How hard could it be to manage an All-Star team? Just fill out the lineup card and sit back and relax as the team marches to victory. Phil Jackson has made a career out of it.
Turns out, it's pretty hard.
With baseball's All-Star game in Anaheim next week, we decided to run a computer simulation of the game to see who would win. Using the Strat-O-Matic baseball computer game, we ran 100 simulations of the game using the rosters that were announced Sunday.
One of the games that best represented the overall results is re-created below; a reporter guided the National League and the computer managed the American League.
Trying to get as many of the 34 players on the roster into the game while trying to win and secure home-field advantage in the World Series is harder than it looks. And when you play the game on the computer, there are no personalities to deal with — no fans booing because the Angels' Torii Hunter didn't come into the game soon enough — and you have the option of calling the shots while still in your pajamas.
One special rule for this All-Star game: Vin Scully is calling the action in the booth. No Joe Buck, no Joe Morgan, no Chris Berman.
NL starting lineup: Marlon Byrd, CF (replacing injured Jason Heyward); Hanley Ramirez, SS; Albert Pujols, 1B; Ryan Braun, LF; David Wright, 3B; Matt Holliday, DH; Andre Ethier, RF; Martin Prado, 2B; Yadier Molina, C; Roy Halladay, P.
AL starting lineup: Ichiro Suzuki, RF; Derek Jeter, SS; Joe Mauer, C; Justin Morneau, 1B; Evan Longoria, 3B; Vladimir Guerrero, DH; Robinson Cano, 2B; Josh Hamilton, CF; Carl Crawford, LF; Cliff Lee, P.
The AL's starting nine is much better than the NL's. Molina shouldn't even be in the All-Star game, and he's starting. Marlon Byrd? Martin Prado? Really?
Bruce Springsteen sings the national anthem, the Rally Monkey parachutes into the stadium and brings the game ball to the umpire, and we are set to begin.
The first two innings are rather uneventful, with Lee giving up two hits and striking out two and Halladay striking out three.
CC Sabathia of the Yankees comes in to pitch the third inning and the NL comes to life. Molina singles, Byrd walks, Ramirez doubles in a run, Pujols singles in two and suddenly it is 3-0 NL. Clay Buchholz replaces Sabathia, strikes out Braun, walks Wright, gives up a single to Holliday and a sacrifice fly to Ethier (who is booed by Angels fans).
The AL goes down meekly to Tim Lincecum in the bottom of the inning and trails, 4-0, after three.
More substitutions come in the fourth inning, with players such as Chris Young and Ryan Howard coming into the game. In the bottom of the inning, Ubaldo Jimenez takes the mound for the NL and is greeted by a base hit by Mauer. After Morneau flies out to left, Longoria homers to center, pulling the AL within 4-2 as the inning ends.
The game then becomes a pitching duel as the NL tries to shuffle in as many players as possible. Joey Votto (we're going to assume the fans make the right choice this week and vote him in) and Chris Carpenter enter in the fifth inning; Michael Bourn, Brian McCann and Arthur Rhodes enter in the sixth; Jose Reyes, Scott Rolen, Corey Hart, Brandon Phillips and Matt Capps in the seventh; Adrian Gonzalez and Brian Wilson in the eighth.
The hometown crowd gets something to cheer for in the sixth inning, when Hunter comes into the game. The 12 Angels fans who could afford tickets to the game go crazy, as the rest of the Angels' fans sit home wondering which corporation's board of directors is sitting in the seats they usually use.
As we head to the ninth inning, the AL is still trailing, 4-2. Who comes in to close it out for the NL?
The Dodgers' Jonathan Broxton.
Up first, Miguel Cabrera. Broxton blows him away with three fastballs. Alex Rodriguez strikes out looking at a 96-mph fastball on the corner. David Ortiz can't catch up to the high heat. Nine pitches. Three strikeouts.
The NL wins, 4-2. MVP: Pujols. Only players left on the bench for the NL: Yovani Gallardo, Tim Hudson, Omar Infante, Josh Johnson, Evan Meek and Adam Wainwright. For the AL: John Buck, Neftali Feliz, Phil Hughes, Jon Lester, Matt Thornton and Ty Wigginton.
Now there's no reason to play the game for real. And if they do go ahead and decide to play it anyway, you don't need to watch. You know what's going to happen.
The NL's 13-game winless streak is over.