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What to watch for in tonight’s All-Star Game

Jul 10, 2012, 4:22 PM EDT

Mike Trout AP

Tonight’s 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will officially open with Detroit’s Justin Verlander throwing to Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez. Still, my favorite part will take place before that. The Midsummer Classic isn’t the must-see event it was before Baseball Tonight, MLB Extra Innings and made seeing the league’s stars in action so much easier. But I don’t think anything beats seeing the 60-some-odd players line up on the field before the game in their array of uniforms, smiling and waving to the crowd. It’s old hat for some, but for the rookies and the first-time veterans in the midst of career years, it’s a standout moment.

Of course, what happens after they say “play ball” should be interesting to. Here’s what to watch for…

– The much-anticipated All-Star debuts of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.

Harper was a late selection, only getting on to the NL team because a couple of outfielders had to drop out. Even then, one can argue he’s not really worthy based on his performance this year. I say “so what?” Harper is the next big thing, and he’s plenty good already. Who wouldn’t want to see him come up to the plate in the ninth inning tonight? At 19, he’s the youngest position player in All-Star Game history. He’s actually younger than all but one of the players to take part in Sunday’s Futures Game (the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar was the younger player, in case you’re wondering).

As for Trout, well, there was no doubt he was going to be picked for the AL roster. The 20-year-old isn’t only the AL Rookie of the Year favorite, but he’s right in the MVP mix with his .341/.397/.562 line and league-leading 26 steals to date. A rare combination of speed and power, he rates as the most exciting player in the league right now.

Chipper Jones‘s final All-Star appearance

With a .318/.396/.580 line in 173 at-bats, Atlanta’s elder statesman is putting together a nice last hurrah after announcing his retirement this spring. Barring a playoff run by the Braves, this will be the future Hall of Famer’s last time on the national stage. It will be interesting to see how manager Tony La Russa works him in given that he has four third basemen on the roster (Chipper, starter Pablo Sandoval, David Wright and David Freese). The plan will probably be to have him pinch-hit.

R.A. Dickey‘s darting knuckler and Carlos Ruiz‘s attempt to catch it.

Not to mention that AL team’s attempts to hit it.

Dickey deserved to start for the NL squad, but since Buster Posey has never caught a knuckler and the Giants really didn’t want him trying it for the first time tonight, Matt Cain will get the ball instead. The plan is for Dickey and Ruiz to enter the game at the same time, as the Philadelphia catcher was more up for the challenge. Dickey throws a much harder knuckler than what we’ve come to expect from Tim Wakefield and others, and it’s helped him rack up 123 strikeouts, good for second in the NL.

– Four first-time All-Stars in the starting lineup

Here’s the full list of first-time All-Stars

American League
C Mike Napoli (Tex) – starter
OF Mike Trout (LAA) – rookie
OF Mark Trumbo (LAA)
DH Billy Butler (KC)
RP Ryan Cook (Oak) – rookie
SP Yu Darvish (Tex) – rookie
SP Matt Harrison (Tex)
RP Jim Johnson (Bal)
RP Fernando Rodney (TB)
SP Chris Sale (CWS)

National League
C Buster Posey (SF) – starter
OF Melky Cabrera (SF) – starter
DH Carlos Gonzalez (Col) – starter
C Carlos Ruiz (Phi)
1B Bryan LaHair (CHC)
2B Jose Altuve (Hou)
3B David Freese (StL)
SS Ian Desmond (Was) – injured, won’t participate
OF Bryce Harper (Was) – rookie
OF Giancarlo Stanton (Mia) – injured, won’t participate
RP Aroldis Chapman (Cin)
SP R.A. Dickey (NYM)
SP Lance Lynn (StL)
SP Wade Miley (Ari) – rookie
SP Stephen Strasburg (Was)
SP Huston Street (SD)

As for your veteran All-Stars, well, Derek Jeter laps the field there. This is his 13th nod. Next are David Ortiz and Jones with eight apiece.

  1. Eberwizzle - Jul 10, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    Ahhhhhhh Yeaaaaaahhhhh……….I won’t be watching

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jul 10, 2012 at 6:01 PM

      Ahhhhhhh Yeaaaaaahhhhh good for you for not liking baseball.

      • Eberwizzle - Jul 10, 2012 at 6:45 PM

        Love base….hate all star games

  2. anythingbutyanks - Jul 10, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    I WILL be watching. I don’t even care if the players especially care, as long as I see some good ball and players enjoying themselves. For all the fuss about players not trying, not caring, etc. I just like seeing them have fun, interact with guys they don’t see often, and do their best to make each other look bad. My favorite All-Star moment to date is Larry Walker batting against Randy Johnson where he turned his helmet around and batted righty after Johnson threw behind him (1997). Good baseball? No, but it was entertaining and it was still the best sport on earth being played by the best players in the game, and I would be thrilled if something as memorable happens tonight.

  3. highlander24 - Jul 10, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    In a world of all star games being complete jokes and at times tough to watch the baseball all star game really is the most competitive and entertaining. I will watch as always.

  4. cameltoehoe - Jul 10, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    To the haters above who won’t be watching: Try looking for reruns of “Rupaul’s Drag U” instead of the All-Star game. Go F.O.!

    • drewsylvania - Jul 10, 2012 at 7:28 PM

      Plenty of better things to do than watch this manufactured travesty.

  5. styx630 - Jul 10, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    God forbid the catcher that doesn’t deserve to be starting anyway not be coddled to death.

  6. randygnyc - Jul 10, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    I have to watch. I can’t stand the all star BREAK. I NEED baseball. Uggghhhhh.

  7. myvickinabox14 - Jul 10, 2012 at 7:29 PM

    Glad to see chooch finally got in. It brings a tear to my eye!

  8. goldensombrero3000 - Jul 10, 2012 at 8:51 PM

    Verlander won’t win this MVP.

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