The 2014 All-Star Game Preview

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN — The salad is finished. Bring on the steak.

We have spent 48 hours looking at the Future, watching a sideshow and gazing at baseball’s navel. Now that that is over the All-Star Game itself is at hand. And, no matter what you think of it, the fact that it is the only baseball game around makes it worth your time.

The starting pitchers and starting lineups are set. Here’s the order A.L. starter Felix Hernandez will face to start things off:

NATIONAL LEAGUE:

CF Andrew McCutchen
RF Yasiel Puig
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Paul Goldschmidt
DH Giancarlo Stanton
3B Aramis Ramirez
2B Chase Utley
Jonathan Lucroy
LF Carlos Gomez

And the hometown nine, technically speaking anyway, which will do battle with N.L. starter Adam Wainwright:

AMERICAN LEAGUE:
SS Derek Jeter
LF Mike Trout
2B Robinson Cano
1B Miguel Cabrera
RF Jose Bautista
DH Nelson Cruz
CF Adam Jones
3B Josh Donaldson
Salvador Perez

The National League seems to have the stronger set of starters on paper. It’s certainly no walkover, but the outfield defense is unusually strong here, and that could make a big difference.

Of course, the starters may have the lease amount of impact on this game. Given how All-Star managers have taken to trying to get every player on the roster into the game at some point, bench players and relievers are going to play a large part in how this All-Star Game goes.

But make no mistake: no matter what happens on the field, the star of tonight’s show is going to be Derek Jeter. He’ll lead off to a huge amount of applause and he’ll be paid multiple tributes both at the ballpark and on the Fox broadcast. If he does anything notable — say, hit a homer in his final All-Star Game like Cal Ripken did several years ago, Katie bar the door.

Yes, it’s an exhibition, but it’s one with a great pedigree. And one, as the name promises, that is loaded with stars. It’s easy to get cynical about a lot in this world, but if you’re cynical about the All-Star Game, well, I feel kinda bad for you.

Wanna see Yasiel Puig and Dallas Keuchel naked?

Associated Press
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On the one hand, the ESPN Magazine “Body Issue” is a transparent attempt by ESPN to sell magazines via the objectification of the human form in a time of the year when only one major team sport — the one ESPN seems to care about the least, baseball — is active and people are generally not buying a ton of magazines.

On the other hand, unlike “Sports Illustrated’s” swimsuit issue, ESPN objectifies men as well as women, at least making things putatively fair. Oh, and they also, on occasion, put people like Prince Fielder in the thing so as to not exclusively promote unrealistic body standards.

So, on balance: not great and still cynical, but it’s better than its antecedent, and I suppose that’s not nothing.

If you can make your way through the moral and ethical implications of all of this unscathed, feel free to gawk at Yasiel Puig and Dallas Keuchel naked. Here is the link to Puig’s spread, here is the link to Keuchel’s. For what it’s worth, Puig looks like he’s having more fun. Shocker.

A taste, from Puig’s Twitter feed:

Keuchel didn’t tweet out pics of himself in the all together. Like I said: he didn’t seem to have quite as much fun with it.