Now, seriously, tell me that is not one of the best backdrops to a stadium in all of the MLB stadiums. You’ve got a beautful stadium already and then you’ve got a nice calm, city outside the stadium and the famous St. Louis arch. It’s just a great sight and I think it is this picture is one of the best of any other MLB related picture.
So the guys that outperformed the rest of the MLB are going to be playing in one of the best stadiums around the MLB to try and secure their respective leagues a home field advantage for the 2009 World Series. Now, the past twelve years, the AL has won. No doubt, domination. The AL has just produced more top players than the NL and they have outperformed the NL the past decade + some. The pitching has been better the hitting has been better and the coaching has been better. Everything that makes up a team has been better on the AL side than the NL side.
In the 2003 All Star Game, Texas Rangers 3B Hank Blalock hit a pinch-hit two run home run in the eighth inning off, then, one of the best closers in the game, Eric Gagne. The shot was a no doubter and it put the AL on top and would be the game winning shot. That was the closest the NL has come to winning an All Star Game in the past twelve years other than the 2002 All Star game that ended in a tie.
This year, the NL may have a little better of a lineup but the AL counters it with a pretty good lineup itself and maybe some better pitching. The starters in the game are both very deserving of their spots: Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum.
In my opinion, the NL has a better offensive lineup having a ton of power hitters , all capable of going yard at any moment. The AL has their offensive up sides as well, very little seperating the talent of the two lineups, but the AL may have a little more all around good play. They have more guys that can do the little things to win and the NL doesn’t necessarily have that.
On defense, the lineups are stacked with gold glovers or close to gold glovers. Solid defensive players all around and it will be interesting to see how the defense affects the game. As most of you know, defense is a huge part of the game. It may not seem so but it is. There have been some big defensive plays that have changed parts of the games in the past. You all remember Torii Hunter’s rob of Barry Bonds’ homer in the 2002 All Star Game, the one that ended in a tie because of the lack of pitchers. Yeah, if that ball had gone out, the game may not have ended in a tie. In fact the NL would have finally won an All Star Game.
The MLB stars that have been voted into this game have earned their spot and deserve their chance to represent their respective leagues. The game will hopefully be an intersting one. It is usually a great time, the All Star Game. And I don’t think there is a better place to have it than in Busch Stadium with the St. Louis arch in the backround and the fans pouring into the stands to watch the best of the best play America’s pastime. The stars will shine bright into the St. Louis night.
As you can see in this picture of Prince Fielder, he uses every inch of his body to produce power to send a ball into the stands. Last night, he used his body to the fullest 23 times as Prince Fielder won the 2009 Home Run Derby in St. Louis.
To start off the Derby, Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers stepped up to the plate and put on a show, sending multiple bombs to deep, deep left field. And I mean deep. This guy really had some serious power. He ended the first round with a promising 11 homers that would hopefully be enough to get him into the second round.
Prince Fielder followed with another 11 home run performance in which he sent his own fair share of blasts into the outfield bleachers. Both guys put on a show and were in hope of having a second round spot available with there 11 home run totals.
The show was set on Albert Pujols, one of the best all time hitting in front of his own home crowd. He came up last in the lineup for the first round as the suspense built as the St. Louis crowd waited for his arrival. Unfortunately, Pujols dissapointed and didn’t get into the second round with astonishing numbers that many thought he would produce. Instead, his five home runs were good enough for a “bat off” as Chris Berman and the rest of the commentating crew called it. So Pujols competed in a competition of five swings against Carlos Pena and Joe Mauer who also had five homers in the first round. Carlos Pena came up first and hit one out. Mauer failed to get any over the fence, and when Albert came up, he hit two to satisfy the crowd and assure him a spot in the second round.
Now, the other hometown boy, Ryan Howard, got some love from the crowd as he advanced to the second round to continue his quest for a second Home Run Derby victory. Howard sent a handful of blasts into right, right center, and center field to get the crowd behind him. The majority of his shots were liners and not too many bombs. It was still pretty fun watching him do well back in his home town though.
The first round proved fatal for my pick to win it, Adrian Gonzalez, as he only hit two over the fence. He came close on multiple shots that hit the wall or the warning track but was unable to get the ball over the fence enough to advance to the second round. So there went my pick right off the bat, but I still had other reasons to be proud at my picks.
Brandon Inge EPIC FAILED! He was shutout not even coming close on any of his hits. The closest he came was when he hit a line shot down the left field line that was clearly foul. That was his final out. So, I was right about Inge, who shouldn’t even have been there, doing a terrible job. He sucked!
So after the first round here are the guys that were still in it:
In the second round, Albert Pujols came back up to the plate after batting last in the first round and batting last in the bat off. Now he had to get a pretty good amount of home runs just to get to Cruz and Fielder’s totals of 11 from the first round. By the end of the second round bid from Pujols, he had a total of 11, probably to be beaten by both Cruz and Fielder.
Ryan Howard came up following Pujols and put on a late show with only a few outs left to go. He finished the second round with a promising 15. There was a possibility of him being in the final round. But after Fielder and Cruz batted, that dream was shattered.
Cruz went on to bat after Howard and put on another powerful performance sending many balls to the upper decks down the line in left and to the deepest parts of the park. He secured a final round bid with a total of 17 homers through the first two rounds. Now all that was to see was if Mr. Fielder could pass Howard’s mark of 15 and he did that to move on to the final round. A matchup of Cruz and Fielder. Two very powerful guys that would surely put on a show.
In the final round, Cruz batted first and put up five blasts to give Fielder a battle for the title. Fielder came up second and without even getting six outs, Fielder surpassed Cruz’s mark of 5 homers to win the 2009 Home Run Derby. His first Derby victory ended with a blast to right center field into the stands full of cheering fans.
Fielder’s victory was solid, sending the three longest shots into the night, including a 503 foot homer. The longest he has ever hit, he said after the contest, and it was definitely a blast. It was the longest of the Derby and Fielder put on the show that everyone expects at least one person to do. Last year it was Josh Hamilton, although Fielder’s show wasn’t as great as Hamiltons, but this year Fielder put on the show that made the whole thing worth watching for me.
Last year, Hamilton’s run of home runs was probably the best moment of recent baseball history. His story leading up to that point just made it all the better. Many pictures of the moment were captured but I think this one is the best.
Fielder and his Brewers teammate Ryan Braun celebrated after his final home run as they would at a regular game in which one of he hit a home run. Their little routine that they do finished off a great night for Fielder. As Hamilton had his great moment captured many times, as did Fielder.
Congrats to the 2009 Home Run Derby, Prince Fielder!
As all of you who read my post “Final Thoughts on Final Vote” know, my picks for the final vote were Shane Victorino and Ian Kinsler. You would also know that I thought Ian Kinsler should have already been in the All Star Game starting at second base instead of the reigning MVP Dustin Pedroia. Nothin against Pedroia who is having a good year, but Kinsler is having a better one. You would all know that Shane Victorino and Pablo Sandoval were both good choices in my eyes but that I would go with “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” simply because I felt he was having a better season. Now that the final vote is over, I have some more thoughts on the two guys that finished off the AL and NL All Star rosters. Shane Victorino and Brandon Inge.
Now, Shane Victorino did all that he could over the course of the time limit for the final vote, including a walk off, some very good stats, and a continued season of full out effort. He worked for it, deserved it, and is going to St. Louis to join some of his teammates in the NL’s attempt to win the All Star game for the first time in… I don’t know how long but the AL wins it almost every year. So this pick satisfies me and I have no further comment on the NL final man. Now the AL final vote pick has me thinking.
Brandon Inge, the third baseman from the Detroit Tigers. He’s having a good season, don’t get me wrong. But out of the guys that were available in the final vote, I don’t see how so many people picked Inge. He isn’t one of those hugely popular guys who can just count on his popularity to get picked. He isn’t that kind of guy. Kinsler on the other hand, has a following, is having a better season than Dustin Pedroia. He should have at least been a backup for the second base position. Now that he is going to be absent for this midsummer classic, it will feel like there is something important missing. Almost like missing an arm or a leg. Also, another guy that I feel got snubbed was Alexei Ramirez, the White Sox shortstop. He started off the season slow, but come May, he turned it on and has been having a STELLAR season. Now, there is some tough competition at the shortstop position this year (Jeter, Bartlett) and I can see how he didn’t get in. But I thought he could have maybe gotten in anyway. He’s having a good enough season so if he got in, there would be no question from me about him deserving the spot.
Well, that’s all I can say about this. I’m kind of all thought out. ‘Til next time…
His offense and defense were both tops among the non pitcher free agents and he was going to make whatever team was lucky enough to get him so much better. That’s right. Mark Teixeira. The golden boy that everyone wanted when he became a free agent after his contract with the Angels ran out. He was the top offensive free agent out there, possible the best overall. He was just that good and everyone wanted him. Since the Yankeeas have had an inconsistency at first base in the past (no one that could use a glove), they wanted to get a guy that could produce on offense and could use a glove. So who better to spend a big part of your enormous budget on than Mark Teixeira. One of the top free agents on the market. The Yanks signed him over the Red Sox, who were their top competition for Teixeira. They gave him a eight year, $180 million contract that would keep him in pinstripes for a long time. And hey, I’d like to keep him around for a while as well.
At the start of the season, Teixeira’s offense wasn’t as good as everyone had hoped it would be. A big hole in the Yankee offense that was one of the reasons they slipped as low as fourth place in the AL East. His defense was there, continuing his gold glove worthy work at the home plate corner of the diamond. So why was he having such a slow start. One of the reasons, now known, that Teixeira’s offense took a while to start up was the absence of another middle of the lineup guy, Alex Rodriguez. The projected lineup for the Yankees at the beginning of the season included Teixeira batting third and A-Rod batting fourth. The absence of the powerful A-Rod behind him may have caused him the slow start. But now, Teixeira’s performance at the plate could not be more the opposite of how it started.
Currently, he is batting .286, has 17 homers, has 50 RBI, has a .390 OBP, and has a .618 SLG. He is absolutely on fire. He has been so since A-Rod came back. Since his return, Teixeira has been on a tear and is one of the biggest parts of the Yankee offense. Now I’m starting to think that deal the Yankees signed him to is going to be worth it.
Last night, Teixeira had another big game. He went 2-5 with a solo homer and two additional RBI. He also played a solid game at first. Like he always has, he will be a solid first base defender and will have yet another shot at the first base gold glove. Someone he will have to compete with for that award will be Kevin Youkilis of the Red Sox. Youk is also a very good player on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. He is always in contention for the gold glove at first base. He is the defender of that award from last season but the battle will still be a good one.
So, the Yankees have gained so much since Tex has gone on his tear. He is the biggest part of their offense, a solid defender, and a great presence in the dugout. He was a huge aquisition for the team and that huge deal he signed may end up to be worth it. He is having a great season and, with the All Star weekend coming up, may earn a trip to St. Louis to play with the best of the best. He is my pick for the AL starting first baseman (sorry Youk). Hopefully he will continue to tear it up for the Yanks as the season is going on. I am expecting him to be in the running for AL MVP at the end of the season and I am also expecting him to lead this team to the playoffs and hopefully to a World Series victory. Who knows? That’s a while away. But hey… you can never be too ready.