That's it folks. The polls are closed, they're tallying the votes and, on Sunday night, baseball fans across the nation will see their favorite players selected for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game.
A collection of the league's best talent representing their teams and cities can be a truly wonderful sight. The selection show gives fans their first look at the rosters and lineups that may be used to determine which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series.
Here are the start time, television info and a quick preview of the program.
2014 MLB All-Star Selection Show
Date: Sunday, July 6
Start Time: 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
The All-Star Game will take place in AL territory at Target Field, so the National League will have to select a designated hitter.
The best option might be the Miami Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton, ranked fourth in the last All-Star voting results, who leads the National League with 21 home runs and 62 RBI. Carlos Gomez isn't a bad option either, as he's hitting .303 with 13 home runs and 45 RBI.
St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is in charge of the NL roster and told MLB.com's Alex Halsted "they're all under consideration."
Matheny also has a tough choice for starting pitcher. The Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Cueto is 8-6 with a microscopic 1.99 ERA and 130 strikeouts in 131.1 innings. The Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw has come on strong over the past two months; he is 10-2 with a 1.85 ERA and hasn't allowed a run in his last 36 innings pitched.
MLB's Buster Olney notes the league has had little chance against Kershaw since June began:
Might he be able to do the same against the American League's best?
The American League has some notable inconsistencies on its roster that expose the flaws in fan voting. Matt Wieters leads the vote for catchers despite getting shut down for the season to undergo Tommy John surgery.
One of the league's best all-around players, the Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, is a mere fourth in voting at second base. The diminutive second baseman boasts a .342 average, 121 hits and 37 stolen bases. If the fans can't vote him in, one might think Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell can definitely find some use for the dynamo on July 15.
ESPN Stats & Info points out he's coming off a mind-boggling June performance:
This isn't to say the process needs to be completely adjusted. Fan favorites such as Mike Trout, Yasiel Puig, Robinson Cano and Josh Donaldson are right at the forefront of their positional battles and deserve starting nods at the All-Star Game.
The Midsummer Classic has arguably lost some of its luster in recent years. The main draw of the game for several decades was the novelty of watching the American League's best stars take on the top players in the National League. With a preponderance of interleague play, baseball's summer jewel no longer has that special quality.
The game also determines home-field advantage for the World Series, a puzzling decision for an exhibition. This is a problem considering the best players aren't always selected for the game due to fan bias.
There are a few issues to sort out, but the anxieties usually melt away once the talent takes the field and shows that baseball still has plenty of its original charm and beauty.
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