Your National League All-Star vote leaders

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2010 All-Star Game.JPGWe did this yesterday for the American League, so now it’s the senior circuit’s turn.  Your NL All-Star ballot leaders to date:

C: Yadier Molina
1B: Albert Pujols
2B: Chase Utley
3B: Placido Polanco
SS: Jimmy Rollins
OF: Ryan Braun, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino

Yeah, Phillies fans are stuffing the ballot box. Whatever. This is what happens when you leave democracy to the people. Nothing will change in this regard until everyone comes to their senses and installs me as Benevolent Dictator.

Of course not all of these choices are bad.  Pujols is Pujols (though more on him below), Chase Utley is by far the best second baseman in the league, and Jayson Werth is more than worthy to start for the NL All-Stars. But if we were going purely on early-season performance — which, as I noted yesterday is my personal preference even though I realize that reasonable people may disagree — we’d have a different setup:

  • For the first time in forever you have an argument that someone besides Pujols deserves first base. His name is Joey Votto and he currently has an OPS a mere .013 behind El Hombre.  No, I don’t think that will last all year or that he’s close to being as good as Pujols is, but Votto at deserves to at least have his name mentioned. Lucky that the fans don’t get to pick backups. Instead of Votto we’d get Rico Brogna or Ricky Jordan or someone.
  • Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco are beyond lame picks and even the Phillies fans who wrote their names down know it. One has hardly played and the other is currently 10th at OPS in the NL at his position.  How about Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Zimmerman instead? If attitude bugs you, swap out Tulowitzki or Stephen Drew instead.
  • There aren’t a ton of great choices at catcher in the National League. Brian McCann is having a hot and cold year, currently at cold, and the NL’s best hitting catcher — Ryan Doumit — is a defensive disaster. When in doubt go Molina? Sure, why not. Yadier is great on defense even if he’s not hitting a lick so maybe that should be recognized.
  • My first impulse was to give the fans the benefit of the doubt on leaving Andre Ethier out of the top three due to his injury, but given the Polanco and Rollins picks it’s possible that they’re not even watching baseball this year, let alone discounting for lost playing time. Alfonso Soriano has apparently gone from no one realizing how bad he had gotten to no one realizing how good a season he’s having. And c’mon: don’t we have room for Jason Heyward?  He’s a modern day Chris Sabo!  Or am I the only one who remembers the 1988 All-Star game?

Oh well. Like I said yesterday: it’s an exhibition and not a competition. At least not anymore, so let us not get too bent out of shape about it, mmm-kay?

MLB teams pay tribute to José Fernández’s memory

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Following the announcement of the 24-year-old’s death, Major League Baseball observed a moment of silence for José Fernández before each of today’s games. While this afternoon’s Marlins-Braves game was cancelled out of respect for the organization, Miami painted Fernández’s jersey number on the mound in honor of their former pitcher.

Other teams, like the Mets, Mariners, and Dodgers, chose to honor Fernández by hanging his No. 16 jersey in their dugout:

Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports that David Ortiz‘s pregame retirement ceremony at Tropicana Field was canceled at the player’s request:

The Astros and Diamondbacks each displayed a personal tribute to Fernández, writing the number 16 on their caps and etching his number and initials in the bullpen:

Rest in peace, Fernández.

Tempers flare, benches clear during Sunday’s Nationals-Pirates game

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 24: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals reaches on a fielder's choice in the fourth inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
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A fake tag by third baseman Jung Ho Kang led to a beanball and emptied benches during Sunday afternoon’s game between the Nationals and Pirates at PNC Park.

In the top of the third inning, Bryce Harper led off with a triple to right field. He ran hard towards third base and Kang feigned receiving a throw which had, in reality, missed the cut-off man. That caused Harper, who had already committed to sliding head-first into the third base bag, to come into the bag awkwardly, injuring his left hand. Harper stayed in the game initially, scoring on an Anthony Rendon single, but he did not take his position for the bottom half of the inning. Chris Heisey took his spot in right field.

On the Nationals’ television broadcast, former major leaguer F.P. Santangelo said, “Kang faked a tag. You don’t fake a tag in the big leagues. You don’t fake a tag anywhere — you can hurt somebody.”

Nationals starter A.J. Cole got two quick outs to start the bottom of the third, bringing up Kang. Cole immediately threw a fastball up and in at Kang, which ended up sailing behind his back. Cole was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Jordan Baker. Some Pirates and Nationals players spilled out onto the field and the rest of the players and bullpens joined them not too long after.

Sean Rodriguez, known for his temper, needed to be held back by Gerrit Cole and David Freese. Rodriguez was ejected by Baker as well. When order was restored, Rafael Martin took over for Cole and struck out Kang to end the frame.

Cole and Rodriguez are likely looking at fines and suspensions. The Nationals should have more on Harper’s status after Sunday’s game is completed.