The Week That Was in Baseball: June 29-July 5, 2009
If We Picked the All-Stars The Return of Manny Ramirez
Making a Beeline to Petco Park
Who is Bryce Harper? You'll Soon Know

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If We Picked the All-Stars
The final results are in on the MLB All-Star selections, and so are the ballots from This Great Game’s Eric Gouldsberry and Ed Attanasio, who made their own picks this past week. Following is a breakdown of Eric and Ed’s selections in contrast to those of the fans. What do you think? Go to our TGG Facebook page and let us know.

American League
Ed’s pick: Joe Mauer, Minnesota
Eric’s pick: Joe Mauer, Minnesota
The fans’ pick: Joe Mauer, Minnesota
Little debate here. Mauer is having a monster year even by his standards, batting near .400 with—at midseason—a career high in home runs (and that, after missing the first month of the season with a bad back).

National League
Ed’s pick: Bengie Molina, San Francisco
Eric’s pick: Yadier Molina, St. Louis
The fans’ pick: Yadier Molina, St. Louis
Eric and Ed agree on the last name, but not the first. Bengie’s been supplying much-needed power to the Giants but is slow as molasses and has drawn almost no walks; Yadier’s less the hitter (though he can hit), but has been far better at nabbing opposing baserunners.

First Base
American League
Ed’s pick: Mark Teixeira, New York
Eric’s pick: Justin Morneau, Minnesota
The fans’ pick: Mark Teixeira, New York
A lot of good choices here, when you throw in Kevin Youkilis and Miguel Cabrera. For Ed, it comes down to Texeira’s late and prodigious charge after a weak (and unprotected—no A-Rod) start. For Eric, it comes down to the simple fact that Morneau has better all-around numbers.

National League
Ed’s pick: Albert Pujols, St. Louis
Eric’s pick: Albert Pujols, St. Louis
The fans’ pick: Albert Pujols, St. Louis
A slam-dunk selection. How good is Pujols? He has twice the votes as the other contenders at this position, heavyweight names such as Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez.

Second Base
American League
Ed’s pick: Aaron Hill, Toronto
Eric’s pick: Aaron Hill, Toronto
The fans’ pick: Dustin Pedroia, Boston
Aaron who? Do your homework (unlike the voters) and look at the hard numbers and you’ll find out quickly. Hill, one of many surprises at the plate for Toronto this year, finished a distant fourth in the final tally.

National League
Ed’s pick: Chase Utley, Philadelphia
Eric’s pick: Chase Utley, Philadelphia
The fans’ pick: Chase Utley, Philadelphia
The default pick for many fans, and justifiably so given his performance to date.

American League
Ed’s pick: Derek Jeter, New York
Eric’s pick: Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay
The fans’ pick: Derek Jeter, New York
Jeter is the known quantity and thus got the votes (including Ed’s), yet Eric’s going with Bartlett and his sizzling .362 average, .567 slugging percentage and 17 steals.

National League
Ed’s pick: Hanley Ramirez, Florida
Eric’s pick: Hanley Ramirez, Florida
The fans’ pick: Hanley Ramirez, Florida
Another majority opinion, though we have to ask: How does Jimmy Rollins, having an absolutely horrible year, get so close to overtaking Ramirez in the tally? (Answer: Look at attendance figures in Florida and Philly and you’ll understand.)

Third Base
American League
Ed’s pick: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay
Eric’s pick: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay
The fans’ pick: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay
With a tabloid- and injury-plagued Alex Rodriguez currently unworthy of this honor, the easy fill-in goes to Longoria, although Texas’ Michael Young should get a back-up spot for his hitting and solid, first-year handling of the hot corner.

National League
Ed’s pick: David Wright, New York
Eric’s pick: David Wright, New York
The fans’ pick: David Wright, New York
There’s many other players (Ryan Zimmerman, Pablo Sandoval, Casey Blake—even Mark Reynolds, errors, strikeouts and all) who warrant strong consideration, but Wright’s output to date—and vital importance to the injury-ravaged Mets—puts him a half-notch above.

American League
Ed’s picks: Jason Bay, Boston; Torii Hunter, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle
Eric’s picks: Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay; Torii Hunter, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle
The fans’ pick: Jason Bay, Boston; Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle;
Josh Hamilton, TexasFinally, a return to some dissent between Ed and Eric. Ed sides with the fans and goes with Bay, bringing home the runs but with a subpar batting average. Eric goes with Crawford, whose lively hitting and speed (41 steals, already) earns his support. The fans gave Hamilton the third nod more on what he did in 2008.

National League
Ed’s picks: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee; Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia; Brad Hawpe, Colorado
Eric’s picks: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee; Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia; Brad Hawpe, Colorado
The fans’ pick: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee; Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia; Carlos Beltran, New York
No disagreement here between Ed and Eric. Braun and Ibanez earn our selections based on pure offense, and we throw in the surprise with Hawpe, who’s barely a blip on the voters’ radar; yes, he does play his home games at Coors Field (where he’s hitting over .400), but he’s put up more than commendable numbers on the road.

Starting Pitcher
American League
Ed’s pick: Zack Greinke, Kansas City
Eric’s pick: Zack Greinke, Kansas City
(The fans are not allowed to select pitchers.)
C’mon. Who else?

National League
Ed’s pick: Jason Marquis, Colorado
Eric’s pick: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco
Eric juggled between Lincecum and Arizona’s Dan Haren, both of whom are equally deserving, and finally settled on Lincecum. But Ed, picking Marquis? It must have been that two-hit shutout thrown against Ed’s beloved Dodgers that made him a believer.

Coming Soon to TGG
Look this week for our traditional mid-season report card on the best and worst so far of the 2009 season in our Opinions section.

The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.

They Came From Mannywood
If Manny Ramirez had to face the music on the road following his 50-game suspension for PEDs, there’s no better place to have done it than San Diego, as Yahoo’s Tim Brown mentions: “It’s San Diego, and the southbound carpool lane was clogged with Dodger bumper stickers.” But as Brown noted, the Dodgers next go to New York.

For his second debut of the 2009 season, Friday at Petco Park, Ramirez went quietly hitless with a walk in four plate appearances in the Dodgers’ 6-1 win over the Padres; he was fairly quiet beforehand, when he addressed the media in a formal news conference with agent Scott Boras by his side. When he did speak, Manny was being Manny—acting flippant, cracking mild jokes and going the Jason Giambi route by apologizing to his team and fans—for exactly what, he never revealed.

While Manny Was Away
Without Ramirez, the Dodgers were 29-21. Juan Pierre, his main replacement in the outfield, hit .318 in his absence.

Bee Gone!
There was a buzz at San Diego’s Petco Park this past week, and it had nothing to do with Ramirez’s return from his forced 50-game vacation. A day before Manny invaded town, the left field area of the Padres’ ballpark was swarmed over by some 2,000 bees, following their queen to a ballgirl’s Padre jacket along the left field line. They eventually settled under the jacket in the shape and size of a soccer ball, all while the Padres contacted a beekeeper to come out and take care of the problem. After a 52-minute delay, the bees were gone and the game, eventually won by Houston over the Padres, 7-2, resumed in the top of the ninth inning.

Is the Bryce Age Imminent?
Some people read the Sports Illustrated story on 16-year old baseball phenom Bryce Harper last month and, understandably, came to the conclusion that SI is trying to pull another Sidd Finch on us. Apparently, Harper is for real—and if he’s not, we’ve been had like some complex scam out of a David Mamet movie. Harper, who is big, strong, can hit a ball well over 500 feet, pitch nearly 100 MPH and run like a gazelle, decided this past week that he’ll skip his final two years of high school and enter the MLB amateur draft as early as next year. That’s the good news for MLB teams seeking his services. The bad news is that Harper is represented by Scott Boras.

The Most Talented Defector?
In the Netherlands this past week, 21-year old Cuban southpaw Aroldis Chapman defected from the Cuban national team during a tournament. Chapman, who is said to possess a fastball of 100 MPH and played this past spring in the World Baseball Classic (with mixed results), will likely make his pitch to become a major leaguer. That’s the good news for MLB teams seeking his services. The other good news is that Chapman is not represented by Scott Borasyet.

The Loan Star of Texas
It’s hard times apparently for Texas owner Tom Hicks, who was recently loaned $15 million by MLB to help make payroll for the Rangers. Hicks, who also owns the Dallas Stars’ NHL team and a chunk of the prestigious Liverpool soccer club in the English Premier League, defaulted on a half-billion-dollar loan and needed the quick cash. It is widely reported that Hicks will be forced to sell the Rangers to help pay off those debts; current Ranger president and Hall of Fame legend Nolan Ryan is said to be among a group of investors interested in buying.

He Blinded Us With Rocket Science
Rusty Hardin, the combative lawyer for disgraced former pitcher Roger Clemens, apparently phoned up the same lawyers who outted Sammy Sosa from the list of players who tested positive in MLB’s “anonymous” drug testing of 2003 and said, “Please, please, please, tell me Roger’s not on that list.” Relax, Rusty, said the lawyers, he’s not. So Hardin couldn’t wait to tell the world, although the world needs to remind him that Clemens is accused of taking HGH between 1998-2001, not two years afterward.

A-List Star, B-12 Story, C-Ya Later!
Rafael Palmeiro, another fallen star of the steroids era, came out of the deep shadows—where he’s been hiding since he was nailed for a positive test in 2005—to accept inclusion into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in Lubbock, Texas. One of just four major leaguers to have collected at least 3,000 hits and 500 homers, Palmeiro faced reporters before his induction and stuck to his initial story regarding his positive test: “What I took was a B-12 that was given to me by a teammate. That’s it.” This time, he didn’t mention Miguel Tejada, another proven steroid user, as that teammate; nor did he mention that he was officially busted for taking stanozolol, a potent anabolic steroid. Palmeiro hopes that the list of 104 players who tested positive in 2003 does get released to the public, because he’s certain he’s not on it.

Good Day to Go With the Under
Of the 30 major league teams in action on Wednesday, 13 of them scored no more than a run.

Today at Camp: How to Watch a Baseball Game!
On the same day they were breaking ground on their new ballpark, the Florida Marlins held a matinee against the lowly Washington Nationals—which likely conjured up memories of similar midweek afternoon games against the Nats played over the last couple years in which well under 1,000 fans attended. The Marlins saw to that by contacting every existing summer camp south of Lake Okeechobee, and asked the kids and counselors to bag the tents and gators for a day and come to the game—leading to an official crowd count of 27,032. The Marlins rewarded the future season ticket holders of the new ballpark with a 5-3 win.

No Thanks For Your Non-Support
Oakland pitcher Dallas Braden has allowed two or fewer runs in each of last seven starts—and has only won two of those games. He’s lost two others and had three no-decisions.

Home Cookin'
Andre Ethier of the Los Angeles Dodgers has hit 14 of his 16 home runs this season at home.

Hey, This Big League Stuff is Easy
In Ryan Sadowski’s first two major league starts for San Francisco, the Giants have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 20-0. Sadowski, who at first glance looks something between Giant pitching legend Carl Hubbell and Frankie Muniz, the title character from the recent Fox sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle,” has tossed 13 consecutive scoreless innings to start his career, the longest by a Giant pitcher since Mike Remlinger tossed 15 frames in 1991.

Just Curious
Did the Triple-A Gwinnet Braves ever consider naming their team the Paltrow?

Wounded of the Week
It’s one thing to get over a physical injury; after all, a torn labrum doesn’t have a mind of its own. But when you’re dealing with something more mental, it’s can be a bit harder to shake it. Ask St. Louis shortstop Khalil Greene, who, like Detroit pitcher Dontrelle Willis a few weeks ago, re-submitted himself to the disabled list with social anxiety disorder. Greene, batting an even .200 so far in 2009, had just come off the DL less than two weeks earlier with the same problem.

Those also taking a seat on the ouch couch this week—with injuries less mental—include Boston third baseman Mike Lowell (hip), Minnesota starting pitcher Kevin Slowey (wrist), Atlanta second baseman Kelly Johnson (wrist) and Seattle third baseman Adrian Beltre, who’ll miss up to two months after surgery on his shoulder.

This Week's Challenger to Joe DiMaggio
Toronto’s Scott Rolen slipped past us last week when he hoisted a couple of other players who actually had lesser active hitting streaks than he. This week, Rolen improved his current run to 22 games, longest in the majors at upload time. The veteran third baseman has done it with a minimum of power (mirroring the season he’s had in general), but the Blue Jays are just happy to see him keep the average high—and to do so without getting hurt.