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A Real Fans’ Guide to Watching The All-Star Game

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If you’re a real baseball fan, I’m sorry, but the All-Star Game isn’t designed to entertain you. It might entertain you anyway, but the game is for the casual fan. It’s announced by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. They will interview celebrities. They will talk during the entire game about baseball stories that you are already well versed in. Go ahead and count the number of times they talk about a Yankee who isn’t playing in the game. It will be more than 5, I promised. They’re also going to get a lot of facts wrong about players because they aren’t equipped to handle preparation on 70 players and the season they are having.

“Brett Cecil? Who’s that?! Some guy from Canada, I think. He’s a reliever who doesn’t pitch the 9th inning and he’s in the ASG? What?” is something I would expect to hear Joe Buck say around 9:50pm tonight. You can also expect to hear something about the great seasons Matt Moore and Chris Tillman are having because they are 13-3 and 11-3, respectively. In case you’re wondering, they’re 13th and 22nd in ERA and 16th and 38th in FIP just among qualifying AL starters, but Buck and McCarver don’t know that because they only watch baseball when they are paid to broadcast it.

Basically, if you want to listen to thoughtful baseball analysis that includes accurate commentary on the first half, or simply about the game in front of you, that isn’t an option tonight. Tonight is about Fox pumping up their fall shows and their new 24 hour sports network, Fox Sports 1.

You also won’t see the game’s best players because some didn’t get picked because players and managers don’t look at the right statistics or because some of the game’s elite players didn’t have excellent first halves. The game should either be a showcase of great first halves or of the game’s biggest stars, and whichever side you prefer, tonight will be lacking for you if you actually know stuff about baseball.

So I’m sorry, this is how it is. But you can still have fun because it’s baseball. Here are five key steps:

1. Tune Out The Announcers

This is the simplest and more important of all my tips. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver have nothing important or interesting to say. The only reason to listen to them is if you’re planning to mock them on Twitter or if someone has invaded the press box and no one is live tweeting it. You’ll enjoy the game a lot more if you don’t hear the announcers say stupid things about baseball.

2. Keep MLB At Bat Open

I can’t stress this enough. Fox will not tell you when players are replaced if they’re on defense and they won’t tell you where they are now hitting in the batting order. Last year, there were about 5 changes one inning and they told you about one of them before just giving up and going back to talking about Josh Hamilton’s impending free agency. If you actually want to know who is playing in the game, it is your responsibility to stay on top of it.

3. Use Twitter

Just because Fox doesn’t care about the real fan doesn’t mean baseball writers and fans on Twitter don’t. If you want to see interesting stats or real commentary, jump on Twitter and follow along. It will be much better.

4. Do Your Homework

The key here is to familiarize yourself with pitchers who you haven’t had a chance to see with your own eyes very much. You know who Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw are and you’ve seen them throw 100 times because you, the real fan, enjoy beauty. However, you may not have had a chance to watch many Patrick Corbin starts. Head over to Brooks Baseball and pull up each pitcher’s repertoire so that you know if you should be looking for a breaking ball or high heat on the 1-2 pitch you’re about to see.

5. Focus On The Matchups

The All-Star Game can’t really be thought of as a real game, even though “it counts.” Players only play a few innings, starters go one or two innings, and managers make changes based on show. That’s fine, because it’s really an exhibition. But for the die-hard baseball fan who just needs to be watching baseball in order to properly live, it’s not the best offering because it’s not a real game. For you, focus on the matchups. You’re going to get to watch Matt Harvey face Trout, Cano, and Cabrera all in a row. Then it’s going to be Kershaw and against 3 more great hitters. You’re usually scouring MLB.TV to watch Sale versus Harper, but on this night, MLB is bringing every matchup to you. Appreciate the ease with which you’ll be able to watch these pitchers go after the hitters.

So as you sit down to watch tonight, remember that this game isn’t designed for the real baseball fan. This is a game that caters to people who think baseball is boring.

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The coverage is going to be bad and the game won’t look anything like a matchup between two real baseball teams, but you’re going to watch because you can’t not watch baseball and you want to cheer for your team’s players and your league. These steps should help, but if they don’t just remember there will be real baseball tomorrow…Thursday…oh man…Friday?! Really? You’re on your own everyone.

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Picking the National League All-Stars

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

With the All-Star rosters looming ahead this weekend, New English D weighs into the fray with these picks. We covered the AL yesterday. A few notes up front. First, I’ve conformed the roster size to the official requirements and have selected starters I feel are most deserving based on their 2013 seasons and have given no deference to the voting up through this point. My view is that the All-Star Game should showcase the game’s standout performers from the first half of 2013, not the best players over the last year or the best players by talent even if they haven’t performed. I think the game should highlight the players who play well, not the players MLB thinks are “marketable.” Every team is represented and I’ve given a list of players who are the first replacements for injuries and such. As you know, this site appreciates advanced statistics, so should you choose to comment on these selections, please do so without using “RBI” or “Wins.” Finally, I watch a ton of baseball, but I watch fewer NL games by function of being a Tigers fan, so some of the down ballot selections are a bit less sure footed.

And I just couldn’t leave Puig out. He has to play in this game.

PLAYER TEAM POSITION
Yadier Molina Cardinals C
Joey Votto Reds 1B
Matt Carpenter Cardinals 2B
Jean Segura Brewers SS
David Wright Mets 3B
Carlos Gomez Brewers OF
Andrew McCutchen Pirates OF
Carlos Gonzalez Rockies OF
Buster Posey Giants DH
Matt Harvey Mets SP
Russell Martin Pirates C
Paul Goldschmidt Dbacks 1B
Allen Craig Cardinals 1B
Chase Utley Phillies 2B
Ian Desmond Nationals SS
Pedro Alvarez Pirates 3B
Starling Marte Pirates OF
Bryce Harper Nationals OF
Shin Soo Choo Reds OF
Yasiel Puig Dodgers OF
Michael Cuddyer Rockies OF
Todd Frazier Reds 3B
Adam Wainwright Cardinals SP
Cliff Lee Phillies SP
Clayton Kershaw Dodgers SP
Homer Bailey Reds SP
Mat Latos Reds SP
Jeff Samardzija Cubs SP
Jordan Zimmermann Nationals SP
Jose Fernandez Marlins SP
Craig Kimbrel Braves RP
Sergio Romo Giants RP
Mark Melancon Pirates RP
Jason Grilli Pirates RP
Ryan Braun* Brewers OF
Troy Tulowitzki* Rockies SS
Evereth Cabrera* Padres SS
FIRST REPLACEMENTS
Jhoulys Chacin Rockies SP
Patrick Corbin Dbacks SP
Shelby Miller Cardinals SP
Stephen Strasburg Nationals SP
Chris Johnson Braves 3B
Carlos Beltran Cardinals OF
Dominic Brown Phillies OF
* INJURED

Picking the American League All-Stars

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

With the All-Star rosters looming ahead this weekend, New English D weighs into the fray with these picks. We’ll cover the NL tomorrow. A few notes up front. First, I’ve conformed the roster size to the official requirements and have selected starters I feel are most deserving based on their 2013 seasons and have given no deference to the voting up through this point. My view is that the All-Star Game should showcase the game’s standout performers from the first half of 2013, not the best players over the last year or the best players by talent even if they haven’t performed. I think the game should highlight the players who play well, not the players MLB thinks are “marketable.” Every team is represented and I’ve given a list of players who are the first replacements for injuries and such. Clay Buchholz would have been selected, as noted, but is currently injured. As you know, this site appreciates advanced statistics, so should you choose to comment on these selections, please do so without using “RBI” or “Wins.”

Enjoy and feel free to criticize the 7 Tigers I put on the list. I can’t make a case that they aren’t deserving, even if you think I’m a homer.

PLAYER TEAM POSITION
Joe Mauer Twins C
Chris Davis Orioles 1B
Jason Kipnis Indians 2B
Jhonny Peralta Tigers SS
Miguel Cabrera Tigers 3B
Mike Trout Angels OF
Jose Bautista Jays OF
Jacoby Ellsbury Red Sox OF
David Ortiz Red Sox DH
Max Scherzer Tigers SP
Carlos Santana Indians C
Edwin Encarnacion Jays 1B
Dustin Pedroia Red Sox 2B
Robinson Cano Yankees 2B
Jed Lowrie Athletics SS
Evan Longoria Rays 3B
Manny Machado Orioles 3B
Josh Donaldson Athletics 3B
Nate McClouth Orioles OF
Alex Gordon Royals OF
Brett Gardner Yankees OF
Adam Lind Jays DH
Derek Holland Rangers SP
Felix Hernandez Mariners SP
Chris Sale White Sox SP
Justin Verlander Tigers SP
Yu Darvish Rangers SP
Anibal Sanchez Tigers SP
Doug Fister Tigers SP
Bud Norris Astros SP
Brett Cecil Jays RP
Mariano Rivera Yankees RP
Drew Smyly Tigers RP
Jesse Crain White Sox RP
Clay Buchholz* Red Sox SP
FIRST REPLACEMENTS
Kyle Seager Mariners 3B
Omar Infante Tigers 2B
Howie Kendrick Angels 2B
Adrian Beltre Rangers 3B
Hisashi Iwakuma Mariners SP
Joaquin Benoit Tigers RP
Joe Nathan Rangers RP
* injured

The Morning Edition (June 4, 2013)

Clip art illustration of a Cartoon Tiger with a Missing Tooth

 

From Last Night:

  • Molina and Beltran homer to back Lynn against the Snakes
  • Medlen shines as Burnett stumbles
  • Arroyo goes 8 scoreless to beat the Rox
  • Kendrick hits a 3B and goes the distance to beat the Fish

What I’m Watching Today:

  • Zimmermann faces the Mets in DC (7p Eastern)
  • Moore and Sanchez in Detroit (7p Eastern)
  • Skaggs and Wacha make prospect hounds drool in STL (8p Eastern)
  • Peavy and Felix out west (10p Eastern)

The Big Question:

  • What should the All-Star Game be?

Someone on Twitter asked Keith Law if Matt Carpenter should be an All-Star, which Law disagreed with because

I’m curious what other people think, but I like when the All-Star game features a mix of star players and lesser known guys having good opening months. I understand his argument is that MLB wants to showcase the stars to expand the popularity of the sport, but I think national media events should be a time for the sport to turn its unsung players into stars. I don’t like when ESPN and Fox only talk about Jeter and Sabathia and Big Papi. National forums should be a chance to put guys like Matt Carpenter (2.5 WAR) and Josh Donaldson (2.6 WAR) on display. “Hey look, here are some guys you might not get a chance to see a lot who are playing great!” I like that aspect of it. The game will have Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey, but I think it should also have the unknowns because it should be a game for die hard fans as well as casual fans who often use the word “boring” to describe baseball.

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