Every All-Star Game, the natural in-season antagonism established by the uniforms is made to disappear for one game. For fans, it's incredible to see the game's biggest rivals play alongside each other with a shared goal: Adrian Beltre at third base alongside Derek Jeter at shortstop, or Clayton Kershaw on the mound with Buster Posey behind the plate, all for home-field advantage in the World Series.
As loved as the status quo is, there's another approach to the All-Star Game that could be taken, with borrowed inspiration from the Futures Game, already a part of the All-Star festivities. That contest, a Minor League showcase, pits U.S.-born players against those from other countries. The World Baseball Classic, now on an every-four-years schedule, tugs on those same heartstrings of national pride.
What if the All-Star Game wasn't National League vs. American League, but homeland vs. homeland?
The Rangers' Michael Young said he, Beltre and Elvis Andrus were talking about it in Spring Training when the World Baseball Classic was brought up.
"That would be pretty cool," Young said. "We talked about what the teams would be like. The United States' pitching would be ridiculously deep. I know Adrian talked about the position players just from the Dominican Republic. It was a phenomenal list. It would definitely be a cool concept. The great thing is you can field a good team, just from one country. The Dominican team would be great, the Venezuelan team would be great and the Japan team would be great. The team from the United States would really be tough to score against."
It might be hard to gain traction, though.
"I don't know, I never thought about it," said David Ortiz, one of the greats from the Dominican Republic who may well be this year's starting designated hitter for the AL. "That'd be interesting. That'd be interesting."
Ortiz's manager with the Red Sox, Bobby Valentine, has seen baseball's impact internationally more than most. He spent six seasons with the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball from 2004-09, and that was actually Valentine's second stint as the Marines' manager.
Famously, Valentine once suggested the NPB's winner should take on MLB's winner annually. That's a suggestion he sticks by.
"They should do that -- for charity," Valentine said.
As for switching the Midsummer Classic to a Futures Game-style roster: "I don't think so," Valentine said. "That's what they do in the Minor Leagues, right? I don't know. It doesn't light my fire. Might have fan interest, I'm not sure."
David Wright, the Mets third baseman who's a five-time All-Star and a former Home Run Derby participant, has an if-it-ain't-broke-then-don't-fix-it approach.
"I like the All-Star Game the way it is. I think it's a really nice format," Wright said. "I enjoy the whole process. I think out of all the All-Star Games throughout the different sports -- and I'm a little biased, obviously -- but I think that we have the best format. The game actually means something. It actually means quite a bit. It was fun when I played in the Futures Game and did the whole World vs. U.S.-type thing. That was fun. But I kind of like it the way it is."
This year's All-Star Game is to be played July 10 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Fans can cast their votes for the starting lineups up to 25 times at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or via a mobile device -- using the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot until Thursday, June 28, at 11:59 p.m. ET.
Fans can also once again participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the State Farm Home Run Derby. The 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day, will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 9.
The 2012 AL and NL All-Star teams will be unveiled on Sunday, July 1, on the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show, televised nationally on TBS. Baseball fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2012 All-Star Game Final Vote on MLB.com.
The voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the official voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the official vote determining the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
Visit MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 83rd All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and Sirius XM also will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. More information is available at allstargame.com