One of the reasons interleague play should be abolished and thrown into the nearest and deepest accessible sea is what it's done to the nostalgia of the MLB All Star Game.
Before interleague play came along, the only time you could see National League players take on American League players was in the World Series and the Midsummer Classic. There was something cool about watching Roger Clemens try to strike out Mike Schmidt, or watching George Brett try to go deep against Dwight Gooden.
Now, you see NL and AL teams play against each other all the time and it's hurt the nostalgia of the game. That being said, it's an event I never miss, and this year will be no exception.
As you know, the fans are voting for the All Star starters, and there's a good chance the AL starting lineup will look as if the Kansas City Royals have vomited all over the page. But for the sake of this exercise, I'm going to pick who SHOULD be in the starting lineup, and then fill out the rest of the roster, keeping true to the rule that every team must have at least one representative at the game.
1B - Paul Goldschmidt - Arizona Diamondbacks
2B - Dee Gordon - Miami Marlins
SS - Brandon Crawford - San Francisco Giants
3B - Nolan Arenado - Colorado Rockies
OF - Bryce Harper - Washington Nationals
OF - Joc Pederson - Los Angeles Dodgers
OF - Andrew McCutchen - Pittsburgh Pirates
C - Buster Posey - San Francisco Giants
DH - Todd Frazier - Cincinnati Reds
SP - Max Scherzer - Washington Nationals
Thank goodness for the designated hitter rule, because it would have been a tough call between Arenado and Frazier at third base. Arenado gets the start at third because of his superior defense, while Frazier's 25 homers rank him second behind Stanton in the NL, putting him as the DH.
Poor Giancarlo Stanton. He would have been a shoo-in starter had he not broken his hand. But being out 4-6 weeks means he'll almost certainly miss the game.
And the starting pitcher is obviously going to be Scherzer, who has won the Pitcher of the Month Award back-to-back, in May and June. Sorry Gerrit Cole. Maybe next year.
1B - Anthony Rizzo - Chicago Cubs
1B - Joey Votto - Cincinatti Reds
2B - Joe Panik - San Francisco Giants
SS - Jhonny Peralta - St. Louis Cardinals
3B - Kris Bryant - Chicago Cubs
3B - Maikel Franco - Philadelphia Phillies
OF - Charlie Blackmon - Colorado Rockies
OF - Jason Heyward - St. Louis Cardinals
OF - Justin Upton - San Diego Padres
OF - Starling Marte - Pittsburgh Pirates
C - Yasmani Grandal - Los Angeles Dodgers
C - Derek Norris - San Diego Padres I really wanted to figure out a way to get Maikel Franco into this thing, but the other options out there were simply too good, and I didn't need him as the lone Phillies representative. And frankly, there weren't a lot of opportunities for snubs here.
OK, one of the commenters below changed my mind for me. I'm not ashamed to admit it. Since I only carried one back-up catcher on the AL roster, I decided to do the same on the NL roster so that I could get Maikel Franco into this game. I feel much better now.
Perhaps the biggest omission is the Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez, but I figured three first basemen was plenty and I really wanted to get Bryant into the game if at all possible. Mission accomplished.
SP - Gerrit Cole - Pittsburgh Pirates
SP - Clayton Kershaw - Los Angeles Dodgers
SP - Jake Arrieta - Chicago Cubs
SP - A.J. Burnett - Pittsburgh Pirates
SP - Zack Greinke - Los Angeles Dodgers
SP - Madison Bumgarner - San Francisco Giants
SP - Johnny Cueto - Cincinnati Reds
SP - Jacob deGrom - New York Mets
SP - Cole Hamels - Philadelphia Phillies
RP - Aroldis Chapman - Cincinnati Reds
RP -Trevor Rosenthal - St. Louis Cardinals
RP - Jason Grilli - Atlanta Braves
RP - Francisco Rodriguez - Milwaukee Brewers
Look, I didn't want to leave Jonathan Papelbon off the NL roster, but I simply had no choice. I had to put Hamels on the team, even though there's a good chance he may not even be a Phillie by the time the game rolls around. How fun!
I also had to go with one more pitcher than I would have liked in order to add Francisco Rodriguez, the last man on my roster. Milwaukee has no hitters worthy of inclusion, but I didn't want to bump any of the existing pitchers already there, so I got rid of Arizona's A.J. Pollock from the position player list, my last position player on the roster.
AL STARTING LINEUP:
1B - Miguel Cabrera - Detroit Tigers
2B - Jason Kipnis - Cleveland Indians
SS - Carlos Correa - Houston Astros
3B - Josh Donaldson - Toronto Blue Jays
OF - Mike Trout - Los Angeles Angels
OF - Jose Bautista - Toronto Blue Jays
OF - Lorenzo Cain - Kansas City Royals
C - Russell Martin - Toronto Blue Jays
DH - Nelson Cruz - Seattle Mariners
SP - Chris Sale - Chicago White Sox
He's not going to get in as a starter because he was only called up a few weeks ago, but Carlos Correa is already the best shortstop in the American League, and by the end of the season could have double the fWAR of the next closest shortstop. He's that good.
Russell gets the nod at catcher over Stephen Vogt. Both are outstanding offensively, but Russell is just a smidgen better defensively. That was a close call, though.
And the outfield was tough because so many of the top guys in the fWAR leaderboards are there because of their defense. And while defense is important, it's a freaking All Star Game and I want to see the bats. Albert Pujols deserved consideration at first base, but Cabrera is just an overall superior player.
As for the AL starter, there are a lot of worthy candidates, but Sale has been straight-up ridiculous lately. He was the AL Pitcher of the Month for June and has gone eight straight games with at least 10 strikeouts. Apologies to Chris Archer, Sonny Gray and Dallas Keuchel.
1B - Albert Pujols - Los Angeles Angels
1B - Prince Fielder - Texas Rangers
2B - Brian Dozier - Minnesota Twins
2B - Jose Altuve - Houston Astros
3B - Manny Machado - Baltimore Orioles
OF - Brett Gardner - New York Yankees
OF - J.D. Martinez - Detroit Tigers
OF - Alex Gordon - Kansas City Royals
OF - Josh Reddick - Oakland Athletics
OF - Mookie Betts - Boston Red Sox
C - Stephen Vogt - Oakland Athletics
DH - Alex Rodriguez - New York Yankees
Poor George Springer, who would have been on this list with a wRC+ of 133 and 13 HRs, but will miss the game, and the next two months, with a broken hand. Maybe he and Giancarlo can get together and watch the game at a Buffalo Wild Wings or something.
Yes, I know. A-Rod. He's in. I just want to see how MLB is going to handle it more than anything else. Unfortunately, he bounced my first man out, Mark Teixeira.
No, I'm not going to put another shortstop on the roster. Yes, Jose Iglesias has had a nice season (.324/.378/.387, wRC+ 116), but I needed to find space for the lone Boston player on the ballot, Mookie Betts, and the sole Rangers player on the team, Prince Fielder.
And there was a part of me that wanted to spite all Royals players and keep them out just to get back at their ballot box-stuffing fans, but in truth, many of their players are extremely good and deserve to be there.
SP - Chris Archer - Tampa Bay Rays
SP - Sonny Gray - Oakland Athletics
SP - Dallas Keuchel - Houston Astros
SP - David Price - Detroit Tigers
SP - Felix Hernandez - Seattle Mariners
SP - Michael Pineda - New York Yankees
SP - Corey Kluber - Cleveland Indians
RP - Dellin Betances - New York Yankees
RP - Cody Allen - Cleveland Indians
RP - Zach Britton - Baltimore Orioles
RP - Andrew Miller - New York Yankees
RP - Wade Davis - Kansas City Royals
Thankfully, I think we're past the point where the only relief pitchers who are allowed in the game are closers. New York's Betances and Kansas City's Davis absolutely had to be on the team, they're simply too dominant. Plus, the All-Star Game also has 7th and 8th innings the last time I checked, so they'll work out fine.
Archer, Gray and Keuchel are among the most exciting young starters in the American League, and it's going to be a lot of fun watching them pitch. You add in last year's Cy Young Award winner (Kluber), Seattle's Rodriguez and the Yankees' Pineda, and you're likely to see a lot of strikeouts from the AL staff.
So gang, that's it. I'm sure you'll have some disagreements with me here on this, but that's what the All Star Game is all about, bitching and moaning about someone's arbitrary selections for a scrimmage game that determines home field advantage in the World Series.