Excitement builds as All-Stars align in New York
Mets welcome Midsummer Classic back to Queens for first time since 1964
NEW YORK -- For weeks, All-Star managers Jim Leyland and Bruce Bochy stressed over their rosters, trying to find the right mix. Chevrolet Home Run Derby captains Robinson Cano and David Wright made their selections, preparing for a night of free-swinging bluster. The game's elite players wrapped up their stellar first halves, finalizing arrangements to fly to Queens.
With those players now arriving from points around the country, more than a year's worth of planning has culminated in this: the 84th All-Star Game at Citi Field.
"I'm thrilled with the situation now," Leyland said, "because now's the enjoyable part."
The 2013 All-Star Game will take place at Citi Field on Tuesday, with airtime at 7:30 p.m. ET and the game beginning at 8 ET. Visit MLB.com for extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
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 2013 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.
This year's game takes place at Citi Field in Queens, a borough that has not seen an All-Star Game in nearly a half-century. Though New York City boasts a rich All-Star tradition, most recently hosting at the old Yankee Stadium in 2008, the Mets held their only Midsummer Classic during Shea Stadium's inaugural 1964 season.
"It makes for pretty good excitement," said Wright, a seven-time All-Star who, along with pitcher Matt Harvey, will play in his home park.
The last time New York hosted the Midsummer Classic, Josh Hamilton put on a show in the Home Run Derby in the Bronx. The American League outlasted the National League in 15 innings the following night, creating one of the most memorable All-Star weeks in recent history.
That was five years ago and the game has changed significantly since then, thanks in large part to a remarkable infusion of young stars. Among those making their All-Star debuts at Citi Field will be Orioles slugger Manny Machado, Giants and D-backs lefties Madison Bumgarner and Patrick Corbin, Rays pitcher Matt Moore, Harvey and others -- all aged 24 or younger. It's a list that does not even include phenoms Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, both of whom will be making their second All-Star appearances.
"It feels good," Trout said. "I'm just happy to be a part of something special. Making the All-Star Game, it feels great."
"I mean it's crazy," Machado said of earning a ticket at such a young age. "It's crazy what I've been through my first year in Major League Baseball."
That's not to say the game is all about youth. Wright, who turned 30 last winter, will headline an NL starting lineup that includes 36-year-old Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, 32-year-old Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and 31-year-old Cards catcher Yadier Molina. Combined, those four players boast 23 All-Star appearances.
The AL will counter with a mix of young stars and established veterans, including Twins catcher Joe Mauer, Yankees second baseman Cano and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz.
The field also includes Orioles breakout star Chris Davis, who is on pace to flirt with 60 home runs, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who will make his third All-Star appearance at age 25, Final Vote winners Steve Delabar of the Blue Jays and Freddie Freeman of the Braves, and so many others.
"Somebody asked me, 'If I told you you would be up for consideration three years ago …' I would have laughed at them," Delabar said. "You just go day by day, and [you] just work hard for the future and hope that all things play out. You never expect something like this to happen."
Now he and others will descend upon Citi Field, which is uniquely suited for the event. In building their new stadium, the Mets drew upon the best elements of parks throughout baseball, from the bridge motif of PNC Park in Pittsburgh, to the right-field overhang of Comerica Park in Detroit, to the vast outfield gaps of Coors Field.
The ballpark also draws heavily from old Ebbets Field in Brooklyn -- particularly with its Jackie Robinson Rotunda -- and incorporates elements from Shea, such as the Home Run Apple in center field and the fluorescent skyline mounted above Shake Shack.
Consider it an All-Star setting for the Midsummer Classic, which should be a spectacle of New York-sized proportions.
"A lot of players don't get the opportunity to participate in one All-Star Game," Wright said. "This year being at home, obviously it's special."