Samardzija All-Star for both teams, sort of

The biggest mystery surrounding Tuesday’s All-Star Game is where A’s pitcher Jeff Samardzija will wind up.

Should Samardzija sit in the National League dugout with the players who voted him to their team as a Cub, or take a seat in the American League dugout with his six A’s teammates?

“I think he’s going just stand in the middle of the field and just be awkward,” A’s catcher Derek Norris predicted.

A player who definitely won’t participate was one of the most in demand for interviews Monday.

“Kind of a crazy ordeal,” A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson said.

Samardzija was asked several times Monday what jersey he’ll wear, and replied “a blank one” most of the time.

“It’s not really unique,” he said. “It’s just the way things happened. The timing [of the trade from the Cubs to the A’s] is unfortunate, but I’m really excited to get to experience two teams.”



From doubt, a star is reborn in Kazmir

Scott Kazmir pauses at the question, smiles, then laughs. “I don’t know,” he replies. “How did I get here?”

Not just here specifically, to the hotel where the Oakland lefthander took his place among the other American League All-Stars Monday.

But here in the broader sense back into baseball after being so far down and for a while actually out of the game, and back to being one of the game’s elite pitchers as he was for the Rays in what seems so long ago.

“It’s something that for a couple years I thought maybe it would never happen,” Kazmir said. “But I’m proud of this moment. I’m proud to be here.”

So even after struggling so badly he was released by the Angels in June 2011 less than two years after being acquired from the Rays, even after an aborted comeback in the Dominican Republic, even after spending a few months with nowhere to throw but his back yard, even after the apparent indignity of pitching independent league ball, he insists he never, ever gave up hope.



How much does it count for, anyway?

Tuesday’s All-Star Game will be the 12th time the game has counted for something.

How much that something really matters is debatable.

Intuitively, home-field advantage in Game 7 of the World Series should be important. So how many games has that been worth historically?

None. The home team is 18-18 in World Series Game 7s. That’s right: home-field advantage in Game 7 has, quite literally, no advantage at all. And since 2003, when the All-Star game began to decide the home team, the World Series has gone to seven games only once.

However, home-field advantage plays a role in more than only Game 7. Over the last 20 years, the home team is 64-44 in World Series games.



Aging All-Stars rarely come up big

Derek Jeter has appeared in an even dozen All-Star Games over his career, going 11-for-25 with a home run, five runs, three RBI and one MVP award (Atlanta, 2000) over that time.

Jeter has one more shot at adding to that impressive line Tuesday night at Target Field and there’s no doubt a lot of people would like to see the New York Yankees shortstop go out like Cal Ripken did in 2001.

Here’s the thing, though: Big on-field moments like the one Ripken had at Seattle’s Safeco Field — hitting a homer off Chan Ho Park — haven’t been very common for the game’s greats as they’ve played their final Midsummer Classics. Over the years, an aging All-Star has been far more likely to go out with a throwaway pinch-hit opportunity in the late innings than a memorable game-changing hit.