The 87th MLB All-Star Game takes place this coming Tuesday, July 12, from Petco Park in San Diego, home of the Padres. The winning league, per usual since 2003, will earn home-field advantage in this fall's World Series. Fans have voted on the starters, the reserves have been announced and the Final Vote to determine each league's last roster player ended today.
But there's more to the MLB All-Star Break than just the game. Yes, there is the Home Run Derby, too, but there are several activities involved this weekend.
Sunday, July 10:
MLB Futures Game (7 p.m. ET on MLB Network)
While the MLB teams finish up their last games before the mid-season break, some of baseball's best minor league stars get the opportunity to kick off the events with the MLB Futures Game. First held in 1999, this game features top prospects hailing from the United States taking on top prospects who come from the rest of the world. The games are the normal nine innings in length, but only two extra innings may be played if necessary, and pitchers are limited to just one inning pitched.
Former Futures Game Larry Doby Award winners (MVPs) include Alfonso Soriano, Jose Reyes, Grady Sizemore, Aaron Hill, Billy Butler and Kyle Schwarber (who won the award last year).
Monday, July 11:
Home Run Derby (8 p.m. ET on ESPN)
Time to swing for the fences with the T-Mobile Home Run Derby. This event has been held annually since 1985 (except for 1988, when it was rained out). Last year's event featured an overhaul of the old format -- which was based on "outs," or when players failed to homer. Under this newest format, batters compete in head-to-head matchups with each player having five minutes to make Chris Berman yell "Back-back-back-back" and gone with as many home runs as possible.
An extra minute is granted if a player hits two dingers 420 feet or more, and an extra 30 seconds if he hits one at least 475 feet. A 90-second swing-off, a three-round swing-off and sudden death swing-off, in order, act as tiebreakers.
Inclement weather almost ruined last year's derby in Cincinnati, but it did force MLB to lower the time limit per player from five minutes to four. The new format must have worked, as the derby saw its highest ratings since 2009. This year's participants will be Mark Trumbo (Baltimore Orioles), Corey Seager (Los Angeles Dodgers), Robinson Cano (Seattle Mariners), Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins), Adam Duvall (Cincinnati Reds), Wil Myers (San Diego Padres), Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado Rockies) and defending champion Todd Frazier (Chicago White Sox).
All-Star Legends and Celebrities Softball Game (After the end of the Home Run Derby, ESPN)
This one isn't so much a competitive event with MLB players, as it is a friendly exhibition, but I love it regardless. First held in 2001, this softball game brings together some of the game's greats, and other celebrities, including actors, athletes from outside baseball, musicians and two Wounded Warrior players.
Former players coming for this year's event include Andre Dawson, Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines and Trevor Hoffman. Celebrity participants include SNL cast member Kyle Mooney, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy and U.S. soccer legend Landon Donovan.
And yes, I know I didn't give a specific time for the game's start. ESPN list it as 10 p.m., but the derby will go on longer than two hours. Trust me.
Tuesday, July 12:
MLB All-Star Red Carpet Show (4 p.m. ET on MLB Network. Following this all of MLB Network's usual 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. ET programming will be "All-Star" editions)
This show features a lot of interviews and pre-game talk. If you like the glitz and glamour of award ceremony Red Carpet shows or want to see players talk, you might not mind this. If you just want to see the action, this is a show you can skip. The other MLB Network programming should just be the same programs you know, just with a lot of All-Star talk.
MLB All-Star Game (8 p.m. ET on FOX [pregame at 7:30 p.m. ET])
This is THE event. Baseball's brightest and best will shine from the player introductions to the game's final pitch. Everyone wants to see their favorite athletes, but at the same time, they'd like their league to have home-field advantage in the World Series. It could make quite the difference come October.
Also, fun fact: This will be the first MLB All-Star Game to have the designated home team be the opposite league of the stadium's home team. While Petco Park is home to the National League's San Diego Padres, the American League will be the home team, as this is the second straight year an NL park hosts the game, with two consecutive more on the way.
Wednesday, July 13:
The 2016 ESPYs (8 p.m. ET on ABC)
While not directly related to the All-Star Game itself, the day after the game is the only day where none of the North American sports leagues have any games scheduled, meaning many athletes can attend this award ceremony. The ESPYs celebrate the best moments and best athletes in sports within the last year. The 2016 ESPYs will be hosted by WWE superstar John Cena.
That's your guide to the MLB All-Star break. After this, get ready for the Trade Deadline and the second half of the 2016 season.