So I sit down with a pointy pencil and my packet of stats, ready to turn back the clock and vote for the All-Star Game. Old-school style. By actually poking out the little holes next to players' names. A few years ago, this was the only way to do it. Now it just makes you look old and anti-technology.
Anyway, everything was going just fine until I got to American League outfielders.
Nava. Nava. Nava?
Where's Daniel Nava's name?
I posed that question to Nava when he joined "The Rundown" on MLB Network.
"When you're trying to make the team out of Spring Training, they don't assume you'll be going to the All-Star Game," he said.
He also said that it's not a big a deal if he makes the squad, because his Red Sox are playing well. If Nava doesn't get selected by AL manager Jim Leyland, he'll return to his home in California to spend time with his wife. It's likely the last time the couple will get to spend time together before they welcome a baby later this summer.
Let's be clear: Based on his 2013 statistics, he totally deserves to be at Citi Field on July 16th.
His back story isn't too shabby, either. This is a young man who has fought the odds his entire career to make it to the big leagues. Undrafted out of college, Nava started with the Sox organization in 2008 and worked his way up the food chain. Now he's thriving as an everyday player on a first-place club.
Nava enters the weekend in the top five among AL outfielders in many categories including RBIs, batting average and OPS. While earning every penny of his $500,000 contract, he's outperforming other outfielders like Josh Hamilton ($17.4 million) and Torii Hunter ($13 million)
If playing in the All-Star Game is all about performing on the grand stage, then Nava would fit right in. What about the pressure? It doesn't seem to effect him at all. Maybe it's because he never expected to make it to the Majors. It's strange to hear a ballplayer admit that, but his honesty is certainly refreshing.
On June 12, 2010, Nava debuted at Fenway Park. His parents were in the crowd. On the first pitch he saw as a Major Leaguer, he hit a grand slam. You read that correctly. First pitch. Grand slam. Nava recalls that afternoon and says it was a blur. Understandable.
Fast forward to April 20, 2013. Nava comes to the plate in the eighth inning of the first game at Fenway after the Boston Marathon bombings. Following a highly emotional and devastating few days for the folks in New England, Nava thrills the crowd with a three-run, game-winning homer. That home run and Nava's name will live forever in Red Sox lore.
This guy knows all about shining bright when the pressure is on. Come July, he should also know what it feels like to be a Major League All-Star.*****
It doesn't matter where you live or which team you pull for, this latest injury to Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki stinks. It stinks for anyone who enjoys the game at its highest level.
Tulo was enjoying an MVP-type season when he cracked a rib on Thursday night. This is a familiar story for arguably the best shortstop in the league. He's in his seventh year in Majors, but he's only played a full season three times because of groin, wrist, thumb and thigh injuries.
I started thinking of other star players whose careers were routinely altered by injury. It would be a real shame if Tulowitzki never realized his potential and became this generation's version of former Reds great Eric Davis.
In the late 1980s, Davis was the premier player in the National League. He was powerful, fast, explosive and electric, but he could not stay out of the trainer's room. Here's a snapshot of his talent level: In 1986, he hit 27 homers and stole 80 bases while playing in only 132 games. Since 1901, the only other player to come close to those totals was Rickey Henderson. Also in 1986, Henderson knocked 28 homers and stole 87 bases, but he played 153 games.
In a Majors career that spanned 17 seasons, Davis never played more than 135 games in a year. The list of injuries he suffered playing a non-contact sport is truly mind boggling: thigh, wrist, knee, abdomen, shoulder, lower back and trunk. It seems that it would be easier to list the body parts that he did not injure.
In all, Davis was on the disabled list a dozen times. If he had stayed even somewhat healthy, "Eric the Red" would be enshrined in Cooperstown, a place Tulo may wind up one day, if he can somehow stay on the field.
Matt Yallof is the co-host of The Rundown on MLB Network from 2-4 p.m. ET. Follow him on twitter @mattyallofmlb.