Check out the complete All-Star rosters

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Check out the complete All-Star rosters

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Josh Hamilton is set to lead a Texas parade to the All-Star game. Now, fans will decide if Chipper Jones gets one final appearance or whether it's time for teen sensation Bryce Harper. Hamilton drew a record total of more than 11 million votes, and the slugger was among seven Rangers chosen Sunday as All-Stars. A trio of San Francisco Giants rallied in the last week to claim spots, while three Yankees also made the starting lineup. "I don't think the Texas Rangers have to apologize because we've got good players," AL manager Ron Washington of Texas said. "I certainly didn't pick my guys being selfish, I picked them very deserving of being All-Stars, bottom line." Washington fastballer Stephen Strasburg and Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey were two of the 66 players chosen by fans, managers and big leaguers for the showcase July 10 in Kansas City. So was 20-year-old Angels rookie outfielder Mike Trout, who leads the AL in hitting at .339 and drew more than 800,000 write-in votes. Few of the races for starting spots were close and there seemed to be little complaining about the fans' choices. OK, sure, David Wright could've gotten the nod over Pablo Sandoval. But there certainly will be campaigning this week when it comes to Jones and Harper after they were left off -- for now, anyway. The NL and AL each have one spot left, with fans voting online through Thursday to select one of five candidates in both leagues. Jones and Harper are two of the NL possibilities. At 40, Jones is a seven-time All-Star and plans to retire after this season. Banged up, the Atlanta third baseman has managed to hit near .300. "This being my last year, it would be fun to go. I'd love to take my kids," Jones said. At 19, Harper started the season in Triple-A. The Washington outfielder has dazzled since his promotion with his bat, arm and flat-out hustle. "I'm an old-timer, so I'd probably lean toward Chipper," NL manager Tony La Russa said on the TBS selection show. The league that wins the All-Star game gains home-field advantage in the World Series. The NL won last year, then St. Louis became the ninth straight home team to win Game 7 in the Series. Sandoval was picked for the NL at third base despite missing a month with a broken hand and not matching the stats of Wright. "I'm surprised I made it," said Sandoval, popular for his "Kung Fu Panda" persona. "He's been having a great year but the fans gave me the votes. I can't thank them enough." Wright was diplomatic about the result. "That's the way the system is. I understand how the system works and I respect that system. Pablo's having a very good year. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed that I don't get a chance to start, but I'm going to do everything I can to help win that game," he said. Giants catcher Buster Posey, back from a devastating injury last season, was the NL's top vote-getter and beat out Philadelphia's Carlos Ruiz, the league's leading hitter. Wright and Ruiz made the NL team as reserves. "This is hard to wrap my head around," Posey said. "I watched all the All-Star games and home run derbies when I was a kid. It's surreal I get to play in one and get to watch the home run derby." Posey, Sandoval and San Francisco outfielder Melky Cabrera overcame late deficits to win starting spots. Giants ace Matt Cain, who pitched a perfect game in June, made the NL pitching staff. Texas will have a team-record three starters. Hamilton, who hit four homers in a game earlier this season and leads the majors in RBIs, will be in the outfield with Adrian Beltre at third base and Mike Napoli at catcher. A postseason star last year, Napoli has started only about half the time at that spot this year, but still easily outdistanced Minnesota's Joe Mauer. "No, it's not awkward, the fans voted for him," Washington said. "He's an All-Star, he's going to go to the All-Star game. Who's to say that Napoli may not be the MVP?" Second baseman Ian Kinsler, shortstop Elvis Andrus, starter Matt Harrison and reliever Joe Nathan also made the AL roster from Texas. The two-time AL champions began the day with a major league-best 50 wins. "You look up and down our lineup and we've been in the World Series the last two years in a row, and there's a reason," Hamilton said. "It's not just one player, but multiple players that have got us there." Derek Jeter became a 13-time All-Star shortstop and will start for the AL with Yankees teammates Robinson Cano at second base and Curtis Granderson in the outfield. Injured New York pitcher CC Sabathia was picked, too, and will attend the festivities but not play. "It's an honor, especially throughout the years the position I played and all the great shortstops that have been out there," Jeter said. Prince Fielder of Detroit will start at first base. He was the MVP of last year's All-Star game while playing in the NL for Milwaukee. "Thrilling, every time," Fielder said. Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp edged Milwaukee's Ryan Braun by 100,000 votes for the third spot in the NL outfield -- Kemp, beaten out by Braun for the NL MVP award last year, is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring and looks doubtful to play. Braun leads the NL in home runs. He was the league's top vote-getter last year, but may have been hurt by drug allegations. Braun or perhaps Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen could wind up starting in Kemp's place. "I've always been a person that wanted something because I earned it and that's what people wanted," McCutchen said. "It would be awesome to get that, but for me I'd still be feeling like I took someone else's place because someone got hurt." Dickey, at 37, made his first All-Star team. He leads the majors with 12 wins and could become just the second knuckleballer to start an All-Star game. Dutch Leonard did it in 1943, STATS LLC said. "It's an honor for every person who's ever helped me along the way and every fan that believed that special things could happen if you apply yourself," Dickey said. "So it's a need to be able to celebrate that with a network of people. Strasburg is 9-3 with a 2.81 ERA and tops the majors in strikeouts for the NL East-leading Nationals. Last season at this time, he was working his way back to the big leagues while recovering from Tommy John surgery. "It's going to be a tremendous experience, and it's a huge honor for me. It's amazing to think where I was a year ago, so it's great to see all the hard work has paid off, but it's not done," he said in Atlanta. "It's only the halfway point of the year. We've still got a long ways to go." The fans, players and managers combined to pick 14 first-time All-Stars in the NL, including somersaulting Cincinnati reliever Aroldis Chapman and San Diego closer Huston Street. "No way. Really?" Street said. There were nine first-timers in the AL, including designated hitter Billy Butler from the host Royals. Every team gets at least one All-Star. The AL starters: Fielder, Cano, Jeter, Beltre, Hamilton, Granderson, Napoli, Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista and Boston DH David Ortiz. The NL starters: Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto, Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla, shortstop Rafael Furcal and outfielder Carlos Beltran of St. Louis, Kemp, Sandoval, Posey and Cabrera. The five candidates for the final AL roster spot are all right-handed pitchers: Texas rookie Yu Darvish and fellow starters Jake Peavy of the White Sox and Jason Hammel of Baltimore and relievers Jonathan Broxton of the Royals and Ernesto Frieri of the Angels. The NL candidates: Jones, Harper, Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill, Atlanta outfielder Michael Bourn and St. Louis third baseman David Freese, MVP of last year's World Series. Washington said he felt White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski deserved to be on the roster. "I consider him a winning player," Washington said. "He beats you mentally, he beats you physically, so I feel really bad for Pierzynski." Said Pierzynski: "If he felt that bad, he would have put me on the team." "He had an opportunity to do it. He didn't do it," he said.

Bears Grades: Offense ignites to end 1st half, puts up season-high points vs. Niners

Bears Grades: Offense ignites to end 1st half, puts up season-high points vs. Niners

With less than 2 minutes to play in the first half the Bears had gained a total of 45 yards, and had zero pass completions (2 attempts) and zero points . By the end of the half they had 115 yards, Matt Barkley had completed 4 of his last 6 passes and the Bears adjourned for halftime with a 7-6 lead.

For the second straight week Barkley engineered a comeback, this time for a win, and running a two-minute offense that, curiously perhaps for an inexperienced quarterback, seems to suit Barkley even more than the offense run a normal speed. More than one player said that 70-yard drive to finish the first half was a tipping point, on all sides of the football.

The turning point “was that two-minute right before the half,” said right tackle Bobby Massie. “Everybody just executed, did what we needed to do and drove right down the field. Then we come out after the half and drove right down again. It was good.”

More than just good for the offense. “I think that really spurred both sides of the ball to be motivated to finish the game strong,” said Barkley, who got the Bears into the end zone twice in last Sunday’s Tennessee game, and nearly a third, within the final 10 minutes, running 35 plays over the span of those minutes.”

This time the result was the highest point total (26) this season and scores on four out of five possessions beginning with that hurry-up score to end the half.

Quarterback: A-

Once again Barkley was beset by dropped passes, although nowhere near the avalanche of them that defeated him against the Tennessee Titans. Barkley shook off the conditions and poor start to complete 4 of 6 passes on the final drive of the half, for 64 yards – the entire passing production for the half.

Barkley followed a shaky first half with a solid second, completing 7 of 10 passes for 128 yards and zero interceptions, a significant key with the 49ers unable to do much of anything against the Bears defense. Barkley effectively convinced coaches that he could operate in the adverse conditions with passing and not simply handing off to Jordan Howard.

“I thought [the way] he handled the two-minute drive before the half, we had to open it up some and throw the ball,” said coach John Fox. “I thought he executed outstanding.”

Barkley finished with 11-of-18 passing for 192 yards, no touchdowns but no interceptions and a passer rating of 97.5.

Running back: A+

In a game that demanded effective rushing, Jordan Howard delivered a statement game, his fifth in the last eight with 100 rushing yards and 115 total yards of offense.

Howard rushed for 3 touchdowns, giving him five on the year, and carried 32 times, an average of 3.7 that belies the overall, which involved the chemistry of the run game, now averaging 4.4 yards on the season . “He’s fun, man,” said guard Eric Kush. “We block our butts off to try to give him something. Even if it’s not the prettiest block, we try to finish our blocks and give him a chance.”

Howard displayed power inside as well as burst on the Bears’ outside-zone runs that exploited the San Francisco edges. He carried 10 times in the first half, then 22 in the second.

“I’m definitely ready to be that workhorse,” said Howard, who now has 883 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns despite not starting until game four. “Even though they might know the run is coming, they still have to stop it.”

Receivers: B+

Josh Bellamy, replaced in the starting lineup by Deonte Thompson after his drop-laced game against Tennessee, had perhaps one the streakiest game of the Bears year. Bellamy again suffered with drops that included lost TD catches, but Bellamy rebounded to match his career-best 4 catches against Tennessee but with 93 yards and a long of 31 and others of 24, 22 and 16 yards. Bellamy also was handed the ball on an end-around for 12 yards.

All of this despite two egregious drops, one of a potential TD ball with Bellamy two steps behind his defender. “He came up to me and said, ‘Keep feeding me,’” Barkley said. “I’m not going to stop giving those guys the ball… .I’m going to keep coming back to them for the rest of the year.”

Cam Meredith remained in the starting lineup and caught 3 of the 4 passes thrown to him, with Thompson and tight end Daniel Brown catching 2 each.

Offensive line: A

With the adverse weather conditions expected, coaches made a specific challenge to the offensive line to take over this game against a struggling San Francisco front. Guard Josh Sitton was active but still limited with an ankle injury, so coaches stayed with Eric Kush at left guard and were rewarded with some consistent blocking in the run game. Kush executed combination blocks and worked to the second level. Kush and Charles Leno repeatedly dominated the San Francisco left side as the Bears pounded with the run and never let up in the snowy conditions.

“With the conditions, you had to run the ball,” Leno said. “The O-line just tried to come together, not worry about the record and win one week at a time.”

The result was another 100-yard rushing day for Jordan Howard, with 3 touchdowns, and 142 rushing yards, high for the season. “Today the offensive line got great push like they always do,” Howard said.

Barkley was sacked once, in the fourth quarter, on a breakdown in one-on-one blocking by tight end Daniel Brown.

Cody Whitehair going down in the fourth quarter with a leg injury was a blow, but Whitehair was able to return later in the period. The Bears had Sitton dressed and part of field-goal unit, and Sitton came in at right guard and Ted Larsen moved over to center.

Coaching: A

The obvious overall effort and preparation of a 2-9 team for a game of virtually no import to the season was noteworthy, as the Bears again played with intensity and efficiency throughout, including recovering from first-half gaffes on special teams that put the Bears down 6-0.

The defense schemed for 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick by staying almost exclusively in a 3-4 front, utilizing three down-linemen and two outside linebackers to pressure Kaepernick and with the speed to thwart his runs. The result was the worst game of Kaepernick’s career, with 20 rushing yards and 4 passing, vs. 25 yards lost to sacks.

The offense held to a run-based mindset and plan, even when the 49ers turned two special-teams mistakes into field goals for the first two scores. The 49ers also relied primarily on man-to-man coverage, committing an extra defender to run defense, but the Bears were willing and able to challenge downfield knowing that the San Francisco pass rush was hampered by the field conditions.

“Props to Dowell[Loggains, offensive coordinator] and the whold coaching staff for getting us ready and making adjustments like that during the game,” Barkley said.

Special teams was again mistake-prone with mental breakdowns compounded by physical mistakes.

Morning Update: Bears beat 49ers; Blackhawks' offense struggles in loss to Jets

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USA TODAY

Morning Update: Bears beat 49ers; Blackhawks' offense struggles in loss to Jets

Here are some of the top stories from Sunday in Chicago sports:

Five Things to Watch: Bulls back in action against Trail Blazers

Tune in tonight for Chicago Bulls Charities Night

Blackhawks score late but can't get past Jets

Bears offense finds groove in win over 49ers

Winter meetings preview: Why teams will find trying to copy a ‘Cubs Way’ rebuild is easier said than done

White Sox revamp would mean fewer 'stopgaps' and 'half-measures'

Significance of Bears win over 49ers lies beyond records and score

Five Things from Blackhawks-Jets: Offense still anemic

Bears' Matt Barkley 'showing the world' he can be a starting QB in the NFL

Lars Johansson excited for Blackhawks call-up