MINNEAPOLIS, MN — The salad is finished. Bring on the steak.
We have spent 48 hours looking at the Future, watching a sideshow and gazing at baseball’s navel. Now that that is over the All-Star Game itself is at hand. And, no matter what you think of it, the fact that it is the only baseball game around makes it worth your time.
The starting pitchers and starting lineups are set. Here’s the order A.L. starter Felix Hernandez will face to start things off:
And the hometown nine, technically speaking anyway, which will do battle with N.L. starter Adam Wainwright:
The National League seems to have the stronger set of starters on paper. It’s certainly no walkover, but the outfield defense is unusually strong here, and that could make a big difference.
Of course, the starters may have the lease amount of impact on this game. Given how All-Star managers have taken to trying to get every player on the roster into the game at some point, bench players and relievers are going to play a large part in how this All-Star Game goes.
But make no mistake: no matter what happens on the field, the star of tonight’s show is going to be Derek Jeter. He’ll lead off to a huge amount of applause and he’ll be paid multiple tributes both at the ballpark and on the Fox broadcast. If he does anything notable — say, hit a homer in his final All-Star Game like Cal Ripken did several years ago, Katie bar the door.
Yes, it’s an exhibition, but it’s one with a great pedigree. And one, as the name promises, that is loaded with stars. It’s easy to get cynical about a lot in this world, but if you’re cynical about the All-Star Game, well, I feel kinda bad for you.