Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City  |  Last updated 7/7/12
KANSAS CITY, Mo. At Kauffman Stadium, 104.7 isn't the frequency of a classic rock station. It's the temperature. Forget that you're going to feel the way an apple turnover does after it's been sitting under a heat lamp for too long. Forget the fact that there are somehow two Chicago Cubs eligible to play in a contest that's going to decide home-field advantage in the World Series. Forget the fact that a retired manager is calling the shots in an All-Star dugout for just the third time since 1933. Forget the fact that this same retired manager, Tony LaRussa, might have an axe to grind with his old National League Central rivals. Toss out all the hype and the crapola and the subplots and the chutzpah. Let it go. When it comes to the 2012 midsummer classic Tuesday night in muggy Missouri (MLB on FOX, 7:30 p.m. ET), only one thing really matters. The same thing that always matters on this stage when they whip out the bunting: Be it October or July, pitching rules. Think about it for a second. The Fighting LaRussas can toss Matt Cain's angry slider at you one inning, followed by the fluttering knuckleball of R.A. Dickey, followed by the ghost pepper stuff of Aroldis Chapman. Fast, slow, wicked fast, good night, drive home safe. You want a piece of that action? As a fan, it promises to be more fun than dropping a box of ferrets down your uncle's pants. As a hitter, though, not so much. The Major League All-Star Game returns to Kansas City for the first time since 1973. A lot has changed in 39 years, but one thing hasn't. It's still a game of aces. The National League is seeking three wins in a row for the first time in 16 years, and history says streaks are made on the mound. Between 1972 and '82, the Senior Circuit won 11 in a row; in eight of those tilts, the American League managed just three runs or fewer. Between 1997 and 2009, the American League went 13 straight contests without a defeat. In seven of those games, the National League scored three runs of fewer. The Junior Circuit won six in a row from 1988-93; during that stretch, the National gang managed more than three runs just once. LaRussa won three of those games as the American League's manager, so he knows the drill. He also knows the stakes. His Cardinals won three of the four 2011 World Series games played at Busch Stadium, including the memorable Games 6 and 7 that cinched the championship. Last fall was the ninth straight time that a home team won a Game 7 in the World Series. Mind you, given the importance of arms in this tilt, some of LaRussa's National League snubs start to look even more curious. Or petty, depending on which side of the Mississippi River you happen to sit. The Senior Circuit is loaded, and that's without the benefit of two of its best hurlers Milwaukee's Zack Greinke, a former Royal, and Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto getting invites to the party. There's history there, most of it unpleasant. Grienke's Brewers got into several verbal scrapes with LaRussa's Cards last summer; before Game 1 of the 2011 NLCS, the Brewers ace accused St. Louis righty Chris Carpenter of having "a phony attitude." When told of the comment, LaRussa quickly rebuked it. Cueto was at the epicenter of an ugly, heated Cardinals-Reds brawl in 2010, leading some Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker chief among them to wonder if LaRussa was still harboring a grudge. During the skirmish, the Reds hurler kicked then-Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue in the head, causing a concussion that ended LaRue's career. "A snub like that looks bad," Baker opined. Darn straight. And it looked worse when LaRussa tried to point the finger back at Baker for scheduling Cueto who takes a 9-5 record and a 2.35 ERA into this weekend to pitch on Sunday, two days before the big game. Surely, the former Cards skipper was aware that the current College Bargaining Agreement has a "Sunday pitcher rule" that allows for an All-Star manager to pick a player who may not be able to participate, declare him an All-Star, even bring him into town, then replace him on the active roster with someone who actually can take the field as scheduled. "I know the rule," LaRussa grumbled to local reporters. That's not water under this bridge. It's bile. Fortunately, there are sunnier storylines, too, once you sift through the muck. Texas skipper Ron Washington is the first African American manager since Cito Gaston in 1993-94 to take charge of back-to-back midsummer classics, although his penchant for loading up on his own players the Rangers will have eight representatives, more than any other club in either league raised a few eyebrows. Atlanta's Chipper Jones will get a farewell All-Star lap before he rides off to the sunset. White Sox slugger Adam Dunn was hitting .160 with nine home runs at this time a year ago; now he's in Kansas City, with 25 long balls under his belt, rolling among the game's elite. And yet the best narrative of all might belong to the Mets' Dickey, a journeyman knuckle-baller who's crafting a career year in New York at age 37, winning 12 of his first 13 starts and allowing fewer than seven hits per nine innings of work. The question is not whether the big Tennessee native deserves the start he does but whether LaRussa feels comfortable in giving him the nod. The N.L.'s starting backstop, San Francisco catcher Buster Posey, told FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi that he's never caught a knuckle-chucker before. Ask Bob Uecker how much fun the butterfly pitch can be, even if you think you know what's coming. Of course, if you're LaRussa, it's a good problem to have. As of July 6, the combined ERA of the American League pitching staff was 2.83. For the National League staff, it was a shade lower: 2.77. Elite arms are eternal. Who has them is cyclical. At its late 90s peak, the American League trotted out Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez at the beginning and Mariano Rivera at the end. All are gone now, or soon will be. At the moment, youth and depth have swung back to the National Leaguers. Of the 13 pitchers tabbed by LaRussa, 10 of the arms are 28 years old or younger. On the American League side, that total drops to six. The average age of an AL pitcher is 28.8; for NL hurlers, it's 27.1. Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is 24. Washington wunderkind Stephen Strasburg is 23. Get a good, long look. After Tuesday, the sweat stains will go away. The kids aren't going anywhere. You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson being investigated for workplace misconduct

WATCH: Gronkowski refuses to discuss suspension, walks out of presser

Cousins complains refs unfairly target him on technicals

FIFA threatens to expel Spain from World Cup

Muhammad Wilkerson not traveling with Jets due to ‘coach’s decision’

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Floyd Mayweather says UFC offered him $1 billion

Porzingis: Knicks fans should show Carmelo ‘love’ in return

Pete Carroll, Sean Payton fined for going onto field

Hot mic catches what LeBron James said to Lonzo Ball

Carlos Santana reportedly signs three-year deal with Phillies

Browns GM: Anything short of competing for division title in 2018 'unacceptable'

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mr. Jones goes to Washington

The 'It's the most wonderful bowl of the year' quiz

NHL Weekender: Bolts keep striking, Preds on the hunt

Chargers are the AFC team no one wants to play in January

Donald Trump's quotes vs. the sports world in 2017

Five MLB teams that should trade for Manny Machado

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Eight NFL teams who simply need to start over

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mr. Jones goes to Washington

NHL Weekender: Bolts keep striking, Preds on the hunt

The 'It's the most wonderful bowl of the year' quiz

Donald Trump's quotes vs. the sports world in 2017

Chargers are the AFC team no one wants to play in January

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker