Feature photo by design-dog

Last night, on the heels of the World Cup, Angel Stadium in sunny Anaheim, CA hosted Major League Baseball’s 2010 All Star Game. As international as you can get without kicking around the ole futbol, the art of baseball is being practiced, refined, and conditioned into the mind, body, and soul of future MLB All Stars and World Baseball Classic heroes the world over.

For some of these international superstars, the future is now. Tuesday marked the date for the Midsummer Classic, the Millionaire Matchup of American League vs. National League, Major League Baseball’s 81st All Star Game!

The rosters on both sides speak volumes to the representation of America as a real melting pot and international work of art. But long before Bud Selig and Major League general managers got their greedy hands on their talents, the members of each roster were running around the dirty, hopeful sandlots as passionate kids of their native countries which span hemispheres, meridian lines, and tropics.

Two of MLB’s best players and biggest stars, 1B Albert Pujols and SS Hanley Ramirez hail from the baseball hotbed of the Dominican Republic along with fellow 2010 All Stars: 3B Adrian Beltre, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Vladimir Guerrero and 2010 Home Run Derby Champion David “Big Papi” Ortiz, P Ubaldo Jimenez, Neftali Feliz, Fausto Carmona, SS Rafael Furcal, Utility Man Jose Bautista, and Closers Rafael Soriano and Jose Valverde. Dominican Republic stand up!

Other countries represented in Tuesday’s game: United States of America (including All Star Game MVP, C Brian McCann), Canada (1B Justin Morneau), Japan (OF Ichiro Suzuki), Venezuela (Triple Crown threat Miguel Cabrera, SS Elvis Andrus, and C/1B Victor Martinez), Puerto Rico (C Yadier Molina), Panama (perpetual All Star and possibly the greatest closer of all time Mariano Rivera), and Mexico (P Joakim Soria and Yovani Gallardo).

The art of baseball was on full display Tuesday night, from the art of pitching to the art of fielding a groundball. The art of improvisation to the chesslike art of managing and coaching, as AL Manager Joe Girardi can attest to after some late game decision making came into play. The art of teamwork and unity to the art of individual expression in the batter’s box. The Sun Tzu-esque art of competition to the art of broadcasting by the veterans in the booth. The art of baseball on full display…’twas a beautiful thing!

The All Stars on the field Tuesday have mastered their craft, their artform, and the passion they’ve poured onto the fields across the globe over the years is rewarded with a showcase in their name. This year, there was a pre-game red carpet event, which is something new to me. I guess the aforementioned millions of dollars are just not enough anymore. They now need a red carpet event celebrating their talents? OK…

To me, when a player signs that ridiculously enormous contract to be lucky enough to play baseball for a living, guaranteeing the millions regardless of output and impact on the game, when that contract is already signed and in place, and they still go out and outperform, win, exceed their end of the contract…that is a true student of the game, a real Baseball Artist. They respect the game. They see the game as I do, as more than just a game, more than a sport, they see it as an artform.

It may have been dubbed as “America’s Pasttime,” and the World Series is not really a series involving the world, but the MLB All Star Game is truly an international showcase. Is each players’ participation in this game a rendition of manifest destiny or did each player simply control their destiny into an ascension to the highest ranks of the baseball world by working harder, studying longer, and respecting the history more? The beautiful thing about baseball is that it incorporates individual success and team glory side by side. Does the success of its players have anything to do with place of birth on our globe? And while we’re at it: what means more: winning the ironically named World Series, winning Baseball Olympic Gold, or winning the World Baseball Classic? It’s all about marketing, my friends.

And as any baseball aficianado can tell you, Major League Baseball may very well be the best marketing machine in all the world.

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