Beyond Golf — 01 July 2012 by Jim Street
Fans hit a HR in All-Star vote

Fans have voiced their opinions via Internet voting and selected the starting lineups for the 83rd All-Star Game. Nice job, people.

The who’s who in Major League Baseball this season will soon be heading to Kansas City for the Midsummer Classic on July 10. It will be the third time in KC history that it has hosted the All-Star Game, the first occurring in 1960, when the Athletics were in KC, and again in 1973, just four months after Royals (now Kauffman) Stadium opened.

I attended that game and what I remember the most was a civic leader at the time insisting that Kansas City was not a “cow town”.  He kept repeating it, over and over again until just about everyone was calling it a “cow town.”

As part of the festivities (no home run derby back then) surviving members of the first All-Star Game – 1933 – attended. The list included Carl Hubbell, Bill Hallahan, Lefty Gomez, Dick Bartell, Lefty Grove, Joe Cronin, Jimmie Dykes and Charlie Gehinger.

The National League, led by MVP Bobby Bonds of the Giants, won the game, 7-1. The NL started a lineup that included five future Hall of Fame players: Johnny Bench, Hank Aaron, Joe Morgan, Ron Santo and Billy Williams. If Pete Rose hadn’t bet on baseball games during his managerial career with the Reds, he would have made it six.

The NL pitching staff included Tom Seaver and Don Sutton, now enshrined in Cooperstown. Willie Mays and Willie Stargell, also HOF-bound, were among the NL reserves.

The American League also had some HOF star power. Carlton Fisk, Rod Carew, Brooks Robinson and Reggie Jackson were in the starting lineup. The pitching staff included Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Bert Blyleven and Nolan Ryan. Carl Yastrzemski was a reserve.

The late Dick Williams and Sparky Anderson were the respective managers and both are in the HOF.

I wonder if, 39 years from now, anyone will look back and count the Hall of Fame players on the teams that will play the 83rd All-Star Game in the middle of America.

The sure-things: Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter already has a foot and four toes in the door at Cooperstown as he prepares to make his 13th All-Star Game appearance. Teammate and DP sidekick Robinson Cano is a four-time All-Star and, health willing, will someday join Jeter in Cooperstown. Joey Votto is the closest thing to a sure-thing HOF player in the NL’s starting lineup and he still has a ways to go.

The maybes: Red Sox DH David Ortiz has assembled HOF numbers, but as former DH-supreme Edgar Martinez will tell you, there are a whole lot of HOF voters reluctant to cast votes for a guy who spent most of his career as the DH. That’s a foolish stance, for sure, but very apparent each time votes are cast.  Prince Fielder is, in my opinion, halfway to serious HOF consideration. Another good possibility is Yankees’ left-hander CC Sabathia.

The wait-and-sees: Start with RHP Stephen Strasburg, who has all it takes to be one of the finest pitchers of all-time. Mets 3B David Wright has assembled some impressive numbers and is a six-time All-Star. Josh Hamilton has been a late bloomer for the Rangers, but if he can healthy (and out of off-the-field trouble) he has HOF caliber talent. Tigers RHP Justin Verlander seems to be in the right place for future success, which might not be the case for Mariners RH Felix Hernandez.

One thing is certain: NL skipper Tony LaRussa, now retired, is a lock to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. That’s a no-brainer, but I’m still not sure about Ron Washington, the Rangers manager making his second straight All-Star Game appearance. I like his style and his team. But, HOF?

As always, I’m looking forward to watching the All-Star Game on TV — with a hot dog in one hand and a Bud Light in the other.

Here are the rosters for the respective teams, pending the result of the Final Vote.

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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