Controversy has already surrounded the 83rd annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game long before Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander takes the mound at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City Tuesday—raising the question of whether Major League Baseball has actually succeeded in making people care about the All-Star Game.
After 2002's tied-game debacle in Milwaukee, MLB enacted a series of changes to the Mid-Summer Classic, deciding to expand the rosters, giving the winning league home-field advantage in the World Series, and making changes to the way Home Run Derby participants are selected.
This year, there's plenty of hand-wringing to go around: Should retired St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa have chosen Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who has befuddled National League hitters all season, to start the game? Can Giants catcher Buster Posey catch a knuckleball? Was 19-year-old Nationals phenom Bryce Harper right to be chosen for the game after spending a good portion of the first half of the season in the minors? Should LaRussa be managing at all?
And—after Royals fans spent most of last night booing Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano for not choosing hometown hero Billy Butler to participate in the Home Run Derby—should anyone be booing at the All-Star Game? All of these controversies just reinforce one thing: People care about the All-Star Game.
The American League didn't lose a contest between 1997 and 2009, but the National League won the past two. The league's World Series representative has gone on to win the last two championships.
The AL will call on Verlander, upstart Los Angeles Angels rookie Mike Trout, and NL defector (and last night's Derby winner) Prince Fielder to snap the losing streak. The NL counters with Harper, San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain, who threw a perfect game earlier this season, and will hope for some last-ditch magic from Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, who will be playing in his eighth and final All Star game—the 40-year-old announced in March he would retire at the end of this season.
Pregame ceremonies start at 7:30 p.m. on Fox.
Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org