NAMED Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson made their first All-Star
team in 1990. They would combine for 32 more All-Star selections, including at
least one for 15 consecutive years. This year's game, however, like last
year's, is likely to go on without them--confirmation that baseball belongs to
a new generation. � For further proof, check out my 2006 All-Stars. Eight of
the 20 players have never been selected to an All-Star Game, and four have been
picked only once. Nine are so inexperienced that they've never seen a Yankees
world championship in their big league careers. Thirteen are younger than
Alicia Silverstone, who turns 30 on Oct. 4. � For first-time stars Matt
Holliday, Jonathan Papelbon and Alex Rios, maybe this year will be what 1990
was for Bonds, Griffey and Johnson. Then again, another first-time All-Star, a
25-year-old righthander named Jack Armstrong, was the NL's starting pitcher in
that '90 game. He never made another All-Star team, going 23-52 thereafter.
A 10-game suspension (for punching White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski) and a
sore back could deter him, but Barrett is on pace to exceed 20 homers, 75 RBIs
and a .300 average for the first time.
Mauer (.375) could become the first catcher to lead the major leagues in
hitting since 1875. "The hitting, the leadership, the defense--he's an MVP
package," one AL scout says.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
He led the league in homers (25) and was second in RBIs (65) despite missing 15
games with a pulled muscle. When he was injured on June 3 he had been kept off
base only five times in 53 starts.
NEW YORK YANKEES
With one of the game's best batting eyes, Giambi ranked fourth in the AL in OBP
(.434), and his rates of one homer every 10.5 at bats and 4.5 pitches per plate
appearance would be career bests.
Despite a slim build, the 27-year-old Utley has surprising power (12 homers).
He's also winning fans in high places. Says commissioner Bud Selig, "He
plays the game the way it's supposed to be played."