Point/Counterpoint: Who will win the MLB All-Star game?

BY DI STAFF | JULY 10, 2012 6:30 AM

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Two Daily Iowan sports staffers debate who will win tonight's MLB all-star game and therefore gain home field advantage in the World Series in October.

American League

The third time will be the charm for the American League in Kansas City.

The All-Star game has been held in KC twice before, with the National League winning both (5-3 in 1960 and 7-1 in 1973).

But this time, when it counts, the American League will reign supreme.

One major reason is who won't play for the National League. Prince Fielder's jump from the Milwaukee to Detroit in free agency this past off-season means his monstrous left-handed swing will be for the home team in Kauffman Stadium. Fielder crushed the eventual game-winning home run in last year's Mid-Summer Classic, earning game MVP honors for his t3-run blast.

With Fielder's departure, the National League's lineup lacks serious star power when compared with the American League's. Batting orders were announced on Monday, and La Russa chose Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, Cincinnati's Joey Votto, and St. Louis' Carlos Beltran as his 3-4-5 hitters. While those players are beyond respectable, the names don't quite strike the fear that manager Ron Washington's 3-4-5 hitters do: Texas' Josh Hamilton, Toronto's Jose Bautista, and Fielder.

Not to mention Prince won the Home Run Derby on Monday. He hit five and 11 dingers in rounds one and two to make it to the finals. He hit 12 in the last round for a total of 28.

Oh, and do you know who came in second? Bautista.

The American League just has bats that the National League doesn't.
While the Royals may be far from a World Series appearance, American League fans will leave Kauffman Stadium knowing one of their teams will host Game 1 of the World Series.

— by Ben Schuff

National League

The National League will win the 2012 "meaningless exhibition game disguised as a meaningful contest," if only because precedent and experience says so.

It's tough to use statistics for a matchup with a dynamic roster, but consider this about the Midsummer Classic: The game's victorious side has been beginning or ending a considerable winning streak at every game since 1987, which is indicative of each league's talent over year-to-year stretches.

The American League had a six-game winning streak from 1988 to 1993, before the Senior Circuit ripped off a three-year streak of its own. Although the AL dominated from 1997 to 2009 — save for the infamous tie at Miller Field in 2002 that led to the home-field advantage rule — the NL has won the last two contests.

Next, there's the human element. Tony LaRussa will manage his sixth All-Star Game because he helmed the World Series winners, the St. Louis Cardinals, in 2011. AL skipper Ron Washington will manage his second All-Star Game.

LaRussa's coaching never won the exhibition, but there is a tough strategy to managing the players ensuring everyone gets in and at the right times.

And already LaRussa is strategizing by declaring San Francisco Giant ace Matt Cain the starter when many though Met knuckleballer R.A. Dickey would pitch the bottom of the first. It's some gamesmanship, because part of tossing a knuckleball pitcher is the element of surprise. Tonight, hitters don't know when and if they'll face Dickey, instead of the AL's top of the order preparing for the Niekro-knockoff.

Last, look at the MLB races at the halfway point in the season. In the NL, nine of the 16 teams are within 4.5 games of first place in their respective division. In the AL, it's six.

While I doubt whether players will actually play lackadaisically because their team is not in the race, there will always be an extra motivation for those in the race. Especially if the game remains close in later innings, the belief that one could get to the World Series, and subsequently have home field advantage, could be the edge to give the NL its third-straight All-Star victory.

— by Ian Martin

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