.

Memo to GM’s: don’t trade him.

Which reminds me, that Rich Harden trade was ABOMINABLE on the A’s part. Billy Beane is basically never wrong, but I can’t defend him on this one.
Embarrassing.

9:53 p.m.
Before the start of the 5th inning, my buddy Jeff said “This will be the inning for the NL.”

Looks like he’s correct; 1-0 NL after Matt Holliday smokes a home run to right.

9:49 p.m. WOW. Who does Milton Bradley think he is? Rickey Henderson? Lou Brock? Ichiro?

He just got leaning towards second (presumably to steal another base) and Big Z had other ideas.

Through four innings, 0-0.

9:48 p.m. You gotta hand it to Manny sometimes. He sure knows how to have fun.

And apparently, so does Carlos Zambrano, who just threw a 60 MPH curveball that intentionally went over the head of Manny.

Both had laughs, and so did I watching on TV. Love it.

9:39 p.m.
I may be in the minority here, but I’ll take a pitchers’ duel, and a great defensive play (or throw, like we just got from Ichiro in right field…what else is new?) ANY day over a high-scorer.

Although games like THESE certainly are fun, aren’t they?

By the way, Albert Pujols was safe on that play. But the throw beat the runner, and that’s all the umpire ever seems to care about…

9:34 p.m.
Ichiro leads off with a single, but Jeter hits into a double play and Hamilton grounds out. Scoreless after three.

9:27 p.m. Hanley Ramirez takes a look back at the home plate umpire after a borderline 2-0 pitch is called a strike on the outside corner.

I want to see a player get thrown out in an all-star game.

My money is on Milton Bradley!

Which brings me to my next point…if your last name is Bradley…you CANNOT name your kid Milton!

And we wonder why he randomly goes crazy sometimes!?

9:25 p.m. It may be a bit difficult to understand him, but listening to Yogi Berra (and his Yogi-isms) is a treat.

9:22 p.m. Need something to read during innings?

Look no further than the man who inspired the title of this blog, and well, inspired me…

Mr. Peter Gammons

STILL the man.

9:20 p.m. Sheets walks two, but no damage is done as the score remains 0-0 after two. Well done by both Cliff Lee and Sheets.

Moral of the story?

Good pitching beats good hitting EVERY SINGLE TIME!

9:11 p,m. I can guarantee that Ben Sheets’ curveball on strike three to Manny Ramirez will be featured on the “That’s Nasty” segment on baseball tonight after the game.

9:03 p.m. He’s not going to hit .400 (nor will anyone anytime soon) but Chipper Jones is still really good. Too bad that single up the middle doesn’t count (because the slacker is only hitting .378 right now).

9:00 p.m. One inning complete, 0-0.

I love watching good pitching and we got plenty of that tonight.

While we’re waiting for the second inning, take a look at Bud Selig trying to take away the spotlight tonight from the all-star game and the special pre-game ceremony with all the hall-of-famers.

8:57 p.m. Hamilton just struck out!? He should be benched. He can’t hit a lick.

8:56 p.m. Derek Jeter just singled the other way at Yankee Stadium.

Like he’s never done that before.

And he just stole second.

The man knows how to play baseball.

8:54 p.m. Ichiro just flew out to right for the first out.

Which got me to thinking…

Who doesn’t want to see Ichiro in a home run derby? Tell me he wouldn’t hit at LEAST five in every round. I’m serious.

He would have murdered the short porch in right field last night, Maybe not Josh Hamilton-esque, but it would have been impressive and fun to watch.

8:50 p.m. Hmm. Chase Utley strikes out on four pitches, as well. AL must have a better lineup. This game is over.

Berkman flies out to end the inning, and Lee didn’t strike out the side. What a slacker.

8:48 p.m. Hanley Ramirez struck out on four pitches to start the game…maybe that lineup isn’t as good as we thought…

8:46 p.m. Advantage already for the NL: Ryan Braun is hitting SEVENTH! I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s a pretty good lineup the NL has this year.

8:45 p.m. And the answer is…

NOBODY!

Gotta love Bud Selig!

8:44
p.m.
While we wait for the game to start, let’s have a trivia question: Who won the all-star game MVP in 2002?

Answer shortly, and no cheating!

8:34 p.m. Love him or hate him, you have to appreciate a moment like this as George “The Boss” Steinbrenner is carted onto the field to deliver the ball to the five Yankees hall-of-famers to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

My buddy Jeff (an avid Red Sox fan, and Steinbrenner hater…how original!) just said the following: “Chuck Knoblauch should have thrown out the first pitch and knocked someone out in the stands.”

He may be biased, but that’s funny (and probably true).

8:32 p.m. All the hall-of-famers on the field tonight just converged on the pitchers’ mound…how would you like to be a photographer there at that moment?

8:24 p.m. As the starting lineups are being announced, let’s take a look at who SHOULD be starting for both the AL and the NL.

And it should have been ME, not 1,000,000,000 fans that decided this…

8:14 p.m. Now THIS is special…

Major League Baseball just honored a laundry list of living hall-of-famers. That is one talented ball field.

This has to be a special moment for all involved: the fans, the current players and the hall-of-famers. This is what baseball and the history of the game is all about. Perfect night to be doing this.

If you didn’t get goosebumps when they introduced guys like Willie Mays and Hank Aaron…than there is something vastly wrong with you.

Pitchers: Steve Carlton, Dennis Eckersley, Bob Feller, Rollie Fingers, Bob Gibson, Ferguson Jenkins, Juan Marichal, Phil Niekro, Jim Palmer, Gaylord Perry, Robin Roberts, Bruce Sutter, Don Sutton, Goose Gossage, Whitey Ford

First base: Orlando Cepeda, Harmon Killebrew, Eddie Murray, Tony Perez, Willie McCovey

Second base: Rod Carew, Bill Mazeroski, Ryne Sandberg

Third base: Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt, George Brett, Wade Boggs

Shortstop: Luis Aparacio, Ozzie Smith, Robin Yount, Ernie Banks, Cal Ripken, Jr.

Designated hitter: Paul Molitor

Catcher: Gary Carter, Yogi Berra

Outfield: Lou Brock, Billy Williams, Ralph Kiner, Willie Mays, Tony Gwynn, Al Kaline, Frank Robinson, Dave Winfield, Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson

Managers: Earl Weaver, Tommy Lasorda, Dick Williams

Front office: Lee McPhail 

8:11 p.m. For more on All-Star Game history, click HERE.

8:09 p.m. There are a lot of storylines in this all-star game, but the one that sticks out in my mind most is the recent futility — and I do mean futility — of the National League in these games.

Take a look…

2007: AL wins
2006: AL wins
2005: AL wins
2004: AL wins
2003: AL wins
2002: TIE (SO stupid…thanks Bud)
2001: AL wins
2000: AL wins
1999: AL wins
1998: AL wins
1997: AL wins

…Sense a theme here?

WAIT! There IS a pattern: AL wins five years in a row; a tie; AL wins five years in a row; a tie???

Predicted final score: 5-5 (hey, yiu heard it here first!)

Good thing Selig is still the commissioner, because he can make it happen.

8:00 p.m. Unless Josh Hamilton hits for the cycle AND hits a
walk-off grand slam in the ninth inning, this All-Star Game can’t
possibly top last night.

Ask me.

Ask Jayson Stark (the best baseball writer on this planet).

Ask anyone.

What Hamilton did in the home run derby is something that I will NEVER forget.

If
the 2008 All-Star Game is just 1/10 as good, we’re in for a treat. And
in case we are — or even if we aren’t — I’ll be here the whole way to
provide commentary, analysis, thoughts and other useless tidbits.

Check back in a second for all-star links, lineups and more…

The Should-Be All-Star Starters (NL Edition)

Ken Griffey, Jr. = amazing career and first-ballot hall-of-famer.

Ken Griffey, Jr. = not an all-star in 2008.

Far from it, not even close.

Yes, but tell that to the fans. Because, apparently, they didn’t get that memo.

It’s time we stop letting the fans ruin the all-star game.

Besides, that’s Bud Selig’s job. Tie anyone?

Here’s who SHOULD, not WILL start in the all-star game for the National League.

For my AL picks, chick HERE.

CATCHER: Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs (.290 AVG, 14 HR, 51 RBI)

This may be the most competitive race in the NL, with Brian McCann, Russell Martin and Bengie Molina (name that Molina!) all putting up scarily-similar numbers this season.

The best case could be made by McCann, who has almost identicle numbers as Soto across the board.

Soto:       .290 AVG, 14 HR, 51 RBI, .376 OBP, .524 SLG, 32 R, 83 H, 23 2B
McCann:  .298 AVG, 14 HR, 47 RBI, .368 OBP, .534 SLG, 36 R, 87 H, 25 2B

I’ll admit, McCann holds a slight edge in a majority of the categories, but I’m picking Soto for a few reasons.

1. Soto has been dealing with some injuries, but has stayed in the lineup — to the detriment of his offensive output. Even with these injuries, his numbers are just as good as McCann’s.

2. McCann is a good defensive catcher, no question. But Cubs pitchers RAVE about the way that Soto has come in and taken over the catching responsibilities. By all accounts, they love throwing to him and he’s been a huge asset behind the plate, as well as at it. Plus, Soto has a better range factor and a better rate of throwing would-be basestealers out.

FIRST BASE: Lance Berkman, Houston Astros (.355 AVG, 22 HR, 69 RBI)

He’s been the most productive hitter in all of baseball. It’s that simple.

He leads NL first baseman in: runs, hits, doubles, home runs, stolen bases, batting average and slugging percentage.

Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols will 100% be on the all-star team, as well, but not even those two can match what Berkman is doing.

He’s on pace for 100 extra-base hits, 139 runs, 207 hits, 130 RBI and 23 steals; while hitting .355 and slugging .677.

Not bad.

SECOND BASE: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies (.299 AVG, 24 HR, 67 RBI)

This is an interesting one. Utley is quite arguably the MVP of the National League, but he may not even deserve to start in the all-star game at his position.

That’s how good Dan Uggla has been for Florida.

Let’s compare…

Utley: .299 AVG, 24 HR, 67 RBI, .383 OBP, .607 SLG, 64 R, 99 H,
Uggla: .289 AVG, 23 HR, 58 RBI, .375 OBP, .620 SLG, 57 R, 83 H

Utley leads in all of those categories except for one. Granted, it isn’t a huge lead, but still. Plus, Uggla has struck out 36 more times than Utley, despite 44 less at-bats.

Defensively, Utley has a much better range factor and zone rating at second base.

I hate not to give this to Uggla, because he deserves it. But I just think Utley deserves it SLIGHTLY more.


SHORTSTOP:
Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins (.303 AVG, 21 HR, 43 RBI)

Best shortstop on the planet.

Not close.

If i could take one player to start my franchise, I take this guy. Hands down.

On pace for 40 homers, 40 steals. Shortstops aren’t supposed to do that.

Also on pace to score 142 runs. He’s leading NL shortstops in virtually anything.

The scariest thing of all? He’s only 24-years-old; still years away from his prime.

Pencil him in as the all-star starter in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, etc.

THIRD BASE: Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves (.390 AVG, 17 HR, 48 RBI)

I want to take David Wright and his 66 RBIs (11 more than any other NL third baseman) but Chipper gives me 100 reasons not to.

100 points on the batting average, that is.

The man is hitting .390.

Discussion over.

OUTFIELD: Pat Burrell, Philadelphia Phillies (.278 AVG, 21 HR, 53 RBI), Ryn Ludwick (.291 AVG, 16 HR, 56 RBI) and Carlos Lee,, Houston Astros (.293 AVG, 19 HR, 65 RBI)

This is a weak year for NL outfielders, as evidenced by the fact that none of my three picks to start are hitting above .300. In fact, only four outfielders in the ENTIRE National League are above the .300 mark.

One of them was Matt Holliday, whom I wanted to pick, but his fairly substantial home-road splits (ahem, Coors Field) have inflated his numbers a bit. Plus, he missed some time to the DL, as well.

Also just missing out in my book is Nate McLouth and Ryan Braun.

Why Lee? He leads NL OF’s with 65 RBI (seven more than anyone else) and he ranks in the top five in hits, doubles, home runs and slugging percentage.

Why Ludwick?  His .570 slugging percentage trails only Burrell, his .936 OPS ranks third and so do his 56 RBIs.

Why Burrell? It’s simple. He paces all outfielders in the senior circuit in home runs, slugging percentage, OPS and ranks second on on-base percentage.

 
DESIGNATED HITTER: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (.348 AVG, 18 HR, 48 RBI)

I wanted to take Adrian Gonzalez or Dan Uggla, but when a guy is hitting .348 with an on-base percentage of .470 and slugging percentage of .625, well, you can’t.

Pujols ranks in the Top 3 in the NL in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS.

He’s the DH.

Once again, I’m sorry Dan Uggla.

The Should-Be All-Star Starters (AL Edition)

I don’t care if Ken Griffey, Jr. had hit his 900th — not 600th — career home run this season: the man doesn’t deserve to start in the all-star game.

Yes, the game is “for the fans.” But it’s also for the players — and you have to earn your way onto the team. And popularity and past performances is NOT earning your way onto the team.

What have you done for me lately Griffey?

Fans get the voting wrong all the time. Griffey is yet another example of that, assuming he does hold onto a spot in the NL.

But for now, let’s focus on the American League, and decipher who SHOULD — not WILL — be starting for the AL in Yankee Stadium for the 2008 All-Star game.

CATCHER: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins (.326 AVG, 3 HR, 36 RBI)

Mauer leads AL catchers with 36 RBI and a .326 AVG. In fact, he leads ALL players in the American League in hitting.

He also leads in runs scored with 51 (13 more than anyone else), hits (89), doubles (22), walks (43), on-base percentage (.423) and OPS (.859).

Yeah, I think he deserves it.

Only two other catchers in the AL are having good seasons — Tampa Bay’s Dioner Navarro (.312 AVG, 4 HR, 33 RBI) and Chicago’s A.J. Pierzynski (.300 AVG, 7 HR, 32 RBI). One or both could find themselves backing up Mauer — exactly where they should be.

FIRST BASE: Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox (.306 AVG, 13 HR, 51 RBI)

This is perhaps the toughest decision to be made in the AL this year.

Minnesota’s Justin Morneau (.310 AVG, 12 HR, 63 RBI) and New York’s Jason Giambi (.268 AVG, 18 HR, 52 RBI) both have cases to be made over Youkilis: Giambi has more homers and RBI, while Morneau has a better average and 12 more RBIs.

But, Youkilis leads all AL first baseman in runs (48) and doubles (22), while ranking second in hits (89), home runs (13), on-base percentage (.376) and slugging percentage (.529).

Most importantly, he leads in triples with three! OK, that’s not really important, but he has played excellent defense the whole season and has picked up the pace with David Ortiz out of the lineup for the Red Sox.

Morneau and Giambi both have cases, but in my mind they should be backing up Youkilis.

SECOND BASE: Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers (.323 AVG, 13 HR, 50 RBI)

This is unquestionably the easiest decision to be made in the AL this year.

Sure, guys like Dustin Pedroia, Brian Roberts and Jose Lopez have all had nice seasons at second base, but none of them have come close to what Kinsler is doing under-the-radar for Texas.

Kinsler ranks first among AL second baseman in nearly everything: runs scored (74), hits (114), home runs (13), RBI (50), stolen bases (23), batting average (.323), on-base percentage (.381), slugging percentage (.533) and OPS (.913).

He’s on pace for: 142 runs, 218 hits, 52 doubles, 8 triples, 25 HR, 96 RBI and 44 SB (2 CS!).

I’m not sure how the fan voting is currently going, but if this guy doesn’t get voted to start — fans should forever lose the right to pick players.


SHORTSTOP:
Michael Young, Texas Rangers (.288 AVG, 7 HR, 45 RBI)

I’ll admit, not the prettiest numbers. Numbers that probably shouldn’t constitute an all-star starter at this point in the season.

But it’s beyond slim picking in the AL nowadays at shortstop. Long gone are the days when we had Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, Miguel Tejada and Derek Jeter.

All shortstops in the American League have combined to hit just .259 this season (1,159-for-4,481) and only one has more than seven home runs — and that’s Jhonny Peralta (12) but he’s hitting a robust .253.

Young leads them all in the biggest categories: runs (58), hits (100), RBI (45) OPS (.760) and batting average at .288.

So the Rangers have both starters up the middle, and something tells me Mr. Josh Hamilton will find his way onto the starters in the outfield.

Now, only if Texas had any pitching…


THIRD BASE:
Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees (.321 AVG, 17 HR, 47 RBI)

Love him, hate him, loathe him: he’s still the class of the AL at third base. Maybe in all of baseball.

Mike Lowell, Joe Crede and Evan Longoria certainly get consideration for the spot, but it’s A-Rod. And you KNOW it.

He leads all AL third baseman in average (.321), home runs (17), slugging percentage (.591), on-base percentage (.399) and OPS (.990); which is even more impressive when you consider he had a stint on the 15-day DL earlier this season.

OUTFIELD: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers (.308 AVG, 19 HR, 82 RBI), Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox (.280 AVG, 19 HR, 61 RBI) and J.D. Drew, Boston Red Sox (.299 AVG, 16 HR, 50 RBI)

First, let’s get all the apologies out of the way: sorry to Jose Guillen, Jermaine Dye, Magglio Ordonez and Grady Sizemore.

If you’re wondering where Milton Bradley is: he has 176 at-bats at DH, while just 68 in the OF…he’s my designated hitter.

Hamilton needs no explanation: leads the planet in RBIs by a wide margin, and is second in the AL in homers with 19 (tied with Quentin).

Quentin has those 19 homers and his 61 RBIs rank in a tie for third for all players in the AL. His OPS (.911) ranks third among AL outfielders, his slugging percentage (.526) is fifth and so does is on-base percentage (.385). He has been a huge surprise for the White Sox (his name isn’t even on the All-Star ballot) and has helped carry them to a 47-36 record with sluggerd Jim Thome, Nick Swisher and Paul Konerko all struggling.

The Drew selection may surprise some, but what is more surprising is that he leads all AL outfielders with a .412 on-base percentage (B.J. Upton is second at .392), slugging percentage (.577) and OPS (.989). Much like Quentin has done for the White Sox, Drew has picked up the Red Sox who are without David Ortiz and without a 100% Manny Ramirez.

DESIGNATED HITTER: Milton Bradley, Texas Rangers (.320 AVG, 17 HR, 51 RBI)

David Ortiz has been hurt, Jim Thome is hitting .228, Sheffield is hitting .227 and Travis Hafner has been perhaps the most disappointing player in all of baseball.

Not a good year for the DH’s, to say the least.

But a great year to be Milton Bradley.

He leads the entire AL in slugging percentage at .611. He leads the entire AL in on-base percentage at .437. He leads the entire AL in OPS at 1.048.

His .320 AVG ranks seventh.

What a slacker.

The All Playing-Over-Their-Heads Team (Part 2)

If you’re like me, you had Cliff Lee and Joe Saunders one-two in the AL Cy Young before the season started.

Uhh, not so much.

You correctly called Edinson Volquez and Ryan Dempster in the NL Cy Young race though for sure.

Right…

We did think Volquez was going to be good, but THIS good? This soon? And Dempster? More like Ryan Dumpster the last few seasons. Yeah, makes perfect sense that he would go from struggling closer to 100% unbeatable at home (9-0 in 10 starts) this season.

I saw it all along.

A few days back, I took a look at the hitters across baseball that were playing out of their, well, “butts.”

Now it’s time to look at the starting pitchers…

STARTING PITCHERS:

  • Ryan Dempster (CHC), Cliff Lee (CLE), Joe Saunders (LAA), Ervin Santana (LAA), Justin Duchscherer (OAK), Vicente Padilla (TEX), Gavin Floyd (CHW), John Danks (CHW), Armando Galarraga (DET), Edinson Volquez (CIN)

Yup, we’re going with a 10-man rotation here. There are just way too many pitchers that are throwing entirely too well right now to limit this to five. And for whatever reason, all but one of the above 10 call the American League home.

The NL stinks, let’s face it.

But a few Senior Circuit hurlers just missed making my really crowded overachieving rotation: Aaron Cook (COL), Seth McClung (MIL) and virtually the entire St. Louis Cardinals rotation (seriously, why is that team any good?) Yes, I’m talking to you Kyle Lohse, Braden Looper and Todd Wellemeyer.

In case you’re interested, the AL’s Nick Blackburn (MIN), Shaun Marcum (TOR), Aaron Laffey (CLE) and Oakland pitchers Dana Eveland and Greg Smith just missed making the rotation, as well.

But let’s delve further into the true starting rotation, the “overachieving 10.”

Ryan Dempster: He ranks in the Top 5 in the NL in Wins (9), ERA (2.63), Winning Percentage (.818) and WHIP (1.11). Not to mention his ridiculous opponents batting average (.203), strikeout total (85) and hits-to-innings pitched (76 H in 102.2 IP).

The guy didn’t even START last season. Or the year before that.

2007: 4.73 ERA
2006: 4.80 ERA (nine blown saves)

So how is this guy 9-0 at home?

You got me.

Cliff Lee:
It’s been a good year for Lee. Real good.

He’s been struggling some of late, and he’s STILL on pace for this line: 21-2, 2.45 ERA, 162 K, 31 BB, 1.08 WHIP.

And all signs pointed to this after he had a tidy 6.29 ERA in 20 games (16 starts) last season. Repeat: 6.29 ERA.

He’s always had the talent, but NO pitcher started a season quite like he did this year.

After four starts: 4-0, 0.28 ERA, 31.2 IP, 11 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 29 K
After seven starts: 6-0, 0.67 ERA, 53.2 IP, 32 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 44 K

I’m not a math major, but that’s good.

Joe Saunders: He’s been only average the past few seasons and doesn’t strike anyone out. He has just 49 K in 101 IP and he’s on pace to serve up 25 gopher balls.

So I’ve been waiting for him to start losing this season. It just doesn’t happen. 

He’s on pace for 23 wins (23-6) with an ERA barely above 3.00 (3.03).

Ervin Santana:
I’ve always been a BIG fan/supporter/apologist for this kid. But after what he did last season, it was hard to remain that.

Yeah, you know, the fact that he had 1-10 record with an 8.38 ERA on the road in 14 starts. Not a typo: 1-10, 8.38 ERA. NOT a typo.

He was solid at home, but those road numbers brought his season stats down to 7-14 with a 5.76 ERA. Not good.

NATURALLY, Santana is 6-1 with a 3.10 ERA on the road this season. Of course.

He’s on pace for 19 wins, 191 K and a WHIP barely over 1.00.

THIS is why I always defended him. It’s like he morphed from Ervin to Johan in one year. I just don’t know how.

Justin Duchscherer: Who had THIS guy down for an ERA under 2.00 (1.99) and a WHIP under 1.00 (0.97) this season?

I didn’t. And neither did Justin.

More craziness: Only four HR and 57 H allowed in 77 IP and a .208 BAA. And a 8-4 record.

The 30-year-old had five career starts entering this season, and those came from 2001-2003. And he didn’t play in the bigs in 2002. He has always been a terrific reliever, but what evidence was out there that he could possibly do this as a starter?

None.

Vicente Padilla:
I’m going to keep this simple.

He went 6-10 with a 5.76 ERA last season. No surprise there, it’s Vicente Padilla. We expect that.

We do NOT expect a 10-3 record with a 3.64 ERA from that same guy — at a notorious hitters park, no less.

We are now entering the Twilight Zone.

Gavin Floyd: I’m not positive he belongs here to be honest.

He was the fourth overall pick with the Phillies years ago, so we knew he was loaded with talent.

But he, well, how do I put this…SUCKED for them.

In 24 games (19 starts) with Philly from 2004-2006, he had a 6.96 ERA.

Last year with the White Sox, he had a 5.27 ERA in 70 IP.

Different pitcher this season: 8-3, 3.19 ERA and an amazing 66 hits allowed in 90.1 IP. The guy has almost thrown TWO no-hitters this season. He fell short in the 8th in one and in the 9th in the other, but he has displayed the nasty stuff that made the 4th overall pick.

So maybe he doesn’t belong here. But what I do know is, most people were skeptical he would ever find “it” and be anything more than a 5th starter for the White Sox. He’s been much more than that this season.

John Danks: See Above.

Danks was a pretty highly regarded prospect in his own right — not quite at the Floyd level — but he was AWFUL last season as a rookie.

He went 6-13, had a 5.50 ERA and allowed a putrid 214 baserunners (28 homers) in 139 IP.

So it only makes sense that he ranks fourth in the AL with his 2.80 ERA. And of course he’s on pace to allow just 12 homers and has a WHIP that ranks just outside the Top 10 in the AL.

He only has four wins to show for all this (4-4), but that’s no fault of his own. Chicago is simply not hitting for him.

Armando Galarraga: Man, why aren’t people talking about this kid right now?

He’s allowed 47 hits in 71.1 innings pitched! That’s good for a WHIP of 1.07 and a BAA of .184. Incredible.

He is 7-2 with a 3.03 ERA in 11 starts. A 26-year-old rookie is NOT supposed to be doing this.

Edinson Volquez:
This is simple.

Click HERE.

Then HERE.