Updated July 13
There's a reason the All-Star break sucks, and it has nothing to do with the shrill Home Run Derby or the gussied-up exhibition that serves as the midweek centerpiece: It's that there is no real baseball until Thursday. Tonight will be many things -- understrategized, overhyped, shamelessly sentimental -- but few of them well-conceived or authentic. The All-Star Game is baseball like a ringtone is chamber music.
Dobrow: Top All-Star snubs
So the best way to pass the remaining interminable 54 baseball-free hours is by looking back, looking forward and writing poetry. As part of our Exclusive Power Rankings All-Star Deluxe Funtime Extravaganza, then, each team gets the full-body-cavity-search treatment. We'll present a recap ("the first half in haiku"); anoint a shocker (pleasant surprise) and a stinker (less-than-pleasant surprise); assess the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the season's final months; and dare to share a prediction.
For whatever little it's worth, we're sticking with our preseason World Series guess -- Rays over Rockies -- because nothing that has happened so far (a roster-crippling injury, etc.) has rendered that matchup more unlikely than it was in March. Call it stubbornness if you would like, but respect the conviction. Thank you.