The MLB All-Star Game is the only one designed to count for something. For the last decade, baseball's All-Star Game has determined whether the World Series will start in an American League or National League city, regardless of their champions' record. Yet despite the stakes, the starters still only play two or three innings at best, as they found out what order they will temporarily bat in on July 14 -- and who will pitch the first inning or two.
The biggest measure of suspense was whether Adam Wainwright or Clayton Kershaw would start for the National League. Despite Kershaw's recent 41-inning scoreless streak and his widely held status as the best pitcher in baseball, NL and St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny went with his own ace in Wainwright. Nevertheless, Wainwright is 12-4 with an ERA of 1.83, so the pick wasn't completely due to bias.
Matheny knows how important an All-Star Game can be, since the NL's loss in 2013 prevented the Cardinals from having home field against the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, which proved costly. With the Cardinals in the thick of the NL Central race, Matheny has extra incentive to get a win -- yet AL manager John Farrell may not since the Red Sox are in last place.
As for the AL pitching staff, Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez will throw the night's very first pitch. It will be thrown to defending NL MVP Andrew McCutchen, who leads off the batting order followed by Yasiel Puig, Troy Tulowitzki and Paul Goldschmidt. Giancarlo Stanton will serve as the NL DH in the fifth spot, with Aramis Ramirez, Chase Utley, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gomez rounding out the order.
Naturally, the American League has Derek Jeter leading off in his final All-Star Game, as he looks for the same magic Cal Ripken Jr. had when he homered in his last midsummer classic. Mike Trout will follow in second, followed by Robinson Cano, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Bautista, DH Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, Josh Donaldso and Salvador Perez.
While all the buzz centers on the starters, the backups usually make all the difference at the end. In that scenario, Matheny and Farrell's own selections may make an impact that isn't truly felt until three months from now.
The starters still take the field for the 2014 All-Star Game starting at 8 p.m. est on FOX.