Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and offering opinions. We'll collect the daily highlights and create a running file throughout the week to measure The Pulse of SportsNation on a wide variety of issues. Check this page every day for an update of what the 'Nation is saying.
Friday's Big Question
1. Who wins baseball's midseason awards?
Albert Pujols is mashing baseballs and his MVP competitors.
The second half of the baseball season is in full swing but SportsNation is taking one last look back at the best of the best in the first half.
The 'Nation's gives overwhelming support to two no-brainers in the MVP races, offensive monsters David Ortiz of the Red Sox and Albert Pujols of the Cardinals. Each gets well over half the votes in his league with Ortiz coming in 42 percentage points ahead of Jim Thome and Pujols 35 percent ahead of David Wright.
SN is having a tougher time with the Cy Young races. Rookie sensation Francisco Liriano of the Twins is in a virtual dead heat with Roy Halladay of the Blue Jays in the American League while in the National League Tom Glavine of the Mets has precious little breathing room over All-Star starter Brad Penny of the Dodgers.
Liriano has things a little easier in SportsNation's AL Rookie of the Year vote, though, easily outdistancing Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Over in the NL it's Dan Uggla of the Marlins coming in just ahead of Prince Fielder of the Brewers and Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals.
Who will win the AL MVP?
55% David Ortiz, Red Sox
13% Jim Thome, White Sox
8% Joe Mauer, Twins
7% Derek Jeter, Yankees
5% Travis Hafner, Indians
3% Jermaine Dye, White Sox
3% Magglio Ordonez, Tigers
2% Vladimir Guerrero, Angels
2% Manny Ramirez, Red Sox
2% Vernon Wells, Blue Jays
Who will win the NL MVP?
57% Albert Pujols, Cardinals
22% David Wright, Mets
13% Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers
3% Ryan Howard, Phillies
2% Carlos Beltran, Mets
1% Jose Reyes, Mets
1% Lance Berkman, Astros
1% Carlos Lee, Brewers
0.1% Scott Rolen, Cardinals
Who will win the AL Cy Young?
25% Francisco Liriano, Twins
24% Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
14% Jose Contreras, White Sox
12% Johan Santana, Twins
8% Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox
6% Kenny Rogers, Tigers
4% Mike Mussina, Yankees
3% Justin Verlander, Tigers
2% Curt Schilling, Sox
1% John Lackey, Angels
Tom Glavine is 9-0 since April 24.
Who will win the NL Cy Young?
29% Tom Glavine, Mets
23% Brad Penny, Dodgers
18% Brandon Webb, Diamondbacks
9% Pedro Martinez, Mets
7% Bronson Arroyo, Reds
5% Chris Carpenter, Cardinals
3% Chris Capuano, Brewers
3% Carlos Zambrano, Cubs
2% Jason Schmidt, Giants
Who will win the AL Rookie of the Year?
53% Francisco Liriano, Twins
33% Jonathan Papelbon, Sox
9% Justin Verlander, Tigers
4% Bobby Jenks, White Sox
2% Kenji Johjima, Mariners
Who will win the NL Rookie of the Year?
30% Dan Uggla, Marlins
25% Prince Fielder, Brewers
22% Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
13% Andre Ethier, Dodgers
6% Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
2% Mike Jacobs, Marlins
1% Scott Olsen, Marlins
1% Conor Jackson, Diamondbacks
1% Josh Willingham, Marlins
Big Papi for MVP. Sox would be in third place without his clutch hitting.
Will (Cambridge, Mass.)
Can we just give the AL MVP award to the entire Tigers pitching staff?
Will (Wyandotte, MI)
Why even have a vote for National League MVP? Pujols is carrying his team offensively all by himself and is even turning into a great first baseman.
Mark it down: Liriano's going to get the rare ROY-Cy Young double-dip. Kid's unhittable and the Twins will make a run behind him, Santana and Mauer.
Tom Glavine has been reborn this year. Best pitcher in the league for the best team in the league. Cy Young recipe if I've ever heard one.
Ryan (Flushing, NY)
What a year for rookie pitchers. Only one can win the Rookie of the Year, but multiple Cy Youngs will come out of this group in future years.
Ryan Zimmerman for ROY! The new Mr. Clutch is going to shine even more once Alfonso Soriano's out of Washington.
Dee (Farifax, Va.)
Seems everyone on the Marlins is a rookie. Give them a team award.
Kev (San Diego)
Thursday's Big Question
1. Does Michelle Wie belong in PGA Tour events?
Michelle Wie is again playing alongside men on the PGA Tour.
Teen sensation Michelle Wie is once again taking her hacks on the PGA Tour, teeing it up at the John Deer Classic for the second straight year thanks to a sponsor's exemption.
Putting aside the obvious disadvantages a 16-year-old faces playing while playing against grown men, the question remains as to whether or not Wie should even be setting foot on the course in a PGA event. She made the cut at the Asian Tour's SK Telecom Open in May but finished 12 strokes back in an event that did not feature the best PGA players, leading many to believe she is getting ahead of herself in testing her skills at the highest level.
There is some support for Wie's cause, tough. It has been said that coming up just short in her previous attempts to make the cut at PGA events is something to be applauded given her age. But even more people feel Wie should first establish herself against her female peers on the LPGA Tour before going up against the men, and SportsNation is firmly in that camp.
Nearly 70 percent of voters think Wie will miss the cut at the John Deere and well over 60 percent feel she should not be competing in PGA events at all.
Will Michelle Wie make the cut at the John Deere Classic?
Should Michelle Wie be competing in PGA Tour events?
Is there anyone besides me who actually roots against Michelle Wie? I need to see her beat the WOMEN first. Here's to another missed cut.
Colin (Buffalo, NY)
Wie will not make the cut and will be lucky to shoot par.
It would be a great story if Wie made the cut or even managed to break par this week, but she just won't. She's out of her league playing with grown men. Stick to the LPGA.
Carl (Teaneck, NJ)
I understand the fascination with Michelle Wie and what she's trying to do. But until she wins something at any level, can we dial it down a little? It's a nice little story but should not overshadow the men and women who are actually winning these tournaments.
Wayne (Madison, WI)
I know I couldn't outplay Michelle Wie, and I'd hate to be one of the guys who finishes behind her, but she's in over her head. She needs some success to build on.
I root for Michelle Wie. She's a great role model for young girls and she's not a bad golfer, either.
Girls can do anything guys can do, right? Let's not forget, she almost qualified for the US Open. That's impressive for a 30-year-old man, much less a teenage girl.
Steven (Los Angeles)
Michelle Wie is what, SIXTEEN YEARS OLD? I root for her, I think its incredible.
Mat (Scottsdale, AZ)
Wednesday's Big Question
1. What to expect during MLB's second half?
Will Joe Torre be clapping in the playoffs? Depends who you ask.
SportsNation is confused. Perhaps the All-Star Game lasted a bit too long into the night or maybe the unpredictability of the first half of the baseball season has folks out of sorts. Whatever the reason, SN's second-half predictions are head-scratchers.
The 'Nation has picked the Yankees as the least likely to make the playoffs from a group of four top American League contenders, but also pegs the Yanks as the best bet among current non-playoff teams to get into the postseason. Huh?
But that's not all. The Reds are getting the same treatment over in the National League. They are well ahead of the Astros as the team most likely to miss the playoffs and have more than double the support the Brewers are getting as a potential playoff team.
Few think the White Sox and Cardinals are in danger of staying home in October, while the Rangers and Rockies get the least backing as likely postseason participants. At least we can all agree on some things.
Which AL team is most likely to miss the playoffs?
13% Red Sox
5% White sox
Which NL team is most likely to miss the playoffs?
Which AL team not currently in a playoff spot is most likely to make the postseason?
11% Blue Jays
Which NL team not currently in a playoff spot is most likely to make the postseason?
The Yankees miss the playoffs!
Eric (High Point, NC)
Can the Yanks stay above water for the next six weeks until they get their big guns back? Can A-Rod carry them to that point? My gut says they will find a way to get it done and squeak out another division title in the end.
Dougie Fresh (DC)
The Yankees and Tigers fighting for the wild card!
The Tigers: News if they collapse, bigger news if they continue to win.
Tom* (Parkville, MD)
Jays making the playoffs. You heard it here first!
Will Adam Dunn mash the Reds into the postseason?
Adam Dunn will only strike out 75 times in the second half. And he will hit 30 more home runs and push the Reds into the playoffs.
Reds are gonna fade and be watching the playoffs from the couch. I mean, how long do they really expect Griffey to stay healthy and Arroyo to pitch over his head?
The LA Angeles of Anaheim of America of Planet Earth have already started going on a tear, and it'll continue into the second half when they surpass the A's (who trade Zito) and run away with the division led by another stud rookie, Jered Weaver.
Astros are starting to make moves. In a repeat of last year they come out of nowhere and get to the Series.
Rich Harden, when healthy, is easily the best pitcher on that already loaded A's staff. He breaks out and leads the A's to the division title!
Dodgers are going to overtake the Padres in the NL West, leaving the Rockies and everyone else out in the cold.
Best we can hope for in the second half is for BOTH the Yanks and Red Sox to miss the playoffs. Let's get some fresh blood in there!
Tuesday's Big Question
1. Which team will win the All-Star Game?
There is plenty at stake for AL manager Ozzie Guillen.
We found out yesterday that Sportsnation is more interested in the Home Run Derby than the actual All-Star game, but that doesn't mean there is a shortage of strong opinions about the Midsummer Classic.
The American League compiled a decisive 154-98 advantage in interleague play this season and the 'Nation likes that to carry over into tonight's All-Star Game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. Nearly 70 percent of voters pick the AL to win the game and assure itself of home-field advantage in the World Series.
But should the game, which began as a midseason talent showcase for the fans, really decide something so important? SN answers with an emphatic "No". Better than three-fourths say MLB should follow the lead of other major pro sports and award home field to the team with the best regular-season record.
Which team will win the All-Star Game?
68% American League
32% National League
How should home-field advantage for the World Series be determined?
77% Best regular-season record
14% All-Star Game winner
8% Alternating years
The American League is going to dominate this thing. Too much offense. NL pitchers couldn't hack it during interleague so why should this be different? AL wins 10-3.
Ichiro. Jeter. Papi. A-Rod. Vlad. Pudge. Not a bad top six. Pujols is the only scary name in the NL lineup. AL in a landslide.
While Kenny Rogers wouldn't have been my choice to start for the AL it won't matter anyway. He'll throw two innings, by which time the Junior Circuit will have a five run lead. AL wins going away.
AL scores in double digits, assuring Comerica Park will be hosting World Series games this fall!
Scott (Royal Oak, MI)
The NL staff is very underrated with Schmidt, Penny, Oswalt, Webb, Arroyo, Capuano and others. They hold the beasts from the AL down and win a tight one, 5-4.
Herman (San Francisco)
Not many are giving Albert Pujols and the NL a chance.
NL has a real shot. Get some guys on ahead of Pujols and it's all good. National League wins and Phat Albert is MVP with a pair of three-run bombs.
Anyone else want to see Zambrano on the mound against Pierzynski at the plate? Would love to see someone plunked in the All-Star Game!
Best comedy of the night will be the AL pitchers taking awkward hacks at the plate.
Brad (Jersey Shore)
Home-field advantage in the World Series should be decided by which team has the better record. Period.
World Series home field is a joke. How about the best record during the regular season? Every other professional sport seems to have figured that out. Bud is a moron.
Dougie Fresh (DC)
Home field in the World Series should be decided by which league does better overall during interleague play.
It is ridiculous that Mark Redman or Freddy Sanchez could decide who gets homefield in the WS.
So Ozzie says he is playing to win? I guess we wont be seeing Mark Redman on the bump tonight.
The Home Run Derby isn't valued enough by Bud and Co. I think next year's All-Star Game should be played in Philly since Ryan Howard won. That would be an incentive for the teams to get their guys to participate. Makes as much sense as deciding home team in the Series with the All-Star Game.
What's wrong the the All-Star game determining home field? At least it makes for a competitive game where the players actually care.
Stacey (Los Angeles)
Monday's Big Questions
1. Who will win the Home Run Derby?
2. What was Zidane thinking?
Will David Oritz go deep at PNC?
Maybe home-field advantage in the World Series should be up for grabs in the Home Run Derby. Hey, if the World Cup can end on penalty kicks ...
The idea behind awarding home-field advantage to the winning league in the All-Star Game was to make the contest more competitive and gets fans excited about the Midsummer Classic again. But it turns out an overwhelming majority of voters are more interested in the exhibition of slugging skills in Monday's Home Run Derby.
So what will happen when eight sluggers step to the plate at PNC Park in Pittsburgh? It's going to be tough to duplicate Bobby Abreu's staggering 41 home runs in last year's contest, but SportsNation voters spent some time narrowing down the field. First, voters tabbed David Ortiz and Miguel Tejada as the likely AL leaders and Ryan Howard and Lance Berkman as the likely NL leader. But when it came down it, nobody could challenge Ortiz as SportsNation's pick to win.
69% Enjoy the Home Run Derby more than the All-Star Game
Which American League player will fare the best in the Home Run Derby?
64% David Ortiz
14% Miguel Tejada
11% Troy Glaus
11% Jermaine Dye
Which National League player will fare the best in the Home Run Derby?
53% Ryan Howard
22% Lance Berkman
14% David Wright
11% Miguel Cabrera
Which player will win the Home Run Derby?
52% David Ortiz
30% Ryan Howard
10% Miguel Tejada
8% Lance Berkman
Who would win the ultimate Home Run Derby?
1. Babe Ruth
2. Hank Aaron
3. Barry Bonds
4. Mark McGwire
5. Ken Griffey Jr.
6. Mickey Mantle
7. Willie Mays
8. Ted Williams
It's 410 feet to PNC Park's left-centerfield fence, which is deeper than their fence in center. This should favor a left-handed pull hitter like David Ortiz.
Tom (Parkville, Md.)
I don't care about the Home Run Derby. Everyone's so outraged about steroids, yet we still celebrate this thing? The best hitters aren't even in it. It's become a second-tier slam dunk contest.
Matt (Washington, D.C.)
Ryan Howard won't win. He'll get tired quicker than Mo Vaughn doing Pilates.
I think the natural feeling is to go with Papi, but I feel David Wright is going to do something special. That guy is just thrilled to be there and will swing his guts out.
Matt (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Hitting the ball to all fields isn't necessary in this contest, so I will take Big Papi. David Wright and Jermaine Dye are sleepers to watch.
What was Zidane thinking?
For a brief moment it looked like our final image of Zinedine Zidane would be the French star using his head to snap the ball into the goal and give France a late lead against Italy in the World Cup.
Right body part, wrong moment.
Late in overtime of the final game, Zidane inexplicably head-butted Italian Marco Materazzi, drawing a red card and likely ending his brilliant career. SportsNation voters still think Chris Webber's timeout call against North Carolina was a worse decision, but Zidane's explosion tops a host of other memorable gaffes.
64% Italy is deserving winner of the World Cup
58% Expected Italy to beat France in the World Cup final
Who made the worst decision during a major sporting event?
37% Chris Webber's timeout vs. UNC
30% Zinedine Zidane's headbutt vs. Italy
14% Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open
11% Reggie Bush's Rose Bowl lateral
8% A-Rod's slapping the ball in the ALCS
Pedro Martinez throwing Don Zimmer to the ground comes kind of close. Didn't something like this happen recently? It's driving me nuts trying to remember.
Christian (High Point, N.C.)
Ok, it was uncool. However, if David Robinson had done that in his last game right before he won the NBA Finals, no one would hate him for it. My point is, Zidane's legacy will be just fine.
People keep saying it was out of character, but it wasn't. By all accounts he had a temper and he's been red-carded for headbutting before and stomping on someone's back. That's not to take away from his brilliance, but this guy isn't a saint.
This was definitely one of the most shocking plays in sports history, but I think it's hard to compare it to any incidents from U.S. sports. The reason is that getting kicked out certainly didn't do the French any favors, but because of the penalty kicks it didn't hurt them as much as say the Bulls losing Michael Jordan with five minutes left in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Maybe A-Rod when he did that karate chop thing on Bronson Arroyo in 2004, running down the first base line?
Matt (Fairfax, Va.)
In this big of a stage, it's hard to think of anything that would compete. It would have to be the championship game and I can't think of anything this stunning.
Jake (Virginia Beach, Va.)