There's a Final Vote for the last two all-stars, and while all of the choices are legitimately guys who should or could be all-stars, I'm going to go ahead and say that I'm fully behind voting in Pat Neshek, even though my Fighters pride says I should be behind Hideki Okajima. Why? Because Pat Neshek is really goddamn cool. As he put it:
"I really don't know how to describe this, but I'm the fan/collector/guy that somehow managed to get to the big leagues. I seriously wake up each day and can't believe how I got here and am thankful to even touch the uniform! Basically if I wasn't playing baseball right now I would probably be the guy who was coming home from work and planning a night around baseball... planning what games to go to, which minor league teams to get autographs at, which guy to take on my fantasy team and which guy to trade in MLB The Show... heck this is what I do in the off-season, no lie! Basically I'm a fan of baseball, if your team wasn't represented in this final 5 Vote I would love to represent you and all the fans of the game. I can tell you right now that nobody in the world, no other player would appreciate this more than me. So if you want somebody that is a fan of the game, a guy just like you, a guy that would probably pass out if elected to the ALL STAR game then you can help me out by voting here!"
And if that wasn't enough, Pat had a contest for someone to make YouTube videos advertising his campaign, and one of the guys on his forum made this parody song for the campaign, which is awesome. I'm the queen of baseball parody lyrics, dammit, so if I say it's good, it's good. Go vote for Pat.
Now, on to some not-so-starry all-starness. The fan voting results are in for the NPB All-Star game, and it's completely retarded in the Pacific League. Now, I'm all for cheering for the Rakuten Golden Eagles because they're the crazy underdogs -- it's like being a closet Mets fan back in the mid-1960's -- but EIGHT ALL-STARS? WHAT?
Central League Pacific League
SP Hiroki Kuroda (HC) Masahiro Tanaka (TRGE)
RP Masanori Hayashi (YG) Akira Matsumoto (TRGE)
CL Kyuji Fujikawa (HT) Kazuo Fukumori (TRGE)
C Shinnosuke Abe (YG) Motohiro Shima (TRGE)
1B Kenta Kurihara (HC) Nobuhiko Matsunaka (FSH)
2B Toshihisa Nishi (YBS) Yosuke Takahasu (TRGE)
3B Michihiro Ogasawara (YG) Hiroki Kokubo (FSH)
SS Hirokazu Ibata (CD) Munenori Kawasaki (FSH)
OF Tomonori Maeda (HC) Koichi Isobe (TRGE)
OF Norichika Aoki (YS) Teppei Tsuchiya (TRGE)
OF Kosuke Fukudome (CD) Tuffy Rhodes (OB)
DH Takeshi Yamasaki (TRGE)
Now I mean, there are a few bones I could pick with the CL -- Hisanori Takahashi is by far the best starting pitcher in the CL so far this year, but he only finished 5th in the voting, even behind his teammate Tetsuya Utsumi. I like Kenta Kurihara, but Tyrone Woods is a monster. I'm bitter about Ogasawara, of course, but as usual he's fully deserving of an all-star spot. Hirokazu Ibata is the best shortstop in Japan, so no complaints there. I'm amused that Tomoaki Kanemoto didn't place in the top 3 in CL outfielders, but since the rest of the top ten in voting are Kanemoto, Yoshinobu Takahashi, Tani, Morino (!!!!!), Akahoshi, and Alex Ramirez, I'll let it slide. I can't imagine that the rest of those guys don't end up on the roster.
You may notice that I actually listed only 6 more for the top ten, and that's because there's one outlier that doesn't really make sense -- Koichi Ogata, who's been on the DL for the last month or so, and wasn't doing so well before that. Maybe someone's stuffing the ballots for both Rakuten and Hiroshima?
The most obvious of the "WTF" choices for Rakuten are catcher Motohiro Shima (currently batting .168 and not all that great at calling a game; Lotte's Tomoya Satozaki is still the best catcher in the PL), and middle reliever Akira Matsumoto (currently with an ERA of 6.10 and has walked 14 guys and struck out 17 in 28 innings; the Fighters' Hisashi Takeda IS the best setup man in the PL (1.96 ERA, 31 K, 11 BB, 41 IP, 4-2 with 2 saves). Those are the awful choices. The "Err, OKAY" choices would be Isobe and Teppei in the outfield over Tamura and Hichori, and to be fair, much as I hate to say it since I like him, Kazuo Fukumori as closer over the unreal Takahiro Mahara, who has been just plain fantastic this year as the Hawks' closer. I mean, the guy's converted all 22 of his save chances and has allowed ONE EARNED RUN in 27 games (32 IP). I thought he was amazing last year and he's gotten even better this year.
I'm not going to comment on Masahiro Tanaka. I don't have a problem with him getting the popular vote, a la Matsuzaka, and he's been pretty damn good for an 18-year-old kid. I also have no problem with Takeshi Yamasaki getting the DH vote because he's been an absolute monster this year. But the rest of the Eagles? Uhhh, no.
Fortunately, I'm pretty sure that most of the rest of the guys who deserve to be all-stars will get chosen for it by the managers and all. But this is just seriously seriously screwed up.