Regular Articles
The 31-man squads were announced on Sunday by ESPN and here’s my take on the thirty-one players selected.

American League

C Ivan Rodriguez, Tigers 2,537,586 votes
1B Jason Giambi, Yankees 1,784,443
2B Alfonso Soriano, Rangers 3,466,447
3B Alex Rodriguez, Yankees 2,915,901
SS Derek Jeter, Yankees 2,052,880
OF Vladimir Guerrero, Angels 3,024,870
OF Manny Ramirez, Red Sox 2,682,121
OF Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners 1,891,136

>The fans did all right with their selections. I-Rod comes from a large group of viable Catcher, including Javy Lopez (Orioles), Jason Varitek (Red Sox), Victor Martinez (Indians), and Jorge Posada (Yankees). Jason Giambi is a little questionable, but who else can play first in the AL? Alfonso Soriano is probably the best 2B in the AL. Alex Rodriguez should have been shut down by Melvin Mora (Orioles), but he is an all right choice. Derek Jeter should have been replaced by Miguel Tejada (Orioles) or Michael Young (Rangers). Can't go wrong with Vlad, Manny, or Ichiro in the outfield.

Starting pitchers
Mark Mulder, Athletics
Curt Schilling, Red Sox
Tim Hudson, Athletics
C.C. Sabathia, Indians
Kenny Rogers, Rangers
Ted Lilly, Blue Jays
Esteban Loaiza, White Sox

>A surprise to see Loaiza on this roster and not Freddy Garcia (White Sox). Pedro Martinez (Red Sox) might have been a good selection.

Relief pitchers
Mariano Rivera, Yankees
Francisco Rodriguez, Angels
Francisco Cordero, Rangers
Tom Gordon, Yankees
Joe Nathan, Twins

>There were not many guaranteed guys except Rivera, but still pretty good picks by Joe Torre and co.

1B David Ortiz, Red Sox
1B Ken Harvey, Royals
2B Ronnie Belliard, Indians
3B Hank Blalock, Rangers
SS Michael Young, Rangers
SS Miguel Tejada, Orioles
SS Carlos Guillen, Tigers
C Victor Martinez, Indians
OF Carlos Beltran
OF Matt Lawton, Indians
OF Carl Crawford, Devil Rays
OF Gary Sheffield, Yankees

>The bench for the AL team is great, having depth at every position, which should be the case. Ken Harvey has hit well, but his and Ortiz's defense lack, along with starter Jason Giambi's. Ronnie Belliard and Michael Young figure to split time at second, while Carlos Guillen and Tejada replace Jeter in the early innings of the game. The outfield in pretty good, but another OFer to replace Beltran would be a good move, since he is not eligible to play for the AL team, but has been selected.

National League

C Mike Piazza, Mets 2,296,667 votes
1B Albert Pujols, Cardinals 2,649,013
2B Jeff Kent, Astros 2,898,381
3B Scott Rolen, Cardinals 3,187,710
SS Edgar Renteria, Cardinals 2,028,840
OF Barry Bonds, Giants 2,952,237
OF Ken Griffey Jr., Reds 2,837,237
OF Sammy Sosa, Cubs 2,197,255

>The National league voters got one position wrong, shortstop. Jack Wilson (Pirates) was more deserving of representing the NL in Houston. Perhaps Lance Berkman (Astros) should have started over Sosa, but you can't go wrong with either. Not bad having the only 3 - 500 homer guy OF ever.

Starting pitchers
Roger Clemens, Astros
Jason Schmidt, Giants
Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks
Carlos Zambrano, Cubs
Tom Glavine, Mets
Livan Hernandez, Expos
Carl Pavano, Marlins
Ben Sheets, Brewers

>The NL team has power pitchers and softies galore and they are missing two of the best in the league with Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. I'm just wondering where Matt Clement figured in this team.

Relief pitchers
Eric Gagne, Dodgers
Danny Graves, Reds
Armando Benitez, Marlins
Dan Kolb, Brewers

>Eric Gagne for the ninth sounds great (assuming he doesn't blow a save like last year), but who's going to set him up? Not quite the upper class of RP that the NL had last year.

1B Sean Casey, Reds
1B Jim Thome, Phillies
1B Todd Helton, Rockies
2B Mark Loretta, Padres
3B Mike Lowell, Marlins
SS Jack Wilson, Pirates
SS Barry Larkin, Reds
C Johnny Estrada, Braves
OF Lance Berkman, Astros
OF Moises Alou, Cubs
OF Miguel Cabrera, Marlins

>Sean Casey went on the DL today, so that probably opens a spot for someone else on the NL team. Carlos Beltran (Astros) is not eligible, so perhaps John Smoltz (Braves) or Brad Lidge (Astros)? Second base is rather weak, but what would you expect with Jose Vidro (Expos) underperforming and Marcus Giles (Braves) out with a separated shoulder and concussion? Mike Lowell is rather good, but where's Adrian Beltre (Dodgers)? It's great to see Johnny Estrada, AKA the guy traded for Millwood. The outfield is pretty darn good.

The American League "vote for the final guy" ballot has OF Lew Ford (Twins), DH Travis Hafner (Indians), 1B Paul Konerko (White Sox), OF Hideki Matsui (Yankees), and DH Frank Thomas (White Sox). My vote would have to go for Paul Konerko, even though carrying four first basemen seems ludicrous, none of them can field and Konk's been producing pretty well. The National League "vote for the final guy" ballot has OF Bobby Abreu (Phillies), OF Steve Finley (D-Backs), C Jason Kendall (Pirates), OF Juan Pierre (Marlins), and 3B Aramis Ramirez (Cubs). My vote would have to go to Juan Pierre, because this NL team needs a speedster to pinch run and steal, like the Carl Crawford the AL has. Aramis Ramirez is a very close second.

So this figures to be a rather fine game with Joe Torre and Jack McKeon matching wits in Houston. I like McKeon and the National League to finally remove the recent shackles of the American League. Let's go, National League!