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Two Reasons to Love Baseball and Some Prognostication

By Phil Janowicz

SPORTS COLUMNIST

As the term winds down to a close, the boys of summer are just heating up. Unfortunately, most of you won’t be here for me to “Phil” you in every week, so I’ll do my best to prognosticate this year’s all star selection.

There have been tons of surprise players this year with several big names on the DL, such as Derek Jeter, Curt Schilling, Phil Nevin, Robb Nen, and Randy “Ra-Jo” Johnson. The Royals jumped out to an amazing start (am I the only person who called this?) and have cooled off just slightly (thanks to the Red Sox). The Red Sox are tearing up the opposition and are poised to dethrone the perpetually hated Yankees. The Wild Wild West has three teams -- Seattle, Oakland, and Anaheim -- that are loaded with talent and will battle to the finish.

In the National League, the Braves have rebounded from early season woes and are neck and neck with the Phillies and Expos. The Cardinals and Cubs are atop the NL Central and look to create another great rivalry this season. The NL West has the Diamondbacks struggling, and the Giants and Dodgers playing excellent ball so far. Don't let that .500 record fool you.

Jano awards

Batting: Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite hurting his throwing elbow, Pujols has been on fire. The past week alone, he has 9 runs, 4 home runs, 8 RBIs, and a .393 average. I still wonder how he can play left field without making any long throws. And why haven’t other teams hit the ball his way more often?

Honorable mention: Gary Sheffield of the Atlanta Braves. Okay. I hate the Braves. A lot. But Gary Sheffield has been amazing. The past week, he has 6 runs, 2 home runs, 5 RBIs, 3 stolen bases, and a .538 average. This may not sound stellar, but all this is from just three games. I’ve put my hatred of the Braves aside to honor you this week, Gary. I’m glad you’re back.

Pitching: Mark Mulder of the Oakland A’s. Mulder has had a great week with 2 wins, 10 K’s, a 0.50 ERA, and a 0.61 WHIP. He has been virtually unhittable, and his great pitching bodes well for the improving A’s.

Honorable mention: Armando Benitez of the New York Mets. *sigh* I hate you. I really do, but you have been great this week with 2 saves, 2 K’s, a 0.00 ERA, and a 0.46 WHIP. I watched you every time you went to pitch, hoping to see you implode, but you didn’t. My foot is firmly inserted into my mouth.

Utility: Dmitri Young of the Detroit Tigers. Let me set the stage. Young has already gone 4 for 4 with 2 HRs, a single, and a triple. It’s the ninth inning with a guy on first. All he needs is a double for the cycle, and he hits one deep to left field. Melvin Mora can’t catch it, and it’s a base hit. Dmitri Young comes to second base, but plows through to third. In order to help his team, he stretches a double into a triple and breaks the cycle. That has to be the most selfless act I’ve ever seen in baseball, especially for a Detroit Tiger. You, Dmitri, are the reason I love baseball.

Honorable mention: Eric Byrnes of the Oakland A’s. Has anyone else seen this kid play? He’s got long blond hair that sticks out the side of his helmet and always gives it his all. He runs out every pop up and every groundball, hoping to turn it into a base hit. He cheers everyone on and gives them high fives when they do well. I watch Oakland games sometimes just to watch him play. I hope the A’s still let you play when Jermaine Dye comes back from the DL. You are the second reason I love baseball.

Boner of the Week: Kevin Miu. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! I can’t believe you traded me Albert Pujols and Jason Kendall for Scott Rolen! Hahaha!! That has to be the second worst trade in baseball, second only to the guy in the early twentieth century who was traded for seven baseballs. You are truly worse than Armando Benitez.

Honorable mention: Nomar Garciaparra of the Boston Red Sox. I really hate to bring this up, but Nomar reminded me of a former Red Sox player. In the bottom of the 9th in KC on Monday, a routine groundball was hit to Nomar by Brent Mayne. Let’s just say that Bill Buckner flashed into my head when I watched Nomar botch that groundball. It was brutal.

Now, onto my All-Star picks. If I were to make all the All-Star selections, these are the guys I’d pick. Unfortunately, I had to take one person from each team (damn Yankees), and I did pick who was doing best in my eyes. I followed all the rules for All-Star selections, such as 32 guys for each squad, one from each team, 20 position players and 12 pitchers. Here’s what I came up with.

American League All-Stars

C Jorge Posada; Brent Mayne

1B Mike Sweeney; Carlos Delgado.

2B Alfonso Soriano; Jerry Hairston, Jr.

SS Alex Rodriguez; Nomar Garciaparra.

3B Shea Hillenbrand; Hank Blalock.

OF Milton Bradley, Raul Ibanez, Carlos Beltran; Vernon Wells, Carl Everett, Manny Ramirez.

DH Ellis Burks; Edgar Martinez.

Utility position players: Jose Valentin; Garret Anderson.

SP: Pedro Martinez; Barry Zito; Mike Mussina; Runelvys Hernandez; Gil Meche; Mike Maroth.

RP: Mike Macdougal; Lance Carter; Keith Foulke; Johan Santana.

National League All-Stars

C Ivan Rodriguez; Jason Kendall.

1B Todd Helton; Derrek Lee.

2B Jose Vidro; Mark Grudzielanek.

SS Edgar Renteria; Jimmy Rollins.

3B Scott Rolen; Aaron Boone.

OF Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols, Dave Roberts; Gary Sheffield, Preston Wilson, Jim Edmonds.

Utility position players Craig Biggio, Richie Sexson, Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza SP Mark Prior; Jake Peavy; Kerry Wood; Matt Morris; Javier Vazquez; Kevin Brown; Mike Schmidt; RP Eric Gagne; John Smoltz; Scott Williamson; Matt Mantei; Paul Shuey.

Okay, so a bunch of these guys are on my fantasy team or were at one time, but I only pick the best for my team. May you all have great summers, and I leave you with these thoughts. Yankees suck. Go Tribe. Kevin’s a moron.