The signs point towards Koji Uehara joining Jon Lester as the only Red Sox in the 2014 All-Star Game next week. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The announcement of the rosters for the 2014 All-Star Game included just one member of the Red Sox–pitcher Jon Lester. In recent years, usually a group of Boston players would make the trip, including regulars like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. Yet after fans and players gave their opinions on who will get to make the trip to Minnesota next week, Ortiz along with other Sox candidates such as Koji Uehara and Brock Holt were nowhere to be found.

Offensive struggles, competition keep Ortiz off roster

After finally getting the Red Sox to bite on a two-year contract, Ortiz has put up his worst numbers at the plate since 2009 when it seemed like his career was over. While there’s no doubt he remains the most dangerous hitter in the Sox lineup with an impressive 19 home runs before the break, Big Papi has been hitting closer to .250 than .300 for the majority of the year.

Additionally, the competition in the American League at the designated hitter position actually exists this season. Nelson Cruz has played DH in about half of his games this year for Baltimore and made the roster as a starter and earned his position on the team from the fan vote, even after recently dealing with his PED suspension.

The American League has four potential backup first basemen; Jose Abreu, Edwin Encarnacion, Victor Martinez, and Brandon Moss. Of the bunch, Moss’s numbers are most comparable with Ortiz, but at the end of the day the 2014 season has belonged to Oakland, and they will be well-represented at the game with six All-Stars. Ortiz would be the first to admit that he doesn’t belong in this mix of players, and will probably benefit from a few days off for a change.

Uehara will be first alternate roster option

Closer Koji Uehara seemed like a serious candidate for the All-Star Game, and he is the first option to replace a pitcher who is injured or ineligible to pitch, so he’s certain to end up joining the roster eventually. The 39-year old has been close to flawless in 41.2 innings this season, striking out 52 batters while walking just six and maintaining a 1.30 ERA.

When comparing Uehara to the other right-handed relievers elected, it does seem like he should have been initially chosen. Kansas City Royals reliever Greg Holland has been terrific but less effective than the automatic Uehara, who deserved his spot on the roster, especially since the Royals are already represented with both Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon attending.

Unproven Holt doesn’t belong in Minnesota

As for Brock Holt, the super utility rookie extraordinaire has played unbelievable on both sides of the ball this season, by making the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the batting order relatively painless and by playing nearly every position in the field. While his numbers are crawling back down to Earth, only playing in 55 games to this point in the season prevents Holt from being realistically considered, especially given how little his great play has impacted the success of the Red Sox.

Ultimately, the Red Sox are going nowhere in 2014. The bridge is in full effect as the team and the media focuses more on the upcoming Jon Lester free agency than the actual standings. It is unusual for the Red Sox to be out of a playoff race before the All-Star Break, especially for the defending World Series champions, but the future remains bright and it’s fair to expect multiple All-Stars from this promising franchise in the years to come.

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Germany has done well so far, but can they keep it up against the host country? ("Balls of Fury," 2007)

The final four teams in the World’s most prestigious soccer tournament are ready to duke it out. Perennial powerhouses Brazil and Germany start the round off, to be followed by last World Cup’s runner-up Netherlands taking on Argentina.

With Brazil and Germany being ranked third and second in the world respectively, that should be a good game. And Netherlands vs Argentina should have plenty of intrigue as well. In that respect, neither game’s winner was unanimously picked. Even the scores of the game had differences in predictions.

As before, choosing the winner of each game is worth two points, while picking the goals scored by each team is worth one point.

So check below for everyone’s predictions, and come back once the Finals are set for the results. Continue reading 2014 FIFA World Cup Expert Picks: Semifinals »

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Behind home-rain-forest advantage, Brazil was the only team to score twice in the quarterfinals. (http://at-web.org/)

The Semis are set, and it was a tough battle all around. Upstart Costa Rica forced Netherlands to penalty kicks. All other games were decided by one goal as well, two of those by the score of 1-0.

That made extra points tough to come by for our experts, who all unanimously picked the winners of all four games. Still, with four more games in the tournament, there’s plenty of time to make up room.

So check below for the updated results, and come back Tuesday evening for the Semifinal selections. Continue reading 2014 FIFA World Cup Expert Picks: Quarterfinals Results »

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The USA isn't in the tournament anymore, but the Quarterfinals still kick off on the Fourth of July. (http://dianegottsman.com/)

The Quarterfinals are about to begin, starting with a huge all-Europe match between France and Germany. With a great performance to win a tough group, and as the only team left not from Europe or South America, Costa Rica could be fun to watch, despite a tough game against the Netherlands. Argentina and Belgium look to build off tough elimination wins, while host Brazil faces Columbia in the round’s all-South America game.

This round, it was easier for our experts to choose the winners, with differences in finals scores to make the most difference in scoring before the Semifinal Round. As before, choosing the winner of each game is worth two points, while picking the goals scored by each team is worth one point.

So check below for everyone’s picks for this round, and check back once the round is complete for updated results. Continue reading 2014 FIFA World Cup Expert Picks: Quarterfinals »

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Belgium eked its way through against a late US rally to win the final spot in the Quarterfinals. (http://www.brusselspictures.com/)

The Round of 16 is complete. Host Brazil had to work harder than anticipated to get by. Team USA couldn’t keep things together in extra time of the final game. After all eight group winners advanced, we’re left with four European squads, three from South America and one from Central America. Two games were decided by two goals, four by one goal and two had to go to penalty kicks.

In our Pick ‘Em, Columbia over Uruguay was the one big surprise, with Belgium over USA being a split decision. Points from guessing each team’s final goal tally also provided a great avenue towards points, especially with the lower scoring teams.

So check below for the updated results, and come back on Independence day for the Quarterfinal selections. Continue reading 2014 FIFA World Cup Expert Picks: Round of 16 Results »

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The bracket is set for the knockout games with a very good field. (http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/)

The knockout bracket is set and underway. Brazil continues their quest to win as host country. USA looks to beat a European opponent (after a tie and loss in the group stage) to move on. And of course, there are plenty of great games in between.

Our picks provide an interesting view, with group winners favored in general, though with blowouts kept to a minimum. For each pick, choosing the winner of each game is worth two points, while picking the goals scored by each team is worth one point.

Check below for the complete pick set, and come back once the round is complete for the updated results. Continue reading 2014 FIFA World Cup Expert Picks: Round of 16 »

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Adam Silver, Marcus Smart (Boston.com)

Prior to Thursday night’s NBA Draft, there was a lot of talk about whether the Celtics should take highly-touted, but injured, Kansas center Joel Embiid, once a candidate for the top pick, if he were available at number six. Soon, the 76ers threw all that discussion right out the window by selecting Embiid with the third overall pick. Three selections later, Boston was on the board with plenty of talent to choose from in one of the deepest drafts in years, including, unexpectedly, Indiana power forward (and Haverhill native) Noah Vonleh, whose stock fell sharply in the last days before the draft.

General manager Danny Ainge, however, took Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart, and later added another perimeter player, shooting guard James Young out of Kentucky, with the 17th pick. While it’s no surprise that Ainge addressed the backcourt considering that the Celtics’ two SGs, Jerryd Bayless and Avery Bradley, are set to become free agents, the selection of Smart ensured that the conversation immediately turned to the future of Rajon Rondo. Let’s take a look at the two newest Celtics, and at what their selections could mean for Boston’s roster over the remainder of the offseason: Continue reading Celtics Address Backcourt in Draft: Analysis and Roster Implications »

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