All Star

Baseball has some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in all of sports, but for some reason, when the fans have the chance to select the starters for the mid-summer classic, they have the tendency to pick with their hearts instead of their brains. As much as I like players like Jason Varitek and Ken Griffey Jr., they are not deserving of an All Star nod. With the All Star selections being announced at 2:00 p.m. today, I’m going to jump the gun and give you the players that have truly played like an All Star during the first half of the season.

Although I’d like to make the team entirely of Red Sox players, I’m going to try to be as impartial as possible, which means there may be a Ray or a Yankee on the team. Ugh!

American League

Catcher: Joe Mauer
Pencil him in for the next ten years.

First Base: Justin Morneau
This was a close race between Youkilis and Morneau. Both players have similar numbers. I just think Morneau is better.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
This guy is a great hitter and an under-appreciated defender. His defense gives him a slight edge over Ian Kinsler.

Third base: Alex Rodriguez
After a controversial week in the tabloids, this selection should soothe the Material Girl’s pain.

Shortstop: Michael Young
Sorry, Jeter. I know that this is the last year in Yankee Stadium, but Young is better than you.

Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Quinton
There have been some great performances by AL outfielders during the first half of the season. These three have been the best.

Designated Hitter: Milton Bradley
Even with one arm, I think Big Papi should be the DH. But I’m afraid that Bradley will hunt me down and beat me to a pulp if he’s not picked.

Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee
11-1, 2.26 ERA. Lee has been the biggest pitching surprise in the league.

Reserves:
Dioner Navarro C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Ian Kinsler 2B
Brian Roberts 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
Derek Jeter SS
B.J. Upton OF
Nick Markakis OF
Ichiro Suzuki OF
J.D. Drew OF
Roy Halladay SP
Ervin Santana SP
James Shields SP
Justin Duchscherer SP
Joe Saunders SP
Gavin Floyd SP
Jon Lester SP
Jonathan Papelbon RP
Francisco Rodriguez RP
Mariano Rivera RP

National League

Catcher: Russell Martin
Martin is in a class by himself. Easily the best catcher in baseball.

First Base: Lance Berkman
After an amazing first half, Berkman is the NL MVP.

Second Base: Chase Utley
24 ding-dongs on the season so far. He has carried the Phillies.

Third base: Larry Jones
Grown men shouldn’t be called Chipper, even when they hit close to .400.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez
This guy makes the game look easy. He’s a lock for the next ten years.

Designated Hitter: Ryan Howard
I like that this guy will either strikeout or go yard. There is no in-between.

Outfield: Nate McLouth, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun
These three aren’t the biggest names in the National League, but they’ve been carrying their respective teams.

Starting Pitcher: Tim Lincecum
This kid weighs 120 pounds and throws 98 MPH. The fact that he’s 10-1 and is the lone bright spot on the Giants also helps.

Reserves:
Geovany Soto C
Brian McCann C
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Derrek Lee 1B
Dan Uggla 2B
David Wright 3B
Jose Reyes SS
Miguel Tejada SS
Carlos Lee OF
Pat Burrell OF
Matt Holliday OF
Edinson Volquez SP
Brandon Webb SP
Dan Haren SP
Cole Hamels SP
Ben Sheets SP
Ryan Dempster SP
Kerry Wood RP
Jose Valverde RP
Brad Lidge RP

So there you have it, the official thefoulline.com 2008 All Star Team.

Swept Away

I was planning to write “A Tale of Two Cities, Part II” and talk about how much better the city of Boston is compared to Denver. I could have taken some cheap shots about the quality of fans in New England and the fair-weathered bandwagon jumpers in Colorado, but I would just be preaching to the choir.

I have never felt so confident that the Red Sox are going to win the World Series as I do right now. Boston has big-game pitchers, clutch hitting, and more playoff experience than the Rockies. I don’t mean to insult both of Colorado’s season ticket holders, but these are the facts.

It’s not just the Rockies that the Sox would pound, it’s every team in the National League. The NL sucks. The best teams in the NL would be lucky to make the playoffs in the American League. But I guess Colorado already got lucky once and were able to back into the playoffs thanks to a stupid tie breaker. And I don’t want to hear about the Rockies winning 21 out of their last 22 games. Who cares? This just proves that they are the best out of all the mediocre teams. Now that is truly a great accomplishment. Rockie fans, be proud. You made the World Series. Unfortunately for you, there are only four games left in your season. Boston is going to sweep!

Check back tomorrow for the World Series breakdown of both teams.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over

I hate Dane Cook. I don’t think he’s funny. But I agree with him, there is only one October. I also like to think that there is only one November, one April, etc., etc. The Major League playoffs is the one event in all of sports that consistently delivers. What’s so great about the playoffs is you can never count a team out. No matter what the game count is, until you’ve won four it’s still anybody’s game.

Behind solid pitching and an offense that can score in bunches, Boston rallied from a three-games-to-one deficit to knock off the Cleveland Indians. It’s easy to compare this team to the 2004 World Series Champions. Both teams never say die and play hard until the final out.

In game seven last night, Dice K may have quieted the critics for a little while at least. Dice K came out of the gates smoking. He pounded his fastball and kept the Indians off balance with his off-speed stuff. The first three innings he was awesome. The fourth and fifth innings, Dice K allowed a couple of baserunners but was able to minimize the damage. He performed well last night. Let’s hope his new-found confidence will carry over to the World Series.

Speaking of confidence, is there anyone playing with more confidence than Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis right now? Pedroia is the Little Engine That Could. This guy goes up to the plate and just lets it rip. His two-run home run was the difference maker last night. He followed that up with a bases-loaded double in the eighth. Pedroia thrives under pressure. Not too bad for a rookie.

Youkilis is scary. The way he looks. The sweat constantly pouring off his head. The intensity that he plays with every game. Youkilis was the one guy in the Sox lineup that was consistent through out the ALCS. He batted .425 and had four home runs. These two guys have been the catalysts in rejuvenating the Boston offense. As the stage gets bigger, these two play better.

What makes this victory so special is not only the way the Red Sox came back, but the competition they did it against. The Cleveland Indians are a great team. They play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. They have a great lineup of young talent that never quits. They are a classy organization with passionate fans. They will build off this loss. I’m sure they’ll be back in the playoffs for many years to come.

The Red Sox are firing on all cylinders right now. The starting pitching has come around, featuring two of the best playoff pitchers of all time. The Sox offense has been scary, with everybody contributing. And the bullpen has been lights out. They will be facing a Rockies team that has won 21 out of the last 22 games. Of course, all of these wins came against the Junior Varsity that is known as the National League. Let’s hope the eight days off and the four inches of snow in Colorado have cooled them off.