Players look at the MLB All Star game in different ways. Some welcome the time off, bypassing it even though they've been selected while others play, striving to win the game as home field advantage is at stake for the World Series.
Under the new bargaining agreement, a player can elect to not play if injured or if he provides an excuse. Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers
Josh Hamilton set an All Star record with 11 million votes, and he is likely to be named the MVP shall his team pull off the victory. This can partially be credited to the game earlier in the season in which he hit 4 home runs. Hamilton is an attention getter. Does anyone remember the home run contest at the old Yankee Stadium in which Hamilton was hitting balls farther than anybody had ever seen them hit in the Bronx.
Six other Texas Rangers
made the team as well. The Rangers have a lot to play for in this game as they may very well end up to playing in the World Series. Another would-be series participant, the New York Yankees, landed three spots the game, led, naturally, by "The Captain," Derek Jeter, who continues to prove why he's a first ballot hall of famer.LaRussa's revenge?
Let's look at the other side of the spectrum. Of course, when a player has a great season, an all star appearance is both gratifying and looks good on the resume. But, two Cincinnati Reds players having great seasons, Brandon Phillips and pitcher Johnny Cueto, were slighted. There are those who think that this is due to a bench clearing brawl between the Reds and Cardinals in 2010. A case can be made for snubbing Phillips, as each team needs a player to represent themselves, but Johnny Cueto not making the All Star team is an outright travesty.
On the season, Cueto is 9-5 with a 2.35 ERA for a contending Reds club. Obviously, he deserves the nod, but LaRussa isn't Cardinals manager anymore and has little to lose
Zack Greinke: It's expected that, without Prince Fielder
, the Milwaukee Brewers wouldn't be as good this season as last, but leaving Greinke off the team is wrong. Greinke is 9-2 with a 2.82 ERA and 102 strikeouts - and this on a sub par team.
Edwin Encarnacion: Jose Bautista has taken his time warming up this year, but Toronto Blue Jay Edwin Encarnacion has been a model of consistency all season. On the year, Encarnacion is batting .296 with 22 HR, 54 RBI and 8 SB. I mean, really, what does this guy have to do to make the team? Of course, not being in a major media market doesn't help his cause
Josh Reddick: On an otherwise anemic offensive team like the Oakland Athletics, outfielder Josh Reddick has emerged on the scene and given this team a big boost. Reddick is hitting a healthy .262 with 19 HR, 41 RBI and 8 SB. Furthermore, Reddick has come up with some clutch hits and definitely deserves at least a reserve role on the AL All Star squad.
Albert Pujols: I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but baseball needs Albert Pujols. After signing a huge contract with the Angels, Pujols got off to one of the worst starts one will ever see a superstar have. Recently, however, he's started the recovery process. Pujols is batting .270 with 13 HR and 49 RBI. I've seen superstars have poor starts and still be elected to the All Star Game before. This should be a no-brainer.
Johan Santana: Santana has never been very lucky when it comes to run support from the Mets, and this year is no different. Santana is 6-5 with a 3.24 ERA. He got shelled by the Chicago Cubs on July 6th, but this was after the voting was final. It doesn't change the fact that this season Santana pitched the Mets only no-hitter in their 50 year history.
Austin Jackson: The Detroit Tigers have had a disappointing season so far, but this hasn't stopped their centerfielder from succeeding. He's currently riding a 13-game hitting streak and batting .329 with 9 HR and 37 RBI. Jackson did have an earlier trip on the DL, though, and that might have cost him
Bryce Harper: I'll give the 19-year old a mention as it could have gone either way for him. Nevertheless, the future looks very bright indeed for this future superstar.
James McDonald: The Pirates are finally starting to show how good they are depsite a low payroll. Pitcher James McDonald sports a 2.45 ERA
, a data point few All Stars can match and still didn't make the team. Maybe it's a low profile player situation, but it still stinks.Not the "Wright" choice
New York Mets third baseman David Wright was snubbed when his starting spot on the NL squad went instead to Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants. Wright is having an MVP-caliber season, batting .353, hitting 11 HR, 59 RBI, and stealing 8 bases on a much improved Mets team
. Sandoval is hitting .314 with 7 HR and 28 RBI. This isn't even close and it just shows that the All Star game is a popularity contest.What to expect
This will still be a hotly-contested game as home field advantage for the World Series is on the line. As represenatives of both their team and the sport, vets like Derek Jeter take the game very seriously. The added incentive of home field doesn't hurt the Rangers players or the nominated Yankees either.