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MLB - Reviving the Midsummer Classic

By John J. Roberts
Monday, July 8th, 2002

While sitting enjoying the fact a Major League Baseball player finally admitted using performance-enhancing drugs ... I've stumbled upon an idea whose time has come. Amid the usual hype surrounding the All Star Game, I believe the Midsummer Classic could use a bit of re-tooling. By the way, thanks to Rafael Palmeiro and the people at Viagra for their candor.

In the tradition of the NHL, baseball should strongly consider pitting North America vs. the World for its summer showcase. The accelerating influx of superstar foreign talent to the game -- quite frankly, the best players at nearly all positions arguably are not from a country that calls the game its National Pastime -- begs for a showdown between the chalk lines.

Check out the lineups that could be put together from the players scheduled to hit the field July 9 in Milwaukee. Only a couple of players are out of position to fill out the World team, but their powerful bats more than make up for any defensive liabilities that might result.

World All-Stars

C - Jorge Posado (Yankees, Puerto Rico)
1B - Tony Batista (Orioles, Dominican Republic)
2B - Alfonso Soriano (Yankees, D.R.)
3B - Miguel Tejada (A's, D.R.)
SS - Omar Vizquel (Indians, Venezuela)
OF - Sammy Sosa (Cubs, D.R.)
OF - Vladimir Guerrero (Expos, D.R.)
OF - Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners, Japan)

SP - Pedro Martinez (Red Sox, D.R.)
SP - Odalis Perez (Dodgers, D.R.)
SP - Freddie Garcia (Mariners, Venezuela)
RP - Mariano Rivera (Yankees, Panama)
RP - Kazuhiro Sasaki (Mariners, Japan)
RP - Byung-Hyun Kim (Diamondbacks, South Korea)


OF Manny Ramirez (Red Sox, D.R.); OF Andruw Jones (Braves, Curacao); 2B Jose Vidro (Expos, Puerto Rico); Luis Castillo (Marlins, D.R.)

North American All-Stars

C - Mike Piazza (Mets, USA)
1B - Todd Helton (Rockies, USA)
2B - Junior Spivey (Diamondbacks, USA)
3B - Robin Ventura (Yankees, USA)
SS - Alex Rodriguez (Rangers, USA)
OF - Barry Bonds (Giants, USA)
OF - Shawn Green (Dodgers, USA)
OF - Torii Hunter (Twins, USA)

SP - Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks, USA)
SP - Curt Schilling (Diamondbacks, USA)
SP - Tom Glavine (Braves, USA)
SP - Matt Morris (Cardinals, USA)
SP - Barry Zito (A's, USA)
RP - John Smoltz (Braves, USA)
RP - Eric Gagne (Dodgers, Canada)
RP - Trevor Hoffman (Padres, USA)


OF Luis Gonzalez (Diamondbacks, USA); OF Lance Berkman (Astros, USA); 1B Jason Giambi (Yankees, USA); SS Derek Jeter (Yankees, USA); SS Nomar Garciaparra (Red Sox, USA)

North America has the edge in pitching depth, especially because Pedro Martinez is opting out of the game to rest his tender shoulder. In years to come, as even more stars come from the Far West and the islands, the annual battle would become epic.

Around the Bases

Former Major-Leaguer Pete Gray died Sunday at the age of 87. Gray, who played outfield for the St. Louis Browns, appeared in 77 games during the 1945 season. In his lone season in the bigs, Gray batted .218 with 6 doubles and 2 triples -- with one arm!

New York Mets outfielder Jeromy Burnitz should be ashamed. Burnitz was hitting .216 as of July 2, and he can't seem to hold onto the bat with two hands. Burnitz's recent penchant for flinging his bat into the stands has fans ducking for cover every time he steps to the plate.

I just hope we don't see baseball's equivalent of the Brittanie Cecil tragedy that happened in March in the NHL's Calgary Flames/Columbus Blue Jackets game where the 13-year-old Cecil was hit in the head by a puck and later died.

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