MLB All Star Game Event Guide
Every team in Major League Baseball has at least one player who commands the attention of the entire stadium. All eyes are on this player when he's in the field, wary about missing a diving catch or acrobatic throw. When the announcer booms his name over the PA system, the crowd goes wild, knowing that he can change the game with the swing of a bat. And when the game ends, it's this player who smiles genially to the fans and keeps them coming back game after game. The charisma and affability of these players are what make young children fans of the game and keep them fans for years to come.
So, when the MLB assembles two full rosters of the game's most talented and popular players for a weekend celebration of all things baseball, it's no wonder why fans arrive in droves to watch the spectacle. In recent years, competition between the American League and National League has intensified, due to a rule change that made the game more than entertainment and exhibition; in 2002 commissioner Bud Selig ruled that the winning team would get home-field advantage in the World Series. But aside from continuing a heated rivalry, All-Star week has become a festival celebrating the storied tradition of baseball and showcasing the sport's cultural impact and promise for the future.
Those who attend the Midsummer Classic each year can gain access to an array of events that let them see everything that baseball has to offer.
The Home Run Derby
To many fans, the most thrilling part of a baseball game comes when a fierce batter steps to the plate and narrows his gaze on the opposing pitcher. With a sudden thwack, he sends the ball clear out of the stadium, and begins a victorious trot around the base paths while showered by the applause of his home-crowd fans.
The Home Run Derby, which takes place every All-Star week, lets fans relive these moments again and again. This event pits the year's best sluggers from both leagues against each other to see who has the biggest brawn, the greatest grit and the sweetest swing to knock the most homers out of the park. In past years, fans have sat awed as Mark McGwire sent baseball after baseball out of Fenway Park and deep into the Boston night, as Bobby Abreu pounded an astonishing 41 homers in one competition - including 24 in the first round - and as Josh Hamilton set up shot slamming 28 blasts in the opening round of the 2008 Home Run Derby at the old Yankees Stadium.
The All-Star Futures Game
Starting in 1999, the Midsummer Classic became home to the All-Star Futures Game, in which a team of the top minor league talent from the U.S. takes on a club of young players from all over the world. The teams are selected based on the players' rankings among the game's top prospects according to authorities such as USA Baseball and the magazine Baseball America. If the past is any indication, these games actually give a sound preview of what the MLB's future may look like.
Prior All-Star Futures Games have included an array of today's stars, including Jose Reyes, Josh Beckett, Prince Fielder, Alfonso Soriano, Felix Hernandez and Jason Heyward.
All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game
As sports fans know, the line is often blurred between athletes and entertainers. The All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball games brings the two together in a way that reflects the role baseball has had in popular culture. Fans can see the game's legends, such as Ozzie Smith and Ernie Banks play alongside Hollywood stars like Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Hamm.