Although meant to honor and bring baseball's best together, the MLB All-Star Game instead welcomes a sea of negativity and resentment.
Too often fans and analysts get caught decrying the biggest omissions rather than praising the deserving selections. After all, this is a game that foolishly counts. With the stakes so high, it stinks to see Clayton Kershaw, Joey Votto and Brian Dozier left out.
Yet there are several other feel-good stories to instead celebrate. Some have blossomed before our eyes. Others have overcome injuries, and one has enjoyed an incredible bounce-back campaign to possibly conclude his career.
After running through the full 2015 rosters and viewing info, let's single out a few of those heartwarming stories.
Date: Tuesday, July 14
Where: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
Time (ET): 7 p.m.
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
American League Roster
|C||Salvador Perez||Kansas City Royals|
|1B||Miguel Cabrera (Injured)||Detroit Tigers|
|2B||Jose Altuve||Houston Astros|
|3B||Josh Donaldson||Toronto Blue Jays|
|SS||Alcides Escobar||Kansas City Royals|
|OF||Mike Trout||Los Angeles Angels|
|OF||Lorenzo Cain||Kansas City Royals|
|OF||Alex Gordon (Injured)||Kansas City Royals|
|DH||Nelson Cruz||Seattle Mariners|
|C||Russell Martin||Toronto Blue Jays|
|C||Stephen Vogt||Oakland Athletics|
|1B||Albert Pujols (Starting for Cabrera)||Los Angeles Angels|
|1B||Mark Teixeira||New York Yankees|
|2B||Brock Holt||Boston Red Sox|
|2B||Jason Kipnis||Cleveland Indians|
|SS||Jose Iglesias||Detroit Tigers|
|3B||Manny Machado||Baltimore Orioles|
|3B||Mike Moustakas (Final Vote)||Kansas City Royals|
|OF||Jose Bautista||Toronto Blue Jays|
|OF||Brett Gardner (Replacing Gordon)||New York Yankees|
|OF||Adam Jones||Baltimore Orioles|
|OF||J.D. Martinez||Detroit Tigers|
|DH||Prince Fielder||Texas Rangers|
|SP||Chris Archer||Tampa Bay Rays|
|SP||Sonny Gray||Oakland Athletics|
|SP||Felix Hernandez||Seattle Mariners|
|SP||Dallas Keuchel||Houston Astros|
|SP||David Price||Detroit Tigers|
|SP||Chris Sale||Chicago White Sox|
|RP||Dellin Betances||New York Yankees|
|RP||Brad Boxberger||Tampa Bay Rays|
|RP||Zach Britton||Baltimore Orioles|
|RP||Wade Davis||Kansas City Royals|
|RP||Kelvin Herrera||Kansas City Royals|
|RP||Darren O'Day||Baltimore Orioles|
|RP||Glen Perkins||Minnesota Twins|
National League Roster
|C||Buster Posey||San Francisco Giants|
|1B||Paul Goldschmidt||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|2B||Dee Gordon||Miami Marlins|
|3B||Todd Frazier||Cincinnati Reds|
|SS||Jhonny Peralta||St. Louis Cardinals|
|OF||Bryce Harper||Washington Nationals|
|OF||Giancarlo Stanton (Injured)||Miami Marlins|
|OF||Matt Holliday||St. Louis Cardinals|
|C||Yadier Molina||St. Louis Cardinals|
|C||Yasmani Grandal||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|1B||Anthony Rizzo||Chicago Cubs|
|1B||Adrian Gonzalez||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|2B||DJ LeMahieu||Colorado Rockies|
|2B||Joe Panik||San Francisco Giants|
|SS||Brandon Crawford||San Francisco Giants|
|3B||Nolan Arenado||Colorado Rockies|
|3B||Kris Bryant||Chicago Cubs|
|OF||*Andrew McCutchen (Starting for Stanton)||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|OF||Joc Pederson||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|OF||A.J. Pollock||Arizona Diamondbacks|
|OF||Justin Upton||San Diego Padres|
|SP||Max Scherzer||Washington Nationals|
|SP||Gerrit Cole||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|SP||Zack Greinke||Los Angeles Dodgers|
|SP||Shelby Miller||Atlanta Braves|
|SP||Jacob deGrom||New York Mets|
|SP||Madison Bumgarner||San Francisco Giants|
|SP||Michael Wacha||St. Louis Cardinals|
|SP||A.J. Burnett||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|SP||Carlos Martinez (Final Vote)||St. Louis Cardinals|
|RP||Trevor Rosenthal||St. Louis Cardinals|
|RP||Mark Melancon||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|RP||Aroldis Chapman||Cincinnati Reds|
|RP||Jonathan Papelbon||Philadelphia Phillies|
|RP||Francisco Rodriguez||Milwaukee Brewers|
A.J. Burnett, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
A 38-year-old pitcher who considered retirement after a dreadful 2014, A.J. Burnett will make his first and final All-Star appearance.
After taking less money to reunite with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he stated his intentions on ending a career he began in 1999.
“The past couple of years, it was year by year,” Burnett told Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal in February. “I thought about (retiring) a few years ago in New York. But now this is it. This is my last hurrah. I’m cool with that."
A year after weaving a 4.59 ERA with the Philadelphia Phillies, the veteran righty has registered a 1.99 ERA through 113 innings for Pittsburgh. Even with a diminished 94 strikeouts, he has performed better than ever due to a 54.4 ground-ball percentage and career-low 2.39 walks per nine innings.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, via ESPN.com, Burnett can become the fifth starting pitcher aged 38 or older to enter the break with an ERA below 2.00. To join Roger Clemens, Phil Niekro, Spud Chandler and Dutch Leonard, he'll need a strong showing against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
Prince Fielder, 1B, Texas Rangers
Before undergoing season-ending neck surgery last year, Prince Fielder had not missed a game from 2011-13. The slugger went from playing all but one contest in five years to sitting out 120 bouts.
Even before succumbing to his first serious injury, the feared first baseman recorded a microscopic .360 slugging percentage in 2014. The Texas Rangers had no idea what to expect from a big-bodied 31-year-old under contract for six more seasons.
To their relief, they've received the Fielder of old. Serving primarily as the designated hitter, he's batting .345/.409/.530 with 14 homers. He's not exactly the guy who once belted 50 long balls, but he is pulling the ball less in hopes of remaining relevant once his strength wanes.
Although his rebound is fueled more by contact than power, Fielder will also participate in the Home Run Derby, per the team's Twitter page:
Everyone can blame/thank Fielder for blocking Alex Rodriguez from the American League roster. Two designated hitters is more than enough for a game operating under National League rules.
Joe Panik, 2B, and Brandon Crawford, SS, San Francisco Giants
Here's a look at how the San Francisco Giants middle-infield pairing of Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford performed last season:
|Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford (2014)|
Now let's fast-forward to the present day, where both are All-Star reserves:
|Panik and Crawford (2015)|
Granted, Panik received a helping hand from Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who made the second baseman one of his final selections. Yet it was hardly a charity case to choose a player leading the NL in WAR at his position.
Possessing the power to match his stellar glove, Crawford also should have received more recognition from the fans. Only Troy Tulowitzki—whose gripe in being left off the roster belongs with teammate DJ LeMahieu—holds a higher slugging percentage among shortstops.
He didn't make the cut, but Matt Duffy has also defied all reasonable expectations at third base. A bunch of supposedly light-hitting infielders are carrying the defending champion's offense with Hunter Pence sidelined.
Note: Advanced stats are courtesy of FanGraphs.