After the mets beat the Marlins in a beanball-laden May 25 game at Shea Stadium, New York manager Bobby Valentine claimed a "double win," noting that his team took a victory and Florida outfielder Cliff Floyd took a John Franco fastball to the elbow. Floyd fired back, calling Valentine "a stupid manager." A few days later Valentine, the National League AU-Star Game skipper, hinted that Floyd's comments might make him less likely to name Floyd to the squad.
As far as SI's concerned, Floyd isn't just an All-Star, he should be in the starting lineup. We'll even take Florida catcher Charles Johnson over the Mets' Mike Piazza for the July 10 game at Seattle's Safeco Field. Fan balloting for the American and National leagues' starting lineups was to conclude at midnight on Saturday. Here are the leading vote-getters as of last Saturday, along with our picks.
?Fans' choice: Piazza, Mets (.261, 19 homers, 43 RBIs)
?SI's choice: Johnson, Marlins (.276, 12, 42)
Johnson's offensive stats are slightly less impressive than Piazza's, but the stability he has brought to Florida's dynamic young staff stands out. He's also a four-time Gold Glove winner, while Piazza, never exceptional defensively, has gotten worse.
?Fans: Todd Helton, Rockies (.331, 25, 81)
Possessor of a textbook stroke, he should be starting in this game for the next 10 to 12 years.