The All-Star entertainers and first-pitch-throwers are announced

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This is news you can use: pregame ceremonies and entertainers and stuff for the All-Star Game, the Home Run Derby and the Future’s Game:

Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and actress Ciara will sing the U.S. National Anthem and Leo Welsh will perform the Canadian Anthem as part of the pregame ceremony prior to the All-Star Game . . . multi-platinum-selling MCA Nashville recording artist Josh Turner will sing “God Bless America.”

I am not sure if I should be ashamed or pleased that I do not know who these people are. Well, I learned who Ciara was yesterday because there was some weird nonsense about her and Russell Wilson in the news, but I couldn’t pick her out of a lineup I don’t think. If you held a gun to my head I’d have told you that Josh Turner was a righty relief prospect in, I dunno, the Rockies organization.

Following the U.S. National Anthem, the U.S. Navy will conduct a flyover featuring four FA-18 Super Hornets from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Remember kids, this could be advertising!

One of the “Greatest Living Players” will throw out the Ceremonial First Pitch.

That’s from that “Franchise Four” thing, part of which involved fans voting for the four “Greatest Living Players.” The last time voting results were revealed, the four leaders were Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver. As we discussed at the time, two of them have a good argument for Greatest Living Player, Seaver has an argument for Greatest Living Pitcher perhaps and Koufax is, I’m sure a nice fellow who would be interesting to talk to. I figure Mays REALLY is the Greatest Living Player, but I’d love for MLB to troll everyone and have Barry Bonds do it. That would mean that Great American Ballpark would have, like, 40,000 angry people + me laughing my head off.

Before the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, teenager Marlana VanHoose will sing the U.S. National Anthem and Reds legend and three-time Home Run Derby Champion Ken Griffey Jr. will throw the Ceremonial First Pitch.

There are first pitches before a Home Run Derby? Ok! Also, I hope that, after Griffey tosses out that pitch, Marty Brennaman rips into him for dogging it out there. I miss the early-to-mid 2000s sometimes and it’d be fun the relive them.

Prior to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday, July 12th the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra Brass Ensemble will treat fans to a special rendition of the U.S. National Anthem.  Later, The Mistics will perform “God Bless America.”

First time I read that I thought it said “The Misfits” will perform “God Bless America.” No offense to The Mistics, but that would be way cooler.

Anyway, now you know what will be happening while you get beer, go to the bathroom and talk to your friends while waiting for the actual action to start.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.