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This year’s All-Star Game musical guests announced

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Remember when Major League Baseball had Bread sing “Make it with you” before the 1972 All-Star Game and Bob Gibson killed David Gates with his bare hands? Man, that was epic.

We live in a more genteel time now, however, and today’s baseball players don’t much mind it when the All-Star pregame is turned into a vehicle for promoting pop stars and things. Thus, last year, Pitbull performed before the game. This year, there are other acts at the various All-Star events:

Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel will sing the U.S. National Anthem . . . prior to the National Anthem, Menzel will perform the classic song “Forever Young” by 11-time Grammy-Award winner Bob Dylan, who is a Minnesota native . . .

First of all, she should do “Brownsville Girl” if she does any Dylan song because that’s a sweet, overlooked jam.

Second: while “Forever Young” is going to be part of a ceremony honoring “30 “All-Star Teachers” who have made an impact on their community, the part of me that hates you all and wants to see the world burn wants them to turn the song into a Jeter serenade. Picture him on a chair in front of home plate, all of the other All-Stars surrounding him with adoring looks on their faces as “may yoooou staaaayyy . . . . foreeeeeh-eh-ver youuuunnnggg” echoes through the ballpark.

Third: I bet you all just threw up.

Anyway, what else ya got, MLB?

The MLB All-Star Musical Performance presented by Budweiser will feature singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc on-field prior to the Gillette Home Run Derby on July 14th on ESPN.

Happy birthday to me, I guess.

the Canadian Anthem will be performed by the Minnesota Orchestra Brass Quintet and God Bless America will be sung by American country music artist Joe Nichols.

If Justin Morneau wins The Final Vote, however, he’ll be doing it with Russell Martin accompanying him on traditional Canadian musical instruments which, I presume, exist.

Also joining the roster of musical performances during MLB All-Star Week is Panic! At the Disco, who will perform on-field prior to the Taco Bell™ All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game at Target Field on July 13th

Maybe not the top gig of the weekend, but Panic! At the Disco may be the biggest stars at the “celebrity” softball game.

The ticketed All-Star Pre-Game Celebration taking place outside of Target Field prior to the All-Star Game on Tuesday will feature American rock band O.A.R. and Minnesota’s A Capella group, Home Free.

I’ll be inside by then, trying to get that whole Jeter ceremony idea off the ground.

Grammy Award winning artists Imagine Dragons will headline the 2014 Target All-Star Concert presented by Budweiser with musical guest, Minnesota-based Atmosphere, on Saturday, July 12th, as part of MLB All-Star Week

Fine I guess. My kids like the “Radioactive” song. All of this needs more Baseball Project, however. If you want that, go to Durham:

Yordano Ventura represented the best and worst of baseball’s culture

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
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It was reported this morning that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Former prospect Andy Marte was also killed in a separate car accident. Along with Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, the baseball world has lost a lot of young, exciting talent in a very short amount of time.

Ventura was, like all of us, a complex human being. At his best, he was an exciting, talented, emotive pitcher who featured an electric fastball which sat in the mid-90’s and occasionally touched 100 MPH. At his worst, he was an immature, impressionable kid trying to fit in by exacting revenge against batters he felt had wronged him by slinging those electric fastballs at vulnerable areas of their bodies.

Baseball needed Ventura when he was at his best. It is players like him and Fernandez, not Mike Trout, that bring in new fans to the sport. To baseball die-hards, Angels outfielder Mike Trout is the pinnacle of entertainment because we know he’s an otherworldly talent. But to the average fan, Trout is just another player who hits a couple of homers and doesn’t do anything particularly interesting otherwise. Trout is milquetoast. Ventura was never an All-Star, but fans knew who he was because he made his presence felt every time he made a start. He was fun, if sometimes vengeful.

Ventura’s baseball rap sheet is rather lengthy for someone who only pitched parts of four seasons in the big leagues. Early in the 2015 season, Ventura found himself in a handful of benches-clearing incidents in quick succession. On April 12, he jawed with Trout, apparently misunderstanding the motivation behind Trout yelling, “Let’s go!” Though catcher Salvador Perez intervened, Trout’s teammate Albert Pujols ran in from second base and the benches cleared shortly thereafter. On the 18th, some drama between the Athletics and Royals continued. Ventura fired a 99 MPH fastball at Brett Lawrie, resulting in his immediate ejection from the game. More beanball wars ensued in the series finale the following day. Finally, on the 23rd, Ventura hit White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu with a 99 MPH fastball in the fourth inning. Ventura was not ejected… until after the completion of the seventh inning. Walking back to the dugout, Ventura barked at White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton and — you guessed it — the benches cleared. All told, Ventura was fined for his behavior with the Athletics and suspended seven games for the White Sox incident.

In August 2015, Ventura called Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista a “nobody” and accused him of stealing signs. He apologized shortly thereafter. Two months later, during his start in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, Ventura got into it with Jays first base coach Tim Leiper. Nothing happened beyond that, but apparently it was part of the Jays’ plan to try to put Ventura “on tilt.”

Most recently, in June this past season, Ventura hit Orioles third baseman Manny Machado with a pitch. Machado charged the mound and got in at least one punch before the players spilled out onto the field in a blob of royal blue and orange. Ventura was suspended for eight games.

Ventura was by no means a model of civility, but he was a product of baseball’s intransigent culture forcing players to assimilate or be ostracized. The old culture taught players to never show emotion. Hit a home run? Put your head down and circle the bases in a timely fashion or risk taking a fastball to the ribs. Players like Fernandez and Bautista — typically players from Latin countries — challenged those old cultural norms and are, as a result, the vanguard of the new culture. Ventura displayed aspects of each, the worst of the old culture and the best of the new. He was not a one-dimensional person; he was strikingly complex. At one moment willing to use a fastball as a weapon, the next stopping by some kids’ lemonade stand and giving out fist bumps. Baseball is made more entertaining and more interesting by its personalities and Ventura’s was a behemoth, for better or worse. His absence from the sport will be felt.

MLB remembers Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 28:  Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers in the first inning during a game against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2016 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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Following the tragic passing of 25-year-old Yordano Ventura and 33-year-old Andy Marte, both of whom were killed in separate car crashes on Sunday morning, players and executives from around Major League Baseball expressed an outpouring of grief and support for the players’ families and former teams.

Fans have gathered at Kauffman Stadium in memory of the former pitcher.