The best part of any all-star game is the selection of the all-stars, because as we know, everything after that is pretty well pointless. The games are overproduced nonsense, a walking ad for the industry with as little actual watchable entertainment.
And then there’s the Pro Bowl, which is now a crime to export outside U.S. borders or territorial waters.
But now? Now is good. Now is also when the teams start flogging their players as the magnificent exemplars and specimens they are, and use the time-honored North Korean method of balloting to get those marketing points across.
All of which you already know, of course, but you get suckered in anyway because you need your team to be over-represented. It’s in your DNA. You can’t help yourselves.
And now, with both the Athletics and Giants atop their respective heaps, you doubtless think your sides are going to be deeply rewarded for their work, and you are, of course wrong.
Barring some serious electoral fraud, the A’s will get third baseman Josh Donaldson and pitcher Sonny Gray, while the Giants will probably get Buster Posey (though his year hasn’t merited it) and Tim Hudson (whose year very much does). After that, though, it gets dodgy – because, frankly, it’s supposed to be that way.
First, let’s consider the American League’s likeliest candidates, and keeping in mind that every team must be represented:
CATCHER: MATT WIETERS, Bal (voting leader), Yan Gomes, Cle; Salvador Perez, KC. A’s: Nobody.
FIRST BASE: MIGUEL CABRERA, Det; Edwin Encarnacion, Tor. A’s: Brandon Moss as an outsider.
SECOND BASE: ROBINSON CANO, Sea; Ian Kinsler, Det; Bryan Dozier, Min. A’s: No.
SHORTSTOP: DEREK JETER, NY; Alexei Ramirez, Chi. A’s: Jed Lowrie, as a maybe.
THIRD BASE: DONALDSON; Adrian Beltre, Tex; Evan Longoria, TB.
[RELATED: Donaldson extends lead in AL All-Star voting]
OUTFIELD: MIKE TROUT, LA; NELSON CRUZ, Tex; JOSE BAUTISTA, Tor; Alex Gordon, KC; Mickey Brantley, Cle; Shin-Soo Choo, Tex; Melky Cabrera, Tor. A’s: Yoenis Cespedes, homers but not much else.
DESIGNATED HITTER: David Ortiz, Bos. A’s: Unlikely.
PITCHERS: GRAY; Yu Darvish, Tex; Masahiro Tanaka, NY; Max Scherzer, Det; Felix Hernandez, Sea; Dallas Keuchel, Hou; Mark Buehrle, Tor; Garrett Richards, LA; Chris Sale, Chi; Greg Holland, KC; Glen Perkins, Min; Koji Uehara, Bos; Joakim Soria, Tex. A’s: Sean Doolittle or Drew Pomeranz, though Pomeranz hasn’t pitched enough yet.
Now the National:
CATCHER: YADIER MOLINA, StL; Jonathan Lucroy, Mil. GIANTS: Posey, though his season has not exactly sparkled.
FIRST BASE: ADRIAN GONZALEZ, LA; Justin Morneau, Col; Adam LaRoche, Was; Paul Goldschmidt, AZ. GIANTS: Brandon Belt is injured.
SECOND BASE: CHASE Utley, PhI; Daniel Murphy, NY. GIANTS: No.
SHORTSTOP: TROY TULOWITZKI, Col; Starlin Castro, Chi; Hanley Ramirez, LA. GIANTS: Brandon Crawford is not yet a household-y enough name.
THIRD BASE: NOLAN ARENADO, Col; David Wright, NY; Todd Frazier, Cin. GIANTS: Pablo Sandoval waited too long to be Pablo Sandoval.
OUTFIELDER: ANDREW MCCUTCHEN, Pit; RYAN BRAUN, Mil; CHARLIE BLACKMON, Col; Yasiel Puig, LA; Carlos Gomez, Mil; Giancarlo Stanton, Mai; Justin Upton, Atl; A.J. Pollock, Col. GIANTS: Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence are both qualified, but in a crowded field.
DESIGNATED HITTER: Whoever can’t be fit into the outfield.
PITCHER: HUDSON; Adam Wainwright, StL; Jeff Samardzija, Chi; Julio Teheran, Atl; Johnny Cueto, Cin; Andrew Cashner, SD; Huston Street, Col; Craig Kimbrel, Atl; Steve Cishek, Mia; Zack Greinke, LA; Rafael Soriano, Was. GIANTS: Jean Machi, though setup men don’t usually get a lot of run unless their managers are the ones making the choices.
In short, what you have here is a tough slog for your favorite players, and reason enough to get into loud and obnoxious arguments at your favorite taverns. The Bay Area may be where baseball starts this year, and it may even be where it ends, but in the middle . . . well, let’s just say the two teams are doing it more as a collective, which never works when you’re trying to do something as trivial as all-star trolling.