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We're poised on the precipice of the second half, caught between the cold reality of the first half of the season and the limitless potential of the second half. We're ... bored. Seriously, the Triple-A All-Star Game is all we get today? Couldn't the Nationals and Pirates play at least? It's not like their rosters are exactly swamped with All-Star Game obligations.

A practice round from the British Open? A midweek NASCAR race? Give us something.

It's the slowest day in sports, but that does give us the chance to look back and look ahead. We've been surveying SportsNation for the best each team had to offer before the break. Some of these votes are closer than the Minnesota Senate race, but the leaders as of Wednesday morning are as follows:

National League Team MVP
Dodgers: Andre Ethier
Phillies: Raul Ibanez
Giants: Tim Lincecum
Cardinals: Yadier Molina (non-Pujols)
Rockies: Brad Hawpe
Brewers: Prince Fielder
Marlins: Hanley Ramirez
Astros: Miguel Tejada
Cubs: Derrek Lee
Braves: Brian McCann
Reds: Brandon Phillips
Mets: David Wright
Pirates: Freddy Sanchez
Diamondbacks: Dan Haren
Padres: Adrian Gonzalez
Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman

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Fix some instant coffee and toss a Toaster Strudel in the pop-up toaster (don't worry if you cut yourself slicing open the packet; there's penicillin for that). Feel ecologically guilty for spraying aerosol deodorizer to cover the smell when you burn the breakfast and remember to get some change to feed the parking meter.

Just another morning of things you wouldn't have been able to do the last time the Cubs and the guy to the right, Mordecai Brown, won a World Series in 1908.

As suggested earlier, SportsNation was pretty optimistic about the Cubs back in early April. In addition to a top-five ranking after the first week of play, voters said they had the National League's best starting rotation, headlined by Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden and Ted Lilly.

By the end of May, the bandwagon was moving like rush-hour traffic on Michigan Ave., but at least 47 percent still thought the Cubs were playoff material. A month later, with Milton Bradley melting down again, things hadn't improved.

cincy115

i am getting really sick of this management, it's time to be bold. we always save all that money up for when it's time to make a push, and that time is now. with bruce out, we need an outfielder. and i want matt holliday. we need that bat in the order. we also need scott rolen, and we need to dump some salary to make room. i like hanigan over ramon, and hairston over a-gon, so i suggest we trade them. we could also dump a big salary like arroyo because bailey is beginning to dominate.

-- cincy115
cards fan90

Only problem I have about Cubs fans, is them saying the season is over if they lose 2 games in a row and then when they win all of a sudden they are the best again. But that's just passion.

-- cards fan90
yodawar0505

lets hope this brings in some momentum and the bees make a second half run like they always do. seems like the pitching is coming around. just need the bats to be more consistent.

-- yodawar0505
brewerfan54

Gallardo has fought bouts of wildness this year. Overall his numbers are still pretty good and he's still a very good pitcher. Keep in mind he's only in his second full year in the Majors. He kinda has the weight of the world on his shoulders with expectations this year after losing Sheets and Sabbathia. Not to mention he plays for a team who never scores him any runs for him so he's probably trying to be too perfect because he has such little room for error with the lineup hitting behind him.

-- brewerfan54
jaronj86

I would walk pujols everytime unless we were up by 2 with no one on base cause there lineup is not good at all. Every now and then ludwick will have a good game. Its a real credit to larussa the position there in considering there lineup.

-- Jaronj86

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As the saying goes, the more things change, the more the Cubs struggle to find .500. At least, that's how we learned it. And by "we," we mean anyone born since 1909.

With the baseball season pausing for its official midpoint at the All-Star Game and its less official one in the firing of the Nationals manager, consider how SportsNation sized up the field after the first week of the season.

1. Florida Marlins
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Chicago Cubs
4. Atlanta Braves
5. Toronto Blue Jays

At least the Nationals were properly slotted at No. 30. Congrats on getting that gig, Jim Riggleman. Now the Cubs, Marlins and Braves are fighting for wild-card relevancy, hoping a division leader stumbles, and the Blue Jays are listening to offers for Roy Halladay.

j.bertelli

Love the Mariners, Wakamatsu, Fedex, Ichiro, Branyan, Griffey Jr., Aardsma, Branyan, "Gutierez", and everyone who has helped turn this year's team into an entertaining winning club.

-- J.Bertelli
jtrms45

[Jim Tracy] took the Rockies from double-digit games under .500 to Wild Card contenders. Not to mention the fact that the Rockies have the best record in baseball over the span that Tracy has been manager. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, expected the Rockies to be in the position they are now. Thus, Tracy definitely deserves to be National League Manager Of The Year, so far, and it's not really that close.

-- JTRMS45

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When it comes to All-Star selections, Keith Law thinks fans failed like a 24-year-old in Rookie Ball with poor plate discipline (too early on a Monday for sabermetric humor?). Then again, SportsNation's occasionally cantankerous guru thinks managers and players didn't fare much better in picking the reserves and pitchers. But until Law is established as baseball's supreme overlord, we're stuck with the current system.

There are 23 first-time All-Stars this year, including Yadier Molina, the first of the Molina brothers to make an appearance (leaving them just 18 Grand Slam titles and two Super Bowl titles shy of the Williams sisters and Manning brothers). The rookies also run the gamut, from 42-year-old Tim Wakefield to 21-year-old Justin Upton, who was born the year before Wakefield was drafted by the Pirates.

And if that doesn't make you feel old, consider that Tim Wakefield debuted for the Pirates in 1992 on a team that also included pitcher Dennis Lamp, who was born six years before Kevin Bacon.

bkzwhitestrican

pedroia is a great player but based on how he has played this season, he doesn't deserve to start in the all-star game. aaron hill should be starting and kinsler should be the reserve. josh hamilton shouldn't be up there either. adam lind has played phenomenal this season and should at least be a reserve in the outfield. i also think that jered weaver should be there over wakefield. i mean wake is up there in wins, but only because he the sox give him great run support. just look at his numbers, he's pitched mediocre this season.

-- bkzwhitestrican
Captaincompliance

It's an All-Star game, not a best first half stats game. The fans want to see Jeter becase he's the most famous shortstop and a sure Hall of Famer. Fine. They want to see Pedroia because he's the MVP, you silly people. What's wrong with that? They voted for Hamilton because he was THE story of last year's game. Makes sense. The game is for the fans, and they want to see who they want to see. You Fantasy guys just go play your imaginary All-Star game with your make-believe players...

-- Captaincompliance

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We get that it's nice for fans of the Nationals and Pirates to see their team's jersey at the All-Star Game. But instead of actually using a roster spot on someone from one of those teams, even with the addition of yet another roster spot, we have a simple suggestion

Let fans vote to see which actual All Star who would otherwise have been snubbed should wear that team's jersey during the game. Everyone wins. The best players make the game, and for at least one night every year, Pirates fans get to see what it's like to cheer for a real star in the second half of the season.

Not buying it? We're just ahead of our time. In the meantime, Freddy Sanchez or Zach Duke will probably represent the Pirates in St. Louis, but we're asking you to size up which players most deserve to start.

an225

Are they going to expand the mascot and bat-boy/girl rosters, too? What about the All-Star Grounds Crew roster? hahaa...this is pointless.

-- an225
lpstudio2

the flip side of this is a 9 inning affair where half the players don't get into the game. what does that do for the sport?

-- lpstudio2

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