All-Star rosters a great mix of icons and fast risers
Welcome to the revolution. First, though, let's welcome Derek Jeter to his 13th All-Star Game. Would it be an All-Star Game without him?
David Ortiz is back for the eighth time. He, too, belongs in this game. Justin Verlander is an All-Star again, and so are Josh Hamilton and Joe Mauer and plenty of other household names.
That's how it should be. The All-Star Game rewards great first-half performances, but it must always honor the players fans still love.
And it's not just fans.
The 83rd Major League Baseball 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. Pregame ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com. Now about the revolution. Jeter is going to see plenty of new faces, players he has heard about and will get a chance to meet and compete with.
The Midsummer Classic, to be played on July 10 at Kauffman Stadium, will have 23 first-timers -- 14 in the National League, nine in the American League.
If you run your finger down the list of names, you'll see it.
Stephen Strasburg and Mike Trout. Aroldis Chapman and Chris Sale. Mark Trumbo and Buster Posey.
This All-Star Game is for them, too. Fans around the world will get a first-hand look at baseball's new generation of stars.
One of the best things about this game is the opportunity to see Jeter and Verlander in the same dugout with Trout and Trumbo.
One of the thrills young All-Stars talk about is being able to share a clubhouse with the best of the best.
Jeter represents a generation of players that young guys measured themselves against and wanted to be like. He stood for everything the game was supposed to be about.
This has felt like a transition season anyway, with at least 20 teams still in contention, including iconic franchises like the Dodgers, Pirates and Orioles.
Along the way, dozens of young stars have emerged. We wanted to see Strasburg pitch. It seems like we've been hearing about Trout forever, even if he's just 20 years old.
He plays the game with a joy and energy that seems to have helped transform an entire team.
Sale, 23, is like that. He pitched his last college game a little more than two years ago, and already he is dominating hitters and helping the White Sox vault into first place.
Chapman, 24, will be in his first All-Star Game two years after defecting from Cuba and signing with the Reds. We were told he had a 100-mph fastball. We were told he was close to unhittable. We rolled our eyes.
The Reds began this season committed to moving him from the bullpen to the starting rotation. Injuries forced him to become the Cincinnati closer, and in 36 1/3 innings, he has 64 strikeouts.
And there are the special stories.
R.A. Dickey is a first-time All-Star at 37. He has had to reinvent himself a time or two and ignore plenty of people who didn't think he was good enough.
Dickey finally has harnessed that dipping, darting knuckleball and won more games (12) than any other NL pitcher.
Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair also took the long road to this All-Star Game, spending parts of nine seasons in the Minor Leagues before winning a regular job this spring.
His future is uncertain now that the Cubs have called up their best young prospect, Anthony Rizzo, to play first. But with 13 home runs, LaHair has done enough to show he belongs somewhere.
To have a clubhouse with Dickey and LaHair calling Joey Votto a teammate for a day is one of the things that makes this game so intriguing. It's a wonderful blend of new and old, of players who've made meteoric rises and those who got here with the sheer force of their own will. It's why we love this stuff.
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.