Quick note of apology here from Jarrod: Jamie’s boss, Reds Media Relations Director Rob Butcher, sent in the following piece of outstanding blogwork last week and unfortunately, yours truly didn’t have a chance to schedule this for your reading pleasure over the weekend before I made my own getaway to St. Louis. I guess that’s another reason why I’m the fill-in and not the real deal, eh? Anyway, hope you enjoy Rob’s great post today and I’m sure Jamie will be back to take the controls again soon (yes, very fortunate for all of you!).


First, let me say what a privilege it is to be a “guest blogger” on Better Off Red, the top-rated MLB Pro Blog. Jamie Ramsey will be back next week, but for the next few days keep checking in to see whose thoughts might occupy this space. As we approach Tuesday’s 82nd All-Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix (I will refrain from “dry heat” jokes), I thought I might share some of the cooler things that go on during All-Star weekend, stuff you might not normally hear about.

It all begins Friday morning, when MLB All-Star Fan Fest opens at the Phoenix Convention Center. Think Redsfest, only bigger (but not by much). Friday afternoon, there will be a donation ribbon cutting for the Children’s Hospital Starlight Fun Center at St. Joe’s Hospital and an All-Star challenger champions game at Chase Field for children with physical and mental challenges. All weekend long, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the beautiful new spring training home of the Diamondbacks and Rockies, will host Jr. RBI Classic Games. MLB’s All-Star “Rebuilding Together” project will kick off Saturday morning at the Arizona State Veterans Home.

Taco Bell All-Star Sunday features the 13th annual XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field, which showcases some of the best young talent in baseball and can be seen live on ESPN2 at 6:00 p.m. ET and heard on MLB Network Radio XM 89. Reds farmhands catcher Devin Mesoraco and infielder/outfielder Yonder Alonso will represent the U.S. and World teams. Both players were first-round picks by the Reds, Alonso in 2008 (7th overall) and Mesoraco in 2007 (15th). This year’s teams will be managed by Mike Piazza (U.S.) and Diamondbacks legend Luis Gonzalez (World).

The XM All-Star Futures Game will be followed by the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, which will include appearances by Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton, Chris Pratt of Parks and Recreation and of the new baseball movie Moneyball, Greg Grunberg from Love Bites and Heroes, Jake T. Austin from Wizards of Waverly Place, Dave Annable from Brothers and Sisters and Transformers, Southland star Amaury Nolasco, Extra host AJ Calloway, James Denton of Desperate Housewives, top country music performer Jason Aldean, pop artist Nick Jonas, American Idol winner and Arizona native Jordin Sparks, Glee sensation Chord Overstreet, Tim DeKay from White Collar, Jesse Williams from Grey’s Anatomy, Paul Dimeo from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Tom Papa from The Marriage Ref, Arizona Cardinals player Larry Fitzgerald and USA Softball’s Jennie Finch, a University of Arizona alum. Former Major Leaguers scheduled to participate are Gonzalez, Mark Grace, Fred Lynn, Piazza, Steve Garvey and Bernie Williams along with Cooperstown Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson and Ozzie Smith.

The fun for the players begins Monday morning, when All-Star press conferences are held in the team hotel ballroom. All players attend these 50-minute sessions in which they each have their own table, and the media floats from player to player. The clubhouses are closed Monday prior to batting practice and won’t open until after the State Farm Home Run Derby, so the morning press conferences are the only times media can be guaranteed access to the players that day.

Monday night’s popular State Farm Home Run Derby can be seen at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN. National League captain Prince Fielder selected as teammates Rickie Weeks, Matt Holliday and Matt Kemp, while AL captain David Ortiz chose Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista and Robinson Cano. A donation of $150,000 will be made to the winning captain’s favorite charity, while another $100,000 will be donated to the Boys & Girls Club of America in the name of the winner. Another $25,000 goes to the charity of the captain of the “losing” team.

Tuesday, the players get the “red carpet” treatment. For the last several years, on All-Star Game day, the players hitch a ride to the ballpark along a red carpet, which depending on the venue can be a couple miles long. The parade is very festive, but considering the heat in Phoenix this time of year, it will be very short. Other than the parade, the schedule on Tuesday is pretty normal for the players. They’ll arrive at the ballpark, take batting practice and then, well, it’s showtime. They live for this.

I’ll be working for Major League Baseball all weekend, which doesn’t leave me a lot of time to blog, but I’ll keep my eyes on Reds All-Stars Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Scott Rolen. If anything unusual happens, I may make another appearance in this space…..

Rob (2nd from left) walking alongside the 2010 Reds' All-Star contingent in Anaheim.

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