MLB All-Star Week in Cincinnati: A Truly Incredible Experience


All-Star week in Cincinnati has come and gone, and from my perspective, it was the highlight of 2015. I had been looking forward to last week since MLB announced that Cincinnati would host this event. While I didn’t get to attend the Home Run Derby or the All-Star Game, I still was determined to get the most out of my All-Star experience. And I truly did.

Being at Fanfest as both a volunteer and a fan, participating in the Color Run on Saturday, watching the All-Star Red Carpet parade on Tuesday, and even hunting for all 21 of the mustache statues around the city were all awesome experiences. But my favorite part of the week, aside from watching (at Applebee’s no less because of a power outage at home) Todd Frazier win the Home Run Derby, had to be attending the events at Great American Ball Park on All-Star Sunday, which included the Futures Game and the Legends and Celebrity Softball game.

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The Futures game was a neat event to watch live. I wasn’t familiar with every player, but keeping score of the game kept me informed as to which players might be on their way to the big leagues and who I should look out for. And it was fun to watch the players I did know of perform well, such as Middletown native and Chicago Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber, who won the Futures Game MVP, and Reds prospects Kyle Waldrop, Amir Garrett and Yorman Rodriguez.

But the event I thought was the most fun was the Legends and Celebrity Softball game. In years past, I’ve tried to watch it on TV and it’s always seemed a little boring to me. (I now realize it’s probably because they skip some innings and instead do a lot of innings recaps on ESPN.) But I found this event, when watched live, to be incredibly fun and entertaining. Maybe that’s because there were a lot of runs scored this particular year or maybe it was the on-field emcees Chris Rose and Kevin Millar from MLB Network’s Intentional Talk, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching the celebrities. Watching Sean Casey and Aaron Boone go yard three times each was like reliving my childhood. My favorite moment was watching Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton hit one to the wall (the actual wall, not the softball wall) after hearing a smattering of boos from some fans.

‘Hunger Games’ star Josh Hutcherson pandered to his teenage fans by signing and taking selfies between innings. The best entertainer on the field was Snoop Dogg. Between diving over the outfield fence to try making a catch he had no chance to make, slipping and falling flat on his back running from first and second, and his antics on the mound in the final inning, he provided laughs for everyone in the park, young and old. The atmosphere was exactly what you would expect from an event like that.

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What will I remember most from last week? It’s definitely the buzz felt around Cincinnati, even more so than an Opening Day game. Everybody was upbeat and the energy level was incredible. The closest thing I can compare it to was the 2010 NL Central clinch game, but this was on a national level. I can’t even tell you how many conversations I had with complete strangers about baseball, the Reds and All-Star week. Baseball was the number one thing on everybody’s mind and it seemed like everybody, even those who normally don’t like baseball, was involved.

Some say that Cincinnati is a football town, but I’ve never truly agreed with them. Yes, people love the Bengals and the local college teams, but it’s not the same as the love Cincinnatians have for the Reds. Baseball fandom runs deep in this town and last week showed just how much the Reds rule this city in a way other sports can’t.

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