Here they are. The most talented -- or, in some cases, the most popular -- players that Major League Baseball has to offer have convened at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City for the 83rd All-Star Game.
For one night only, the National and American leagues will pit strength and against strength to determine home-field advantage in the 2012 World Series. Well, the 2012 Midsummer Classic wouldn't have opened with a matchup of literal strength vs. strength if not for a mildly controversial decision by NL skipper Tony La Russa. Bypassing 37-year-old knuckleballer R.A. Dickey despite otherworldly first-half stats, La Russa opted for big right-hander Matt Cain. Of course, it's hard to get too worked up about a guy with a perfect game taking the ball to start the All-Star Game for the Senior Circuit. But that hasn't stopped Mets fans and butterfly enthusiasts from speaking their minds.
Once American League starter Justin Verlander fires off the first pitch of the night then such pregame teapot tempests will likely be forgotten as the innings unfurl. But who will we all be talking about after the conclusion of the All-Star Game? Will it be 40-year-old Chipper Jones or 19-year-old Bryce Harper? Could hometown hero Billy Butler produce a key hit to wash away all the boos rained down on Robinson Cano during the Home Run Derby? Or can Cano endear himself to the local fans by helping orchestrate an American League win? OK, that last outcome seems unlikely. But anything is possible at the Midsummer Classic.. except for a tie. Because it counts.
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Melky Cabrera named All-Star Game MVP. The Giants' outfielder finished 2 for 3 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored.
Papelbon secures shutout in 8-0 win by getting Matt Weiters to fly out.
Hanrahan gets Butler to go down swinging and then gets the hook. Papelbon coming on the final out.
|@ billbarnwell : Total for this game in Vegas was 8.5 runs. Some people VERY angry that that wild pitch didn't result in a run.|
No, the AL hasn't stormed back. But Hanrahan can't find Ruiz' glove. Andrus up to third on first wild pitch. He stays there on the second.
With Billy Butler up next (and drawing a loud cheer), Mets manager Terry Collins trots out to pull Miley. He induced a ground ball from Andrus that erased Mauer. That's one on and one out for Butler. Hanrahan on.
|@ richarddeitsch : The Fox Sports suits know what's coming: An ugly rating manana. Non competitive from the jump equals small tune-in late.|
The Twins' metronome takes the lefty to center field. One on for the AL. Elvis Andrus up.
Down to its last three outs, the American League faces D-Backs pitcher Wade Miley.
With his hat askew, Rays reliever Fernando Rodney induces three straight ground ball outs. We're on to the bottom of the ninth. Do the AL guys have an 8-run rally in that dugout?
|@ beckjason : #FernandoRodneyCrookedHatAlert|
After Trout worked a walk, Chapman gets Trumbo swinging to end the eighth. The NL still leads big. The AL still being shutout.
Largely by laying off the heat, Trout earns a walk. He's reached base in first two All-Star plate appearances. The first against a knuckleballer. The second against a flamethrower.
The Reds' flamethrower replaces Kimbrel and Mike Trout is up with two away. What a matchup!
Craig Kimbrel takes over for the home eighth and is dealing. Asdrubal Cabrera goes down looking. Ian Kinsler goes down swinging. Filthy stuff from the 24-year-old righty.
Speedy NL reserves get out and back into the dugout quickly in the home top of the eighth. Altuve is a stop slow on near-single to Kinsler. Castro flies out. Bourn goes down swinging on four pitches. It maybe the All-Star Game but it's also an 8-0 blowout.
|@ ClaytonKersh22 : what a night! had the best time being here with all these guys. thankful I didn't give up the shut out either!#ASG|
After sitting down Billy Butler handles a pair of representatives from Camden Yards. Weiters gives a pitch a ride to left but Harper catches it (after taking a less-than-sure route). Jones grounds to first and loses a footrace against Hamels. NL leads 8-0 through 7.
|@ RADickey43 : just came out of the game. what a fantastic experience. thank you so much everyone for your support. #asg|
Butler rips a ball low up the third-base line but David Wright snags and fires to first. One down.
|@ NotBillWalton : Billy Butler will try not to disappoint this home crowd. Striking out on 4 pitches instead of 3 would be good enough for Royals fans.|
The local favorite leads off the AL seventh. Cole Hamels replaces R.A. Dickey, who went from potentially starting to one inning of midgame mop-up duty.
Cook dominates NL batters in top seventh, bookending strikeouts (Harper, Wright) around a fly out from Ruiz.
|@ cfly : Wow. Erin Andrews' first appearance on FOX is pretty awkward and average.|
|@ russbengtson : The MLB All-Star Game really needs more cross-promotions and media intrusion. It's way too pure for my taste. THIS TWEET PRESENTED BY CHEVY.|
Ryan Cook on the hill for the A's. He gets Harper on strikes. La Russa sticking with the kid.
|@ BryanHoch : Cano said people were yelling at his family when they went to the bathroom. Nothing physical happened.|
The National League is preserved through six. Dickey induces a double play off the bat of Miguel Cabrera. Royals fans boo as Butler was on deck.
Konerko takes his base after Dickey appeared to hit him in the elbow. The smile on Konerko's face either means he wasn't hit or that he's laughing about facing the knuckeball. Either way, not a great start to the inning for Dickey. Two on.