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2021 MLB All-Star week guide: Where and what to watch for

The baseball world comes together in Denver for three days of festivities

We have finally arrived at All-Star Week 2021, one of the biggest weeks of the year for the sport of baseball. All eyes will be on the game’s biggest stars as they converge in Denver to celebrate America’s pastime.

It’s been two years since the baseball world has been able to come together like this. A lot has happened since then, not just within the sport but in the lives of everyone around the world. This All-Star Week provides an opportunity for the entire baseball community, including players who began the year in bubbles, to finally physically interact with each other and regain a sense of normalcy. Whether you’re attending an in-person event with thousands of others or just watching from home, it’s good to have baseball back at this scale.

It’s also obviously special that Denver gets to be the place where it all takes place. From fresh draft picks and rising prospects trying to make a name for themselves on the big stage to first time All-Stars and established superstars mashing home runs and having fun on camera, there’s going to be a lot going on in the next few days. Let’s break down all the happenings including where and what to watch for.

All-Star Futures Game, July 11th, 1 P.M. MT, MLB Network

It all begins this afternoon with the next generation of major leaguers showcasing their talents for the world to see at Coors Field. It’ll be a seven-inning contest where fans can catch a glimpse of some of the top minor league prospects on the rise. The full NL and AL rosters are below and the NL squad will feature three Rockies prospects: Michael Toglia, Willie MacIver and Ryan Vilade.

All-Star Celebrity Softball Game, played on July 11th, 4 P.M. MT, airing on July 12th at 8 P.M. on ESPN

What could possibly be said about this yearly collection of random celebrities? The celebrity game is the only time and place in the world where you can see a retired or even active professional athlete get thrown out at first by a pop star. It’s also the event where younger and older generations collide and when younger generations can explain TikTok to those over 30.

However, this one will feature the return of Hall of Famer Larry Walker to Coors Field as well as a bunch of other Denver sports stars.

Participants: Hunter Pence, CC Sabathia, Vinny Castilla, Larry Walker, Von Miller (Broncos), Will Barton (Nuggets), Phillip Grubauer (Avalanche), Brandon McManus (Broncos), Lauren Chamberlain (women’s softball), Natasha Watley (Olympic softball gold medalist), Jorge Masvidal (UFC fighter), Jennie Finch (softball legend), Derrick White (Spurs), DK Metcalf (Seahawks), Anthony Mackie (actor), Chase Carter (model), Quavo (music artist), Jojo Siwa (pop star), Steve Aoki (DJ, producer), Ross Butler (actor), Noah Beck (TikTok star), Charles Melton (actor), Residente (music artist, activist), Blake Grey (social media star), The Miz (WWE), Kane Brown (country artist), Karamo (TV star), J.I.D. (music artist), Anuel AA (music artist), Josh Richards (social media star), Jhay Cortez (music artist)

MLB Draft Day 1, July 11th 5 P.M. MT, ESPN

For the first time ever, the MLB Draft is being held during All-Star Week and it will feature a live audience of fans for day one of the selections. It will be held at the Bellco Theatre at the Colorado Convention Center where Play Ball Park is also being put on every day of the festivities. The new element of audience reactions could make for some interesting moments. For example, will Rob Manfred get the ol’ Roger Goodell shower of boos?

Of course the main attraction is still the players. This year’s draft is highlighted by high school shortstops Jordan Lawler and Marcelo Mayer as well as a pair of impressive Vanderbilt arms in Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker. The Rockies hold the eighth pick and could go in a number of directions. Can a short staffed Rockies front office find the next franchise cornerstone or will they instead find the next Riley Pint? (Too soon?)

This year’s draft will be 20 rounds, an improvement from last year’s five but still 20 rounds shy of the once-standard format.

Home Run Derby, July 12th 6 P.M. MT, ESPN

Perhaps the most anticipated event of the week is this year’s Home Run Derby. Considering it’s at Coors Field and the league will reportedly not store the balls used for the derby in the humidor that’s typically used, fans are expecting the balls to fly record breaking distances. Two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani is the big headlining attraction but Rockies fans will enjoy seeing their own Trevor Story participating. It’s a bracket style format this year so Story will first have to get past Joey Gallo in his first round matchup.

The main broadcast of the event will air on ESPN but if you’re interested in listening to some analytics driven commentary you can switch over to ESPN2 where they’ll air a “Statcast Edition” of the broadcast.

91st Annual All-Star Game, July 13th 5:30 P.M. MT, FOX

For the second time ever in its 26-year history, Coors Field will host the Midsummer Classic. Each league’s best put on a show and face off for the 91st time in MLB history. The American League has won seven consecutive matchups and holds the winning record of 45-43-2.

Germán Márquez is the Rockies’ lone representative and is making his first ever All-Star appearance. He’s the eighth pitcher in Rockies history to earn the honors and the first since Greg Holland in 2017.

Many of the All-Stars originally selected have withdrawn for various reasons (injury, pitcher ineligibility, rest, being an Astro) so the league has recently announced those replacements. It includes: Tim Anderson (CWS), Chris Bassit (OAK), Whit Merrifield (KC), Joey Wendle (TB), Walker Buehler (LAD), Justin Turner (LAD), Yadier Molina (STL), Freddy Peralta (MIL), Omar Narváez (MIL), Max Scherzer (WSH), Taijaun Walker (NYM).