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Chris Sale gets main stage at All-Star Game, uses platform

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White Sox ace, who is starting for American League, pays tribute to Tony Gwynn and touts Jose Quintana

Harry How/Getty Images

An ugly end to his first half didn’t cost Chris Sale the honor of starting the All-Star Game.

Ned Yost named Chris Sale the American League starter for Tuesday's exhibition, and he's deserving of the honor, especially since Danny Salazar is missing the game due to "mild elbow discomfort." Although Sale's ERA ballooned to 3.38 after the Braves beat him up, he’s still in good standing on numerous AL leaderboards:

  • Wins: 14 (first)
  • Innings: 125 (first)
  • Strikeouts: 123 (third)
  • fWAR: 2.6 (fourth)

He’s also racked up 2.6 WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com, but that’s only good for 14th this year. One year after fielding-independent numbers championed the Condor in awards races, it’s the traditional Cy Young stats that have his back. And so he’ll start for Yost and the AL against Johnny Cueto, whose numbers are even gaudier for San Francisco (13-1, 2.47 ERA, 131 IP).

Three notable Sale statements from this afternoon's press conference:

No. 1: He doesn’t take "This Time It Counts" to heart.

"I plan on just letting it eat for an inning, really." Sale said. "Just getting after it. There’s really no repercussions that come from this game other than just having fun and competing. That’s all I’m really going to try to do."

No. 2: He paid a meaningful tribute to Tony Gwynn.

With the game set in San Diego, writers asked Ned Yost about coaching against the greatest player in Padres history. Yost shared a story about the Braves’ difficulty getting him out, after which Sale interjected, "I’d like to add something about Tony Gwynn as well..."

"I chewed tobacco from 2007 until the day he passed away," Sale said. "I remember seeing that and just being so shocked ... I quit that day and haven’t touched it since.

"In a sense, I owe him a huge thank you for not only myself, but for my family. Hopefully I can maybe sway somebody in the right direction as well like he did for me."

No. 3: He’s excited to have Jose Quintana on board.

Skip ahead to 1:10 to see and hear Sale talk about the less-heralded White Sox lefty.

Sale said he told Yost, "If you were to watch [Quintana] the four days in between his starts, you’d say, ‘This guy’s one of the best ever.’ His preparation, his intensity, his work ethic, the teammate he is. He’s gone through some ups and downs and had a lot of bad luck and the way he’s handled it, the professional that he’s been, I couldn’t be more happy or more satisfied with how this played out."

This is why I still enjoy the All-Star Game. Even though technological advancements make every game available, baseball is still a national game followed locally, so it gives the country a chance to see what we already know.