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This year’s All-Star Game musical guests announced


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:

Pirates expressing interest in Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has become the king of the reclamation project. And it sounds like he’s about to take on another big one …

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Pirates have expressed interest in free agent Justin Masterson. The expectation is that it will be a one-year deal with the goal of rebuilding the right-hander’s value in an environment where many other struggling veteran pitchers have executed significant career turnarounds.

Masterson earned his first (and only) All-Star nod in 2013 when he registered a 3.45 ERA, 195 strikeouts, and three shutouts in 32 appearances with the Indians. But he had a 5.88 ERA in 128 2/3 innings between Cleveland and St. Louis in 2014 and he continued struggling to the tune of a 5.61 ERA with the Red Sox in 2015.

It’s not clear whether the Bucs would try him as a starter or reliever.

Zack Greinke deal “could come soon,” Dodgers and Giants lead the bidding

Zack Greinke
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Jordan Zimmermann signed with the Tigers on Sunday for five years, $110 million. David Price signed with the Red Sox on Tuesday for seven years, $217 million.

Two big dominos have fallen in this loaded free agent market for starting pitchers, and another big one is about to go …

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says a deal for Zack Greinke “could come soon” and it’s currently “Dodgers vs. Giants” at the top of the bidding ladder.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick confirms that both the Dodgers and Giants are looking for an answer from Greinke, adding that the 32-year-old right-hander seeks a five- or six-year deal with a greater average annual value (AAV) than what Price just secured from Boston. That number would be $31 million, so we’re talking something close to $32 million through 2020-2021.

Greinke opted out of the remaining three years and $71 million contract with Los Angeles in October after posting a 1.66 ERA and 0.84 WHIP across 222 2/3 regular-season innings in 2015. He finished second to the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta in the National League Cy Young Award balloting.

The Red Sox get their ace! Boston signs David Price to a 7-year, $217 million deal


Multiple reports circulated in the past week that the Red Sox would need to unload the money truck in order to sign David Price. Well, the truck just got unloaded: Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have signed David Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract.

This is, by far, the largest free agent contract the Red Sox have ever given a pitcher. It beats Max Scherzer‘s seven-year, $210 million deal signed last offseason as the largest ever free agent pitcher contract. Clayton Kershaw‘s contract extension with the Dodgers was for $215 million.

Price went 82-47 with a 3.18 ERA pitching in the AL East while with the Tampa Bay Rays. After being traded to the Tigers just before the 2014 trade deadline he went 13-8 with a 2.90 ERA in 32 starts. He returned to the AL East with the Blue Jays this year, going 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts. He also pitched in the playoffs for the Jays starting three times in four overall appearances.

The Red Sox were in dire need of pitching and they were said to be gunning for Price to fill that need. Target: acquired.

Major League Baseball’s annual drug testing report has been released

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MLB and the MLBPA just released the annual public report from the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program’s Independent Program Administrator. It’s the annual report, mandated by the JDA, which says how many positive drug tests there were, what the drugs were, etc.

The notable numbers, which cover the period starting when the 2014 World Series ended until the 2015 World Series ended:

  • Total number of tests administered: 8,158. 6,536 of them were urine tests, 1,622 of them were blood tests for HGH;
  • 10 tests resulted in positives which led to discipline: 7 for PEDs, 2 for stimulants, one for DHEA;
  • The previous year there were 7,929 total tests with 12 which resulted in discipline;
  • There were the same number of Therapeutic Use Exemptions granted this year as last: 113. All but two were for attention deficit disorder. One was for gynecomastia, which is the swelling of the breast tissue in men due to a hormone imbalance, one was for a stress fracture in someone’s elbow.

A use exemption line item which had appeared on the list for the previous several years — hypogonadism — was not there, so congratulations to the anonymous player who was either cured or who retired.

As we always note, the number of players who got exemptions for ADD drugs is a bit higher than the occurrence of ADD in the population at large and, once you eliminate kids from ADHD occurrences, it’s likely considerably higher. But that’s none of my business.