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And now the main event: the actual All-Star Game

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SAN DIEGO — We’ve had a couple of days of hype, but now we get an actual baseball game. At least insofar as you can call the All-Star Game real baseball. It certainly has its challenges in this regard, focused mostly on player usage, but unlike the other sports’ All-Star games, each individual interaction here — pitcher vs. batter and the reaction of defenders — is good and true. Unless of course Jose Fernandez has anything to say about it.

Before the game gets started there will still be some pomp circumstance and the like. A brief rundown:

  • The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Padres (team) Hall of Famer and 1976 National League Cy Young Award Winner Randy Jones. Jones started for the National League in the 1976 All-Star Game and is a local institution here in San Diego;
  • The U.S. National Anthem will be performed by pop star Rachel Platten. The Tenors will perform the Canadian National Anthem. We will have no Dominican Republic or Venezuelan National Anthem, but we really should;
  • The giant flag will be held by 275 Marines. Unlike past displays of military appreciation and patriotic fervor at other ballparks, the military also happens to be the primary local industry here in San Diego, so it’s particularly appropriate here. We’ll also get a flyover of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
  • The official game ball will be delivered by Padres (team) Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman. He’ll be a Baseball Hall of Famer one day too.
  • 2015-2016 Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Youth of the Year Whitney Stewart will yell “Play Ball!” prior to the game.

As a reminder, here are the lineups:

American League Lineup

1. Jose Altuve 2b
2. Mike Trout CF
3. Manny Machado 3B
4. David Ortiz DH
5. Xander Bogaerts SS
6. Eric Hosmer 1B
7. Mookie Betts RF
8. Salvador Perez C
9. Jackie Bradley Jr. LF

Chris Sale of the White Sox gets the start.

National League Lineup:

1. Ben Zobrist 2B
2. Bryce Harper RF
3. Kris Bryant 3B
4. Wil Myers DH
5. Buster Posey C
6. Anthony Rizzo 1B
7. Marcell Ozuna CF
8. Carlos Gonzalez LF
9. Addison Russell SS

Johnny Cueto of the Giants is the starter.

As far as predictions go, eh, who knows? How do you predict this stuff? But let’s try:

Bill: National League 5, American League 3
Craig: American League 6, National League 4

Non-outcome prediction:

Bill: Stephen Vogt racks up 10 passed balls on Steven Wright‘s knuckleball
Craig: David Ortiz is named MVP of the game, even if he goes 0-for-3 and falls asleep during the game. Some things are pre-ordained.

Finally, go to NBC Sports’ Facebook page to go see my Livestream video from before the game here. Go there after the top of the fifth inning for a second livestream I’ll be doing from here at Petco during the game.

Play ball!

Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 season

Kopech has opted out
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Michael Kopech has opted out of the 2020 season. The White Sox starter informed the team of his decision today, and the team issued a press release to that affect a few minutes ago.

The statement from general manager Rick Hahn. said “we recognize that reaching this decision is incredibly difficult for any competitive athlete, and our organization is understanding and supportive. We will work with Michael to assure his development continues throughout 2020, and we look forward to welcoming him back into our clubhouse for the 2021 season.”

Kopech, 24, has only four big league starts under his belt, all coming in late August and early September of 2018, but after a strong spring training he was likely to make Chicago’s rotation at some point in the 2020 season after sitting out all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery. Kopech was among the players sent to Chicago from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade back in December 2016. Others involved in the deal included Yoán Moncada, Victor Diaz, and Luis Alexander Basabe.

Now, however, Kopech has opted out.