I’ll admit it — I take the Major League Baseball All-Star Game seriously.
I vote every year. I watch it every year. I watch the Home Run Derby every year.
Heck, I even watch the Celebrity/Legends All-Star game that airs in the wee hours of the morning after the last Sportscenter.
It’s a tradition that started in 1933, and has been a huge part of my summer since I was a youngster.
But along with the voting, the watching, the Home Run Derby, another tradition comes with the Mid-Summer’s Classic — complaining.
It seems every year a player finds their way into a starting position based on name or team alone.
That’s why I vote. I hope my 35 votes can help send people who are deserving to the best All-Star game in professional sports.
Here is who was on my ballot along with who will probably get the starting nod on July 16.
My Pick — Chris Davis, Baltimore. Who will win — Davis.
The Orioles first baseman is on an absolute tear. As of Thursday he has a .327 batting average, 32 home runs and a staggering 83 RBIs.
There is no other pick and at last look it seems like the masses will get this right.
My Pick — Robinson Cano, New York. Who will win — Cano.
As injuries and bad luck piled up in the Bronx, the Yankees are in contention behind the strong play of Cano. He’s also statistically better than all the players he’s competing against.
His only real competition is Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis, who is batting over .300 and has 13 home runs and 54 RBIs.
My Pick — Jhonny Peralta, Detroit. Who will win — J.J. Hardy, Baltimore.
Hardy leads A.L. shortstops in home runs, but he is batting a paltry .256. He’s a perfect example that the public digs the longball.
Peralta is batting .308 and is having a much better season overall than Hardy, but still finds himself behind the Orioles player in the voting.
After years of statistical mediocrity, Peralta is firing on all cylinders this season and should make his second All-Star team.
My Pick — Miguel Cabrera, Detroit. Who will win — Cabrera.
He’s batting .364 has 26 home runs and 83 RBIs. If you don’t vote for him you’re a homer.
He’s the best player in baseball, there is no contest.
My Pick — Joe Mauer, Minnesota. Who will win — Mauer.
He’s the only catcher batting above .300 in the first half of the season. He’s also the best offensive weapon Minnesota has.
In a down season for the Twins, Mauer is one of the few bright spots in Minnesota, hitting in the middle of a lineup that is struggling this season.
He’s also scored 49 times over the season, and has eight home runs and 29 RBIs.
My Picks — Mike Trout, Los Angeles, Jose Bautista, Toronto and Adam Jones, Baltimore. Who will win — Trout, Bautista and Jones.
Simply put, they have the best overall numbers in the league. With Trout and Jones, you have two of the best young outfielders in the game who back it up at the plate, on the basepaths and in the field.
With Bautista, you have one of the best power hitters in the game. With 19 home runs and 50 RBIs he’s helping a midseason turnaround in Toronto.
Coming in fourth right now is Baltimore’s Nick Markakis, and he’s having an average season. His numbers can’t compare to the three leaders at all.
But along with Hardy, catcher Matt Wieters and third baseman Manny Machado, Orioles’ fans are looking to get a strong showing in New York.
My Pick — Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona. Who will win — Joey Votto, Cincinnati.
This one is tough for me to say — but Goldschmidt is having a better season than Votto.
And when you look at the numbers, it’s hard to go against the Diamondbacks first baseman in favor of the former MVP.
The numbers for Votto are great (.323 batting average, 14 home runs, 39 RBIs), but the numbers for Goldschmidt are incredible this season (.301, 20 HR, 69 RBIs).
Second Base — Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati. Who will win — Phillips.
He’s the most productive player on the list. He has 63 RBIs on the season, and has been the perfect definition of a cleanup man on a team that has needed it.
With batting for average, batting for power and fielding ability, Phillips is the best choice at second base.
My Pick — Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado. Who will win — Tulowitzki.
Milwaukee’s Juan Segura is having a great season, but he still doesn’t come close to Tulowitzki’s numbers.
With a .347 batting average, 16 home runs and 51 RBIs. Segura though should get the start if Tulowitzki misses the All-Star game because of an injury.
My Pick — David Wright, New York. Who will win — Wright.
San Francisco is making a push to put Pablo Sandoval in the starting lineup at the hot corner, but Wright is still holding a decent lead in the voting.
Wright’s numbers at the plate speak for themselves (.308 batting average, 13 home runs and 43 RBIs). He’s the best overall third baseman in the game.
Fun fact about Wright — he also has 15 stolen bases, something pretty amazing from a power-hitting third baseman.
My Pick — Yadier Molina, St. Louis. Who will win — Buster Posey, San Francisco.
Molina has the best batting average between the two at a whopping .352.
But Posey is having a decent year, leading the position in RBIs (48), second in home runs (12) and second in average.
But Molina has kept St. Louis in the NL Central race and is the best defensive backstop in the league. He deserves the start behind the plate.
My Picks — Carlos Beltran, St. Louis, Dominic Brown, Philadelphia and Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado. Who will win — Beltran, Justin Upton, Atlanta and Bryce Harper, Washington.
Beltran and Gonzalez have been at the top of the voting list since it’s begun. But so have Harper and Upton.
Gonzalez and Beltran’s numbers have been consistent all year, while Upton and Harper have struggled at times.
With Brown, he’s having an incredible year carrying the Phillies, but stands 15th in voting.
With a .279 batting average, 22 home runs and 60 RBIs, Brown is having one of the best early seasons.
Brown will find his way to the All-Star game, he should be in the starting lineup.
The starters for the 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star game will be announced on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
I’ll admit it — I take the Major League Baseball All-Star Game seriously.
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VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
- Fleming hangs tough to beat Lewis Fleming County locked into another fight against Lewis County, which beat the Panthers earlier this season, before winning 66-58 on Monday in Morehead. Wilder Williams posted a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Panthers, who face Ashland on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
- GALLERY: Ashland gets by Greenup County, will meet Fleming in region final Ashland's Steven Friley scored 21 points Monday to lead the Tomcats to an 81-61 win over Greenup County in the 16th Region semifinal in Morehead.
Kittens clamoring for more at state
Ashland girls basketball coaches went the extra mile, and a whole bunch more, to get a first-hand scouting report on the Kittens’ opponent for the State Tournament.
Head coach Bill Bradley and assistant Phil Wittich drove all the way to Henderson — 5 hours, 20 minutes one way Bradley said on the way home — to take in Sunday’s Second Region championship game.
Henderson County, playing on its home floor, defeated University Heights 67-54. The Lady Colonels went unbeaten in their region this season and are 24-5 overall.
EKC hands out hardware
The Eastern Kentucky Conference handed out its 2014 awards on Monday afternoon at a luncheon at Carter Caves.
Barracudas earn kudos from coach
Ashland Area YMCA swimmers impressed coach Ryan Ferguson from start to finish in the three-day Kentucky Y Competitive Swim League State Meet.
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- VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights