Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Of National Importance
This is really starting to get old. The National League has not won an All-Star game in the last 13 years, and it is high time they at least cause a brief hiccup in the American League's domination. No better time than the present I say. The National League has some of the most dominant starting pitching in all of baseball at their disposal, and the A.L. is a bit weak in the pitching department compared to prior years. That said, if the National League is to win, they have to hit the ball. Something that they have failed to do in years past.
Though it was forever ago, I can still remember when the A.L. started this magnificent All-Star game winning streak they have been on for the last 13 years. It was 1997 and I was dreading my family's imminent move to Boston from Philadelphia. Coming off of the 1996 All-Star victory at Veteran's Stadium, I thought the N.L., led by studs Jeff Blauser, Ken Caminiti and Rod Beck, was set to start a streak of their own, but Sandy Alomar Jr.'s two-run jack in the 7th inning keyed the A.L. victory. Since then it has been all downhill.
Since the victory in 1996, the N.L. All-Stars have averaged a paltry 3.7 runs per game in their 12 losses and 1 tie. Moreover, they have also given up runs late in games to lose several of these contests. In order to win this year, the N.L. has to pile on the runs and shut down the A.L. late in the game. Unfortunately, with this year's roster I don't see either happening.
Heath Bell, Arthur Rhodes, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Capps and Brian "B-Weezy" Wilson. Do these names inspire fear in the hearts of guys like A-Rod, Big Poopi, Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter? Unlikely. If the N.L. has a lead late in the game, the outcome will likely come down to matchups between these pitchers and hitters. If that is the case, you can chalk up another win for the A.L.; especially when they have Mo Rivera to slam the door in any save situation. The N.L. might be better off to use some of their electric starters in closing situations rather than the lineup of scrubs listed previously.
The hitting also has to be there for the N.L. if they want to win this game and gain home-field advantage in the World Series. As we have seen in the past, a one run lead is not safe enough against the A.L., the N.L. has got to pile on the runs early and often and win this thing in a runaway. That means guys like Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, Ryan Howard and Hanley Ramirez have to do some serious work. I'm talking home runs and multiple RBIs. At first I liked their chances against the young pitching of the A.L., but several key late additions to the A.L. staff made me change my mind. Justin Verlander and Andy Pettitte will provide a huge veteran presence to the A.L. staff and will probably keep the National Leaguers frustrated for another year. The only way the N.L. wins is in blowout fashion in my mind.
Unfortunately, I like the A.L. to keep the N.L. winless for the 14th straight year. Their hitting is too clutch, and their pitching was buoyed by some solid late additions. In typical fashion the N.L. just does not have the bullpen or the hitting to compete, and I foresee another heart wrenching loss. I will be rooting for the N.L. and hoping the TPLIYP curse holds true yet again. I gotta pick something right one of these days though.