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MLB All-Star Game Snubs: National League

The fans really nailed the NL starters for the All-Star Game. I only had one complaint with the fan vote, so they must be commended for getting it right. All my other complaints are really nit-picking because the NL All-Star team was well selected. Manager Bruce Bochy was too much of a homer and included a few too many Giants pitchers, so that’s the only other issue I really have. Here are the NL All-Star team snubs (written as the player who should have made it over the one who did):

Aramis Ramirez over Placido Polanco, Chipper Jones at 3B

Fans got all the starters right except for Placido Polanco at third base. There was no real standout at the position this year but Ramirez is having the best year of all NL third basemen. He should have been the starter over Polanco and the backup over Chipper Jones. It should have gone Aramis and then either Chipper or Chase Headley as the backup.

Andrew McCutchen over Jay Bruce in OF

McCutchen misses out on his second straight All-Star game in favor of a Pirates reliever. He deserved to go last year over Evan Meek and deserves to go this year. Bruce had a major power surge in May that captured everyone’s attention but h’s cooled off since then. McCutchen, with his 12 home runs and 15 stolen bases, has been the better overall player.

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Heath Bell Sacrifices Chicken to Break Padres Losing Streak

In a 162 game season, the potential for things to go wrong in baseball is great. Even for a team winning its division, things haven’t gone perfectly for the San Diego Padres.

The Pads just snapped a 10-game losing streak with a win over the Dodgers on Monday night. Sick of losing for a week and a half straight, the team went to great lengths to change their luck. They didn’t try on red thongs or gold underwear, but they did pull a Chase Utley and do some voodoo. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Stealing from the movie “Major League,” before Sunday’s game against Colorado, Heath Bell asked a clubhouse attendant to bring in a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken to be sacrificed.

Even if it didn’t lead to a turnaround on Sunday, the Padres figured things out a day later beating the Dodgers 4-2. Maybe they needed to give it a few hours before the chicken reached the baseball gods in heaven. Bell of course was there to close out the win for his 38th save. He has the look of Rube Baker, the personality of Rick Vaughn, and the smarts of Jake Taylor. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Sources:
Padres’ losing streak hits double digits [Union-Tribune]

Heath Bell Complains ESPN Goes Overboard with Yankees, Red Sox, Mets

And I agree. On Monday I wanted to see highlights of Orlando Hudson hitting for the cycle for the Dodgers. Considering how tough it is to accomplish that feat at anytime and the fact that he was practically the first Dodger since Brooklyn to accomplish the trick, you figure it would get some good attention. And because it was the Dodgers’ home opener and a day game, I didn’t get to see it live but figured I would catch the hits on a a highlight show. Naturally I watched both SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight to get my fix, figuring I would only need to wait a few minutes to catch the highlights — a player hitting for the cycle usually is at the top of the list when it comes to day-to-day activities in MLB. I was wrong. Thoroughly. Hudson’s cycle got buried halfway through each show. Why you ask? ESPN was too busy slurping the Mets for the opening of Citi Field. That not only upset me, it also pissed off Padres closer Heath Bell something good when he spoke prior to Monday’s game:

“I saw John Kruk on ‘Baseball Tonight,’ and he said, ‘[the Padres are] playing real well, but I don’t believe in them,’ ” Bell said before Monday’s game. “And I saw ESPN’s promo for tonight’s game. They mention the Mets are opening Citi Field, they mentioned the starting time, but nowhere did they mention the Padres. That gave me the (expletive).”

Bell was just getting warmed up in his pregame commentary.

“I truly believe ESPN only cares about promoting the Red Sox and Yankees and Mets – and nobody else,” said the closer, a former Met. “That’s why I like the MLB Network, because they promote everybody. I’m really turned off by ESPN and ‘Baseball Tonight.’ When Jake Peavy threw 8 1/3 innings on Saturday, they showed one pitch in the third inning and that was it. It’s all about the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets.”

The beginning of the season, if not any other time, is when you should be the most open-minded about showing highlights equally. Since it’s a fresh year, anything goes — expectations are out the window and so is last year’s performances. If Aaron Harang throws a three-hit shutout for the Reds against the Pirates and it’s the best pitching performance of the season thus far, you should place more prominence on those highlights. Instead, how the Yankees, Mets, or Red Sox fared, good or bad, always seems to come first. It really is a big turnoff and I might have to start joining Bell at MLB Network, too.