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The Early Lead
Posted at 04:50 PM ET, 07/12/2011

MLB All-Star Game 2011 preview: Will lineup attrition limit drama, ratings?


Only one of these two Phillies All-Star aces will be eligible to play in Tuesday’s ‘Midsummer Classic.’ (David J. Phillip - AP)
When fans tune into tonight’s 82nd MLB All-Star Game they’ll watch a number of the league’s top stars take the field representing their respective leagues.

Fans will also see many of the players they voted into the lineup riding the pine pony or missing from the dugout entirely.

In the American League alone two players chosen to by the fans — Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez — and four pitchers selected by the players (including three more Yankees), will not be in action.

In the National League, only one voted starter — Jose Reyes — won’t suit up Tuesday in Phoenix, but Shane Victorino, who won the final vote over Washington Nationals first baseman Michael Morse, among others is also out injured.

The lineup attrition is a troubling trend that has resulted in ballooned rosters and a perceived watering down of a showcase already struggling to retain viewers. Washington Post baseball writer Dave Sheinin put it simply in his Tuesday story: “The very meaning and purpose of the ‘Midsummer Classic’ appear open to interpretation.”

In all 16 players named to their respective league’s teams pulled out of the contest — most due to injuries, but others to rest up for the second half of the season.

So you won’t see the newest member of the 3,000 hits club or fellow pinstripers A-Rod, CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera or David Robertson. Toronto’s Ricky Romero also won’t take the mound and neither will Philadelphia Phillies lefty Cole Hamels — one of several players barred from competing due to a new rule that prevents starting pitchers who pitched the Sunday before the contest from pitching in Tuesday’s game.

“When you come, you want to play,” Hamels said.

The way things are going, it seems like those who want to play can’t, and those who don’t want to play are backing out. Speaking of backs, Red Sox starter Jon Lester was in line to replace injured Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez...until he strained a back muscle that landed him on the DL.

It’s a safe bet the fans also want to see Lee and the rest of the game’s big names battling it out for home field advantage in the World Series.

But when the National is trailing by a run with a runner on second in the bottom of the ninth inning, you’ll be so enthralled you won’t even realize you’re watching Starlin Castro try get the game winning bloop single off Alexi Ogando.

More All-Star Game coverage:

These days, baseball’s all-star game unsure of what it wants to be

Post Sports Live: All-Star Game preview

Player capsules

Robinson Cano wins home run derby with father pitching

Fan nearly falls reaching for home run derby ball

By  |  04:50 PM ET, 07/12/2011

 
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