In what's being called the "Year of the Pitcher," perhaps none has been as dominant as the Colorado Rockies' Ubaldo Jimenez. Despite a rough three-game stretch recently, Jimenez carries a 15-1 record into the All-Star break to go along with his 2.20 ERA, earning him the prestigious start for the National League in today's All-Star game.
"It's not something I was thinking about," Jimenez tells reporters (via The Denver Post
). "There are so many great pitchers, you don't expect this to ever happen. It's an honor to represent my family, my team, and my country. This is special. It's humbling."
Jimenez has managed to keep his low-key disposition even as he's the center of attention amidst the game's biggest stars. His priorities are helping his team win and having his jersey signed by as many players as possible.
If Jimenez manages to help the NL win, he'll also help the league do something it hasn't since 1996: give the NL home-field advantage in the World Series. National baseball observers are saying Jimenez is part of the reason the NL may be finally able to level the playing field with the American League, which has been dominant for years.
The Washington Post
writes, "The time may finally be approaching when the NL can break its mid-summer jinx and not only win its first All-Star game since '96, but reassert itself as a separate but roughly equal league, rather than as an American League occupied territory."
The New York Times
points out that NL manager Charlie Manuel could throw out an amazing arsenal of pitchers to get the win: Jimenez, Florida's Josh Johnson, Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (originally from Arvada), and St. Louis star Adam Wainright.