Prediction One: There will be Tears
Some of baseball’s most memorable good-byes have come at the MLB All-Star Game: Alex Rodriguez pushing Cal Ripken, Jr. into the shortstop position in 2001, Mariano Rivera entering the game by himself last year, the tributes to Ted Williams at Fenway Park in 1999 and Willie Mays at AT&T Park in 2007, etc. Expect Derek Jeter’s final All-Star appearance to feature a touching moment or three … and a line-drive single to right field. MLB is also planning a tribute to the late Tony Gwynn, who was universally admired as one of the greatest ambassadors (as well as one of the best hitters) in the history of the sport. There shouldn’t be a dry eye in the house.
Prediction Two: The Winner will Spark Twitterage
Homefield advantage for the World Series used to alternate leagues every year, which wasn’t particularly fair to the two teams involved, but since it had always been done that way, people rarely complained. When the rules were changed to award homefield to the league that won the All-Star Game, there was outrage over the idea that an exhibition could impact something as important as World Series homefield. Really, this isn’t any more or less fair than the previous system, but people like to complain, so complain they will. No one will remember the outrage, or the final score, in two weeks time.
Prediction Three: Clayton Kershaw will Steal the Show
Mike Matheny had very good reasons for picking Adam Wainwright to start the All-Star Game, but his best pitcher will be the one who replaces Wainwright. Kershaw has been simply remarkable this season. With no need to hold anything back in a short outing, Kershaw should make the entire AL squad look like the 2014 San Diego Padres.
Prediction Four: There will be Fireworks
So far this season, only Coors Field and Busch Stadium have been better ballparks to hit in than Target Field (just ask Ricky Nolasco). While All-Star Games generally favor the pitchers because hitters don’t have time to settle in on a pitcher, this game should see some offense, especially with the DH in play.
Prediction Five: The MVP will be Derek Jeter
The fans get a say in the MVP voting in the form of online votes and the Captain will get plenty of push from the Interwebz, even if he isn’t a clear-cut choice for the winner. The MVP trophy will be a much nicer parting gift for Jeter than the random assortment of items he has received during his farewell tour thus far.