Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Chris Sale says Tony Gwynn’s death saved his life

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SAN DIEGO — During this morning’s press conference announcing the starting lineups, a local reporter asked the managers and starting pitchers how local legend Tony Gwynn impacted them. For his part, Ned Yost told a funny story about how, back when he was coaching the Braves, Bobby Cox and the best pitching staff of the decade had no idea how to get Gwynn out so they eventually just suggested throwing the ball down the middle to see what happened. That didn’t work either. Gwynn could hit a little bit.

American League starter Chris Sale had a more poignant comment. He said that Tony Gwynn saved his life. He did so by virtue of his death. Sale was a long time smokeless tobacco user. He quit, however, on June 16, 2014. That was the day Tony Gwynn died or oral cancer. Sale said that he has not touched the stuff since and that that “to say that he saved my life, I don’t think it’s an understatement.”

As we’ve noted in the past, it’s quite possible and likely probable that Gwynn’s heavy smokeless tobacco use did not, in fact, cause the cancer that killed him. Gwynn believed it did, however, and his death has become perhaps the biggest symbol of the perils of smokeless tobacco in and around baseball. That there may not have been an actual link between it and his death is sort of beside the point, especially given that even if it did not cause his cancer, it’s clearly a dangerous and deadly habit.

Tony Gwynn was a hero to many and an inspiration to many more. Regardless of the medical science at play, if his example, negative or otherwise, has inspired people to quit a terrible habit, he’s continuing to do good from Baseball Valhalla.

All-Star lineups, starting pitchers announced

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SAN DIEGO — All-Star managers Terry Collins and Ned Yost just announced their starting lineups and starting pitchers at a press conference here in San Diego. Here’s how it breaks down:

American League Lineup:

1. Jose Altuve 2b
2. Mike Trout CF
3. Manny Machado 3B
4. David Ortiz DH
5. Xander Bogaerts SS
6. Eric Hosmer 1B
7. Mookie Betts RF
8. Salvador Perez C
9. Jackie Bradley Jr. LF

Chris Sale of the White Sox gets the start. Yost said that following Sale will be Corey Kluber, Cole Hamels, Aaron Sanchez and Jose Quintana. After that he’ll get into the pen.

National League Lineup:

1. Ben Zobrist 2B
2. Bryce Harper RF
3. Kris Bryant 3B
4. Wil Myers DH
5. Buster Posey C
6. Anthony Rizzo 1B
7. Marcell Ozuna CF
8. Carlos Gonzalez LF
9. Addison Russell SS

Johnny Cueto of the Giants is the starter. Collins said he had no set schedule yet for pitchers to follow Cueto.

I find it notable that the two players most often referred to as the best in baseball — Mike Trout and Bryce Harper — are batting second. The more advanced thinking in this day and age is that your best hitter should probably bat second. Most managers still don’t do that too often. Here two of the more traditional and, dare I say it, old school managers in the game are doing just that. They’ll be subbed out after a couple of innings so it doesn’t really matter, but it’s still kind of neat.

Giancarlo Stanton is the favorite to win the Home Run Derby

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SAN DIEGO — Last year Todd Frazier was the favorite to win the Home Run Derby. He won the Home Run Derby. In 2014 Giancarlo Stanton was the favorite to win the Home Run Derby. He did not win it. Yoenis Cespedes did. There’s probably a lesson to be drawn from that but I just can’t tease it out. It probably has to do with not betting on crap like the Home Run Derby.

But hey, don’t let me judge you. You’re an adult. If you want to gamble on this thing, go ahead. It’s only the money for the kids braces and stuff. If you do so, here are your odds, courtesy of Bovada:

Giancarlo Stanton: +350
Mark Trumbo: +375
Wil Myers: +550
Todd Frazier: +600
Adam Duvall: +600
Robinson Cano: +800
Carlos Gonzalez: +800
Corey Seager: +900

The non-gambling among you should know that, with these sorts of betting lines, a +350 means you have to bet $100 to win $350 on Giancarlo Stanton, etc. etc. As far as these things go, Stanton is not an overwhelming long shot. It’s probably anybody’s contest.

It’s seeded, by the way, based on the number of homers each player has entering the break, with Trumbo first, Seager eighth and so on. Those to face off in the first round as do Stanton and Cano, Duvall vs. Myers and Frazier vs. Gonzalez.

As always, the combatants get to choose their pitcher. It’s often a father-son affair. This year Seager will have his father Jeff pitch to him and Myers will have his brother pitch to him. As many of my Twitter correspondents have said in the past week they should just have Chris Young pitch to everyone, but Major League Baseball never seems to want to have fun like that.

The show gets underway at 8pm Eastern tonight. Enjoy.