Daily Distractions: Clayton Kershaw joins an exclusive group of Dodgers All-Stars.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw became the fourth Dodgers pitcher to appear in three consecutive All-Star Games. (Associated Press)


Clayton Kershaw didn’t start the All-Star Game — Matt Harvey did — though he did join a different exclusive group Tuesday.

Kershaw became the fourth Dodgers pitcher ever to throw in three straight All-Star games. He fared better than the last Dodgers pitcher to do so; Eric Gagné gave up a solo home run in the 2002 game to Alfonso Soriano, allowed three runs in one inning the following year, and tossed a scoreless inning in his final All-Star appearance in 2004.

Fernando Valenzuela pitched two scoreless innings in the 1984 All-Star game, one scoreless inning in relief of Nolan Ryan the following year, then pitched three (!) scoreless innings in his final All-Star appearance in 1986.

Don Newcombe (1949-51) is the other. Like Gagné, his third and final All-Star appearance was the only one in which he didn’t allow a run.

Whit Wyatt, Ralph Branca and Sandy Koufax were all chosen to pitch in three straight All-Star Games or more, but for various reasons did not.

Of course, some were still focused on one Dodger who wasn’t in the game Tuesday.

The American League won the game, 3-0, and will have home-field advantage in the World Series. Mariano Rivera threw a scoreless inning, was named MVP and will be responsible for every baby born today in New York City named “Mariano,” “Mo” or, perhaps, “Sandman.”

Some bullet points for a Slovakian Independence Day:

Continue reading

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly thinks Clayton Kershaw deserves to start the All-Star Game.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is the Dodgers’ lone representative at Tuesday’s All-Star game in New York. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)


Dodgers manager Don Mattingly thinks the pitcher with the majors’ lowest earned-run average deserves to start the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

His opinion, obvious as it may seem, isn’t shared by everyone. That might even include Clayton Kershaw, he of the 1.98 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 5.1 wins above replacement — all of which lead Major League Baseball.

“I don’t know why not,” Mattingly said. “I heard what he said about (New York Mets pitcher Matt) Harvey. That’s classy. That tells you a lot about Clayton. But I feel he’s good enough to be the guy.”
Continue reading

Yasiel Puig loses “Final Vote” to Freddie Freeman.

Yasiel Puig might wind up in a National League uniform at the 2013 All-Star Game next week, but not because the fans voted him in.

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman won the online “Final Vote” Thursday over the popular runner-up Puig, earning an automatic spot on the NL roster. The All-Star Game is next Tuesday at Citi Field in New York.

Freeman was the leading vote-getter among the five National League “Final Vote” candidates after 24 hours of voting, and still led Puig Thursday morning.

Puig is hitting .394/.428/.634 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs in his first 35 games. He was named the National League Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month in June. However, he was not listed on the All-Star ballot and not among the reserves chosen by National League manager Bruce Bochy. That left the “Final Vote” — an online ballot conducted on MLB.com (and Thursday, on Twitter) — as Puig’s last chance to go to Citi Field.

Unless, that is, he is chosen as an injury replacement, which is not entirely unlikely. A year ago, four of the five “Final Vote” candidates played in the game. St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese won the online vote, while Chipper Jones, Michael Bourn and Bryce Harper became injury replacements.

Daily Distractions: Yasiel Puig jersey sales already rank 10th in 2013.

A list of the most popular jersey sales on MLB.com/shop was released today:

1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
2. Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees
3. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
4. David Wright, New York Mets
5. Matt Harvey, New York Mets
6. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
7. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
8. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles
9. Mike Trout, LA Angels of Anaheim
10. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers
11. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers
12. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
13. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox
14. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers
15. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Yasiel PuigIndeed, a player who began the season in Double-A has sold more jerseys than all but nine players through early July.

More on Puig in a bit. Let’s not overlook that Ryu jersey sales rank 11th, only Puig separating Ryu from the buzz-worthy title of “Dodgers rookie sensation.” And that four Dodgers (with the cross-cultural appeal that comes with representing four different ethnic groups) rank among the top 15.

Onto the bullet points:

Continue reading

Daily Distractions: What does it mean if Yasiel Puig loses the “Final Vote”?

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig is second to Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman in the “Final Vote” for the MLB All-Star Game. (Andy Holzman/Staff photographer)

Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig remained second to Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman in the “Final Vote” tally announced Wednesday morning by MLB. A spokesperson for the league told me that there will be no announcements about exact vote totals or margin of separation during the voting period, other than what MLB chooses to release through MLB.com. So that’s all the data we have: Freeman first, Puig second.

As I pointed out in yesterday’s live chat, it’s in the league’s interest that fans feel like they’re a part of the All-Star selection process, while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the product. MLB believes it’s found the right balance. Some, particularly those who feel the game shouldn’t count for home-field advantage in the World Series, will disagree.

Regardless, the winner of the “Final Vote” probably won’t play much in the game if he plays at all. That’s particularly true for Freeman, who must take a number behind three first basemen already selected to the National League roster. So what does it mean if – gasp! – Puig ultimately loses the vote to Freeman?

Does it mean a plurality of baseball fans agree with NL manager Bruce Bochy and others who believe that Puig isn’t experienced enough to be an All-Star?

Does it mean the Braves’ social media team is doing a better job convincing the world to vote for Freeman than the Dodgers are for Puig?

Is it a conspiracy?

We’ll probably never know.

Some bullet points for a Nikola Tesla Day:
Continue reading

Yasiel Puig trails Freddie Freeman in Final Vote count.

More than 33.2 million votes were cast for the final All-Star in each league entering Tuesday, and Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig remained second to Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, according to Major League Baseball’s official vote totals.

Freeman and Puig are still first and second, respectively, among National Leaguers. San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence was third, Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond was fourth and Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was fifth when the day began.

The Dodgers are promoting both Puig and Gonzalez’s candidacies via social media and television advertisements, but Gonzalez has thrown his support behind Puig. So have many fans.

Puig is batting .409/.436/.667 in his first 33 major-league games. His eight home runs rank second on the Dodgers to Gonzalez, despite having played less than half as many games (85 to 33). His five steals are tied for third on the team. His throwing arm from right field has been a weapon that was missing with Andre Ethier the last seven years.

Meanwhile, among fans “Puigmania” has become a thing rivaling Fernandomania and other rookie sensations past. Puig’s jersey sales have set records and his candidacy has sparked some controversy over whether his career is long enough to be considered All-Star worthy this season.

All-Star manager Bruce Bochy would have a ‘hard time picking somebody’ like Yasiel Puig.

Bruce Bochy
Bruce Bochy, the manager of this year’s National League All-Star team, would have a hard time picking Yasiel Puig on the merits of a six-week major-league career.

The San Francisco Giants manager explained why this afternoon on the MLB Network Radio channel on SiriusXM with hosts Jim Bowden and Casey Stern:
Continue reading

Postgame: Brewers 6, Dodgers 3

The Brewers beat the Dodgers 6-3 tonight at Miller Park. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

Dodger starter Jeff Weaver went just 3 1/3 innings in what Joe Torre called his worst outing of the year. Still, Weaver was only charged with two earned runs due to a throwing error by Rafael Furcal in the first.

Although he struck out seven in five innings, Brewers starter Mike Burns definitely wasn’t fooling the Dodgers. Still, he got the job done and three Milwaukee relievers combined to toss four scoreless innings.

No one really shined offensively for the Dodgers, as no player had more than one hit. Only Russell Martin and Orlando Hudson were held hitless.

All three LA runs came in the fifth on back-to-back jacks by Rafael Furcal and Andre Ethier.

ETC…ETC:

Scott Elbert — fresh off a call-up from Albuquerque (with Blake DeWitt being sent down — pitched wonderfully, going 2 2/3 hitless while allowing only one walk.

Jonathan Broxton’s going to miss the All-Star Game with a toe injury.

The Dodgers couldn’t get to Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman this time, as the 41-year-old saved his 20th in 1-2-3 fashion after blowing a save last night.

ON DECK:

The Dodgers attempt to win the series in Milwaukee, sending out lefthander Clayton Kershaw (6-5, 3.27) to face Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo (8-6, 2.95) in an 11:05 AM PST start.