Looking forward to All-Star Week

Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game is coming up July 15, and, believe it or not, I am looking forward to it.

I guess you could say I’m looking forward to All-Star Week, and there are several reasons.

The first, of course, is the annual Home Run Derby July 14.

This is what almost everyone who sits through a baseball game — its pace sometimes slower than a line of snails — wants to see.

What makes the Home Run Derby special is the fact viewers don’t have to wait for batters to walk to the backstop and return to the batter’s box after every pitch, all while adjusting their batting gloves and other things along the way.

Also, despite the fact everyone in the stadium and everyone watching from home knows the players are seeing mostly batting practice fastballs, some blasts are so majestic we lose sight of them and wonder how someone can hit  something with a stick and make it travel that far.

I remember when the Texas Rangers’ Josh Hamilton set a record with 28 home runs in the first round.

There’s always the chance something like that could possibly happen again, which makes the Home Run Derby worth the watch.

Also, generally ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman’s familiar, “Back, back, back…gone” is fun to hear.

If the Home Run Derby isn’t enough all-star excitement for you, tune in July 13 for the All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game.

As the name implies, Major League Baseball legends take the field with today’s celebrities for an old-fashioned game of backyard softball.

This year’s list of participants — which is available at MLB.com — includes hall-of-famer Andre Dawson, actor James Denton, USA National Team pitcher Jennie Finch, hall-of-famer and  celebrity softball mainstay Rollie Fingers, Cy Young Award winner Doc Gooden, and famous hall-of-fame shortstop and backflipper Ozzie Smith.

Sadly, there is no mention of former “King of Queens” actor Kevin James.

Finally, the game itself.

It will take place at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins, which I don’t remember seeing except in a small highlight reel on SportsCenter.

I’m sure it’s a nice park, and I’m ready to decide for myself.

I will say I find the game more interesting now since someone had the bright idea it should award home-field advantage in the World Series to the winner.

Some people don’t like the idea. I don’t care one way or another if they decide to change it.

The National League probably wants to change the rule as fast as possible, though.

Since the game began to count toward home-field advantage in 2003, the American League has won eight of the last 11 all-star games, including a seven-game streak before the National League managed a 3-1 win in 2010, according to MLB.com.

The American League won last year’s game 3-0 at Citi Field in New York to break a three-game National League win streak.

If you Google the rosters, which are complete minus the final fan-voted selection, its hard to judge which team will win and earn home-field advantage for its league, but that’s what makes watching some of the most talented baseball players in the world come together in one place for one game fun and worthwhile.

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