The halfway point of the season is quickly approaching and it's almost time for All-Star Weekend—when players forget their individual teams and try to earn home-field advantage for their league's World Series representative.
The midsummer classic is always entertaining to watch. Whether Ichiro smacks an inside-the-parker or Brad Penny throws 14 straight fastballs to kick it off, we're never disappointed. Unless of course you hail from the National League, in which case you've been disappointed since the turn of the millennium, with the exception of last year.
What's the most fun about the All-Star Game, however, is seeing your favorite players team up and compete with the league's finest. So who will get voted to the AL squad from the Mariners this year?
Ichiro has been an all-star every year since he came to America in 2001. He has also won a Gold Glove and had 200 hits in each of those years. That's why they call him Mr. Consistency—at least that's what I call him.
This year he's having a little bit of a slow start at the plate, but that's not something to be concerned about. It's more than likely that Ichiro could make it to the show based on his reputation alone.
Not just Mariners fans would be devastated if Ichiro missed the cut this year. All-Star Game perennials in the American League have raved about having Ichiro as a teammate—mostly because of his speech (this is probably my favorite article of all time).
The speech, if you can call it that, has motivated guys like David Ortiz to earn a spot on the team year after year.
While that performance certainly motivates guys, Ichiro also contributes on the diamond. He hit the All-Star Game's first and only inside-the-park-home-run in 2007 en route to MVP honors.
An All-Star Game without Ichiro would be like a pleasant Sox-Yankees game—just not right.
This guy has been impressive. Like Rookie of the Year and Cy Young impressive. I feel like I'm talking about him and his dominance all the time, but just to solidify in your minds how much havoc he wreaks: 9.4 K/9 ratio, 3.47 K/BB ratio, .248 BABIP and a 6-2 record.
We can definitely expect to see Pineda on AL manager Ron Washington's pitching staff come July. Since Pineda has shown his ability to throw hard for up to seven innings at a time, he should easily be able to power through one or two innings, probably with a series of fastballs in the upper-90s low-100s.
The Padres are the only NL team to have caught a glimpse of this beast (seven innings of two-hit, nine-strikeout baseball), and they'll be sure to warn their teammates of the impending peril.
I think can speak on behalf of most Mariner fans, I'd be thrilled to see Pineda pitch between some of the American League's finest as a representative of Seattle.
Franklin "Death of Flying Things" Gutierrez came back late this year, but as you can see in this video, he came back ready to play.
He is renowned as one of the top outfielders in the league in terms of defense, and his bat isn't too bad either. This pick is more of a stretch, but we've been surprised before. We could see Guti playing as a player-elected reserve, maybe coming in for an at-bat near the end of the game.
We might even see a repeat of Torii Hunter's robbery of Barry Bonds in 2002 with, say, Guti and Pujols?
(Note: even after having been robbed several times by Torii Hunter, Bonds still gives money to good causes like the college funds of Bryan Stow's kids. Maybe he is a good guy after all.)
The Mariners' pitching has been really great this year. So good, in fact, that we could see up to four of their starters in this year's midsummer classic: Pineda, King Felix, Larry Bernandez, and Jerry. It would be an ASG first.
But seriously, last year's AL Cy Young winner is basically guaranteed a spot and an inning or two in this year's game. He continues to cope with the struggles of being a Mariner and continues to throw up sovereign numbers.
The question is, how many National League stars can he embarrass?
Where did this guy come from? Have you seen him pitch? Have you seen his stats? He's definitely all-star worthy, even if he doesn't get selected by his leaguemates.
Just look at his line: 4-0 W-L, 0.84 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 4.0 K/BB and a 1.4 WAR. The WAR, especially, puts Pauley among the elite relievers in the game. But look at the rest! No one can hit this guy.
It's certainly feasible to say that Pauley has had a big part in the Mariners' success this season. Along with Aaron Laffey and the sometimes-stellar Brandon League, he's kept the seventh, eighth and ninth frames empty in the majority of games.
There probably won't be time for him in the All-Star Game, since Felix, Larry and Jerry will most likely chew up seven or eight innings, but we don't want to share Pauley anyway.