Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna, Jr., in his 4th season, has become Public Enemy #1 in Miami.
Friday night, Marlins starter Pablo Lopez plunked Acuna in the back, the third time Acuna has been hit by Marlins pitching this season, continuing an issue dating back to Acuna's rookie season in 2018. After a discussion, at the request of Braves manager Brian Snitker, Lopez, along with Miami manager Don Mattingly and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, Jr., were ejected. Acuna would score the only run of the game as the Braves won their third straight, 1-0, and picked up a half-game on the idled Mets, who were rained out in the Bronx.
Ever since Major League Baseball gave its fans the right to vote for the All-Star Game 50 years ago, it's become too much of a popularity contest most of the time, and it also exposes another problem with the average fan. Too parochial, and unwilling to acknowledge when a player is having a bad year or is injured and can't play.
Ye scribe takes these factors into account when casting votes, but why can't the sheep who use name recognition to justify voting in some of the same players every year? Because, more often than not, they don't think.
That having been said, let's take a look at this year's All-Star starters, the result of a two-tiered voting system introduced this year by Google, this year's sponsor.
1st base: Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. (Toronto). Guerrero is among the leaders in home runs in the AL, and that, in itself, is a prevalent trend this year.
2nd base: Marcus Semien (Toronto). Semien, previously with Oakland and the Chicago White Sox, rides the Guerrero wave to his first All-Star start.
Shortstop: Xander Bogaerts (Boston).
Third Base: Rafael Devers (Boston). Part of the reason the BoSox are in the division title hunt in the AL East has to do with these two.
Designated Hitter: Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles). Enough said.
Catcher: Salvatore Perez (Kansas City).
Outfield: Aaron Judge (Yankees), Teoscar Hernandez (Toronto), Mike Trout (Los Angeles).
Trout's inclusion illustrates my point about the sheep ignoring the fact that Trout is injured and won't be able to play. He won't be ready to return to the Angels lineup until after the break. Do your research, people!
1st base: Freddie Freeman (Atlanta). The numbers aren't what they usually are, but, again, it's a sheep mentality at work that lifts Freeman past Chicago's Anthony Rizzo. And a pox on you jabronies for shutting out the Mets' Pete Alonso, by the way.
2nd base: Adam Frazier (Pittsburgh). Who? Exactly.
Shortstop: Fernando Tatis, Jr. (San Diego). This figures to be the first of many All-Star selections.
Catcher: Buster Posey (San Francisco). See what I mean about sheep mentality?
3rd base: Nolan Arenado (St. Louis). Arenado returns to Denver after being traded by the Rockies after the 2020 season. Heavy ballot stuffing in Denver & St. Louis, based on reputation.
Outfield: Ronald Acuna, Jr. (Atlanta), Jesse Winker & Nick Castellanos (Cincinnati). Very surprising to have the two Reds in place of Bryce Harper and, say, for example, Juan Soto, but the Reds did get off to a good start this season.
The voters don't get to pick the pitchers. Managers Kevin Cash (Tampa Bay) & Dave Roberts (Los Angeles) will. Fans in New York are butt-hurt because the sheep blocked the Mets from landing starting berths, although ace Jacob deGrom could be picked. And deGrom has gone on record as saying that if he pitches the weekend of the game, say, next Sunday, for example, he won't pitch in the All Star Game. Given the injury issues he's had, can you blame him?
The Mets' Pete Alonso will defend his title in the Home Run Derby, but the 2019 runner-up, Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., will not participate. Shohei Ohtani will take Guerrero's place, and, in this writer's opinion, despite being a Mets fan, Ohtani is the prohibitive favorite to dethrone Alonso. It will be fun.