2015 All-Star Game Preview

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CINCINNATI — All of the parties, the Derbys the parades and the baloney is out of the way. Now it’s time for the actual All-Star Game.

Well, not quite yet. This evening there will still be a lot of . . . stuff. Pete Rose will make an appearance on the field here at Great American Ballpark, and I predict his ovation will be louder than even that given to Todd Frazier last night.

Also, the four “Greatest Living Ballplayers” and the “Franchise Four” of each team — all of which were voted on by fans — will be announced prior to the game. One of those Greatest Living Ballplayers is set to throw out the first pitch. That should create some controversy and argument fodder over the next couple of baseball-free days.

The U.S. Navy will conduct a flyover featuring four FA-18 Super Hornets. They practiced here yesterday. They’re loud. Not quite as loud, but definitely amplified will be Ciara, who will sing the U.S. National Anthem and Leo Welsh who will perform the Canadian Anthem. Country singer Josh Turner will sing “God Bless America.”

But then there is a game. Here’s what you need to know:

First Pitch: 8:15PM
Channel: FOX

American League Lineup

1. Mike Trout, CF, Angels
2. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays
3. Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels
4. Nelson Cruz, DH, Mariners
5. Lorenzo Cain, RF, Royals
6. Adam Jones, LF, Orioles
7. Salvador Perez, C, Royals
8. Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
9. Alcides Escobar, SS, Royals
Dallas Keuchel, SP, Astros

Notes: Quite a familiar AL group. Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, Sal Perez, Mike Trout and Adam Jones all started last year, and many of them are on their third or fourth go-around. Missing is Alex Gordon and there is also no Miguel Cabrera due to injuries. Chris Sale may only be available in an emergency. Sonny Gray is unavailable due to pitching on Sunday.

National League Lineup

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pirates
2. Todd Frazier, 3B, Reds
3. Bryce Harper, RF, Nationals
4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
5. Buster Posey, C, Giants
6. Anthony Rizzo, DH, Cubs
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS, Cardinals
8. Joc Pederson, LF, Dodgers
9. DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Rockies
Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers

Notes: Joc Pederson is filling in for the injured Matt Holliday. No Giancarlo Stanton or Dee Gordon for the same reasons. Max Scherzer pitched on Sunday or else you figure he’d get the start. Otherwise it’s McCutchen and Goldschmidt and a lot of guys who haven’t been here much. At least as starters. There’s a lot of experience here from guys who were reserves in the past.

  • All of the reserves and pitchers — plus and minus a few substitutions — can be seen here.

As for a prediction? Well, these things are total crapshoots. I think Ned Yost constructed a more real life roster with middle relievers and utility guys in places, whereas Bruce Bochy has more starters and veterans. But if that is an advantage to Yost, it’s probably made up for by the fact that Bochy is the better manager.

Ultimately, however, this is the most unpredictable game played all year because it’s almost entirely not a game as we tend to understand baseball. But hey, at least it doesn’t count for anything important, right?

Oh, wait. It does. Something that has, historically, mattered a whole lot. As in,since 1985, the team with home-field advantage has won 23 of 29 World Series. And until the Giants beat the Royals on the road in Game Seven last year, the home team had won nine straight World Series Game Sevens.

Play ball?

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
LG Patterson/MLB via Getty Images
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: