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MLB All-Star Game

The Real National League All-Stars

Earlier in the week, BockerKnocker went over our latest MAMBINO rant on the All-Star game. Over the years, the rosters have expanded to a mind-numbing 34 players even though an actual, functional MLB roster will only have 25 men per squad.

But 34 is just where it begins – after injuries and “respectful” declines towards selections thin the ranks, the “outrageous snubs” that everyone seems to rail about almost inevitably get rectified. In a game that’s already a glorified exhibition, the spirit of competition has becomed more watered down than a cold Natural Ice with All-Star berths mandatorily given to teams that certainly don’t deserve it and second-tier players.

This is where we’ve come in. My blog brother already selected his 25 American Leaguers that truly belong on the field on Tuesday. Here are my National League selections, assembled as if I were putting together a…real baseball team.

C: Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies

By any metric the Philadelphia Phillies are underachieving at the halfway point this year. Though the entire internet, including our own Pucklius, knew their offense wouldn’t be as prolific as in seasons past without aging slugger Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, no one knew the pitching would be quite so terrible. However, one of the bright spots for a surprsingly mediocre Phils squad is the ever-dependable Chooch.

Ruiz is well on his way to annhilating career-highs in nearly every offensive category, including rolling an incincerating 1.015 OPS, 13 homers and 46 RBIs at the half (he’s topped out at .847, 9 and 54). Buster Posey, the fan’s vote selection, is a fine, fine player who’s having a great year and commanding a dominant San Francisco staff, but what Chooch is doing with the bat this year has to be rewarded. The Philly rotation isn’t destroying all comers like everyone’s come to expect, but I’ll go ahead and rely on the past few years of performances when picking my NL catcher. 

1B: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

Canada’s favorite $200 million dollar athlete (are there any others?) is also their best on the baseball diamond. Just months after the Reds gave Votto a bank-breaking $225 million dollar deal to stay in the confines of small-town Ohio, their first baseman has rightfully gotten voted in to this game. he’s batting right in the middle of my order, with his bonkers .619 slugging percentage and 48 (!) extra-base hits belong. What a stud.

2B: Aaron Hill, Arizona

Dan Uggla was selected by the fans in this spot in complete error. Yes, those 11 jacks and 43 RBIs look really nice, but that .223 batting average and 98 strikeouts is just as aesthetically displeasing as the second baseman’s last name.

Aaron Hill is the right choice here. He’s rounded back into form he flashed on the Blue Jays in Toronto several seasons ago, hitting near .300, and a .864 OPS with 36 extra base hits. On the whole, he’s just a much more efficient player than the wallop or whiff outcome that is Dan Uggla. Also, not that fielding is a huge criteria for an All-Star berth, Hill is just a much better gloveman than his Atlantan counterpart (9 errors to Hill’s 4). Finally, the guy hit for the cycle twice in a week. That’s gotta count for something.

3B: David Wright, New York Mets

In a decision that rendered our own Pucklius apoplectic, David Wright was SNUBBED by the fans in favor of the Pablo “He’s Still Fat No Matter What Anyone Says” Sandoval. Also, I got t… Read more...

The Real American League All-Stars

In 1927, the Academy for Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated three films for Best Picture. Through the years, the number of nominees has fluctuated, reaching a high of twelve in 1935. Today, the Academy nominates 10 movies to contend for one of entertainment’s most important awards.

During most of this generation’s existence, we dealt with 5 nominees, leaving us room to figure out what films were truly snubbed. (And by “we,” I mean film losers historians like Pucklius and TuckRule.) When the field was expanded to 10, the definition of “snub” was changed. If you can’t make the top 10 movies of one itty bitty calendar year, then stop complaining. I’m lucky if I can get my butt to watch 5 movies, total, in the theater per year, so I don’t care about the 11th and 12th best movie.

And so goes the definition of “snub” regarding the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. There are thirty-friggin-four players selected for each league’s All-Star team. Each professional roster, however, still clings to a 25-man roster. So baseball has decided to reward 18 extra total dudes with the distinction of being an All-Star. Wonderful.

KOBEsh and I have taken it upon ourselves to create the MAMBINO MLB All-Stars, comprised of 25-man rosters for each league. These rosters represent the true All-Stars in both the American and National Leagues. Normally, we’d rage against the machine about what the fans got wrong with the starters and what the coaches/players did wrong in selecting the reserves. This edition of Mambino All-Stars will include that, plus this little wrinkle of truncating each roster by at least 9 players (it’s likely to be more than 9, since everybody and their mother bows out due to injury or due to the fact that they pitched the previous day. More horsecrap, but I digress.) The rosters are filled out with the express goal of putting the best team forward. This means lefty specialists in the bullpen, utility infielders, and more!

Don’t get me started on the other terrible rules concerning the MLB All-Star game. Since that wretched tie in 2002, it seems like Selig and his cronies have panicked, making the Midsummer Classic the most unrepresentative game of a league’s best and brightest since Super Lawyers decided not to include me (again).

Catcher: Joe Mauer (starter), A.J. Pierzynski

Mauer has encountered a lot of grief after signing a mammoth nine-figure deal way back when, but compared to his backstop brethren, he still brings the goods. He leads all major league catchers in hits and runs, and is tops among AL catchers in batting average and on-base percentage. Last month, the Mauer line was very face-of-the-franchise-esque, piling up a triple slash of .397/.438/.538 and driving in 15 runs with that joke of a Twins lineup to help him. His picture-perfect swing is almost as glorious as his Minnesota hair:

Pierzynski is right there, having clubbed 14 dingers and hitting at an overall .285 clip. Across the board, his numbers are mostly better than young Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters, so he gets the nod to carry Mauer’s gear. Wieters can be called up to warm up the bullpen guys if need be.

First Base: Edwin Encarnacion (s), Prince Fielder

It is an absolute travesty that Encarnacion didn’t even come close to garnering any All-Star consideration from the fans this year. What’s that? He plays for Toronto? Got it.

Encarnacion has had a relatively non-descript career, but he has produced numbers in bunches thi… Read more...

Who Starts the All-Star Game for the National League? Dickey or Cain?

I’m not surprised that the sporting world is having an argument over who should start the MLB All-Star game for the National League. Every year can’t have an automatic answer like a dominant Roy Halladay or a war horse-like half season from Justin Verlander. I’m not even surprised that Matt Cain is a part of the conversation, considering his video game statistics and the accompanying hype provided by the perfect game he threw just weeks ago.

What I am surprised about is that the opposing part of the argument for NL All-Star starter is…R.A. Dickey.

Yes, Mambinities. R.A. Dickey, who spent his 2002 and 2007 seasons out of baseball because he wasn’t good enough to make any team, is a probable All-Star. R.A. Dickey, who in 2006 as a 31 year-old, transitioned to a full-time knuckle-ball pitcher, is not only a probable All-Star, but considering starting material. R.A. Dickey, who at age 37 is having his most dominant season ever, is a potential All-Star starter and Cy Young candidate. Yes folks, that R.A. Dickey.

Unbelievably, just three years after finishing the season with Minnesota with a 5.21 ERA and walking nearly as many batters as he struck out, R.A. Dickey is favored by many, including our own Pucklius, as the presumptive National League All-Star Starter.

However, he’s not without his detractors. An e-mail debate began to stir today with the assertion that yes, the Mets ace was more deserving of throwing the NL’s first pitch than Cain.

At first thought, this is simply ludicrous. How could Dickey be more qualified than the guy who threw a perfect game? Let’s look at the tale of the tape:

R.A. Dickey: 15 starts (13 quality starts, 3 complete games), 11-1, 106 Ks, 72 Hits, 24 Walks, 2.31 ERA, 0.91 WHIP

Matt Cain: 15 starts (11 QS, 2 CG), 9-2, 107 Ks, 74 Hits, 22 Walks, 2.27 ERA, 0.90 WHIP
Well, that wasn’ helpful. Their statistics are stunningly similar in nearly every way, except for the obvious win-loss record (which is itself a pretty superfluous statistic). Both have their pros and cons, and with each of them having approximately three starts left until July 17th, there’s a lot left to be decided. So let’s turn to the experts. 
But obviously they were busy, so we here at MAMBINO HQ decided to tackle the issue. I’ll be taking the side of Cain, which shakes my Dodger Blue bones to their marrow, and Pucklius will be trumpeting his very own Dickey from Queens. Let’s see if either of us can swing each other.
KOBEsh: The numbers between the two really aren’t helping to create any separation between these two guys. Out of all the arguments, which are you looking at as the strongest in Dickey’s favor?

Pucklius: You’re right in that it’s hard to go wrong, but I think you’ve got to look at his quality starts and complete games in addition to the sheer dominance he displayed over the six or so starts prior to Sunday’s game against the Yankees. The rest of the stat line between the two is almost completely identical, but Dickey leads both in quality starts and complete games, which perhaps more than anything might be a sign of consistently putting your team in position to win games. Granted, the differences in those categories are slight — perhaps even negligible — but I do think those combined with his ERA and WHIP are crucial. Cain’s numbers are also stellar, but the flukiness of a perfect game — and yes, while they are tremendous accomplishments they are flukes — dramatically impacts his ERA and WHIP … Read more...