Here's a fun fact: There have been 88 All-Star Games, and not only is the record dead even at 43-43 with two ties, but each league has scored 361 runs. So this year's All-Star Game at Nationals Park basically means everything!
Let's go inning by inning in All-Star history with some of the great moments to predict what you might see happen Tuesday night:
First inning: Not all aces shine
Signature moment: 1989 -- Anaheim Stadium
With former President Ronald Reagan in the booth with Vin Scully, Bo Jackson leads off with a mammoth home run off Rick "Big Daddy" Reuschel:
Maybe you prefer Torii Hunter robbing Barry Bonds of a home run in 2002 or Pedro Martinez striking out the side in front of the home fans at Fenway in 1999, but Bo's blast remains a seminal All-Star moment.
First-inning history: There have been more home runs and more runs in the first inning than any other, and a surprising number of outings where the starter got roasted in the first. Remember 2012, when Justin Verlander tried to blow 100 mph fastballs by everybody and promptly gave up five runs? Or 2004, when Roger Clemens started at home at Minute Maid Park and the American League scored six in the top of the first? Or Tom Glavine giving up four runs in 1992? Or Joe Morgan and Greg Luzinski hitting home runs off Jim Palmer in 1977 on way to a four-run inning? If there's going to be a big rally in 2018, it might come in the first.
2018 equivalent: I guess Tim Tebow could be a last-minute injury replacement, draw the starting assignment and hit one 450 feet to center field. Otherwise, look for Mike Trout to do some first-inning damage: He has started four previous All-Star Games and got a hit in the first inning all four times.
Tune in now if you want to see: This is truly the star portion of the All-Star Game. MVP candidates stepping in against Cy Young favorites? Sign me up for that.
Second inning: Watch for the K's
Signature moment: 1934 -- Polo Grounds
Carl Hubbell strikes out five future Hall of Famers in a row:
After the first two batters for the AL reached in the first, Hubbell struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx. In the second inning, the National League starter fanned Al Simmons and Joe Cronin. We might not blink at five strikeouts in a row today, but this is still one of the most famous feats in baseball history.
Second-inning history: Back in the day, the starter would go at least two innings and maybe three. Now, the starter often departs after just one inning, although Chris Sale went two last year and Dallas Keuchel and Zack Greinke both went two in 2015.
2018 equivalent: Well, let's see, the American League starting lineup could feature five future Hall of Famers: Trout, Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve and Manny Machado are clearly strong candidates given their ages and credentials, while Jose Ramirez and Aaron Judge have established a possibility as well.
Tune in now if you want to see: If the starting pitchers did their job, this inning is all about seeing the second half of each lineup vs. the second-best pitcher in each league. And since starting pitching is so good right now, that means another round of potential Cy Youngs vs. potential MVPs.
Third inning: Could we see a slam?
Signature moment: 1983 -- Comiskey Park
Fred Lynn hits the only grand slam in All-Star history:
Lynn's home run was all the more historic given the circumstances at the time: The NL had won 11 All-Star Games in a row and 19 of 20. This was when league pride was still a big deal, and the NL was rather arrogant about its winning streak. Lynn's slam powered the AL to a 13-3 victory (and the AL would later top the NL's streak with 12 wins in a row between 1997 and 2009, with the infamous 2002 tie thrown in).
Third-inning history: Some of the most famous All-Star home runs came in the third: Ruth hitting the first All-Star home run in 1933, Reggie Jackson's shot off the light tower at Tiger Stadium in 1971, Cal Ripken's homer at Safeco Field in his final All-Star Game in 2001 -- and don't forget John Kruk facing Randy Johnson in 1993, which did not end with a home run.
2018 equivalent: There have been 97 plate appearances in All-Star history with the bases loaded. Batters are hitting .277/.289/.398 with just seven extra-base hit. So we're due for a grand slam. One player to watch: J.D. Martinez. Nobody can get him out these days.
Tune in now if you want to see: As the lineup turns over, it's time for managers to start deciding how they want to divvy up at-bats. There will certainly be many starters still in the game but -- especially if the game is high-scoring and the lineup is turning over -- you might start seeing some new faces enter now.
Fourth inning: If you need to take a quick break ...
Signature moment: 2011 -- Chase Field
Prince Fielder earns MVP honors with a three-run home run off C.J. Wilson:
Wilson would allow just two home runs all season to lefties, so props to Fielder for taking him deep. The Brewers won the NL Central in 2011, and Fielder finished third in the MVP voting with 38 home runs and a .299/.416/.566 line (teammate Ryan Braun won MVP honors).
Fourth-inning history: The fourth inning has seen the fewest memorable moments in All-Star history, with just 19 home runs, although several of those came from big names -- Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Johnny Bench, Frank Thomas. Ten of the 19 home runs were hit by Hall of Famers.
2018 equivalent: Short aside. One of the things that has made the All-Star game less appealing in recent years has been the parade of semi-anonymous relievers. That 2011 game featured David Robertson, Jordan Walden, Chris Perez, Brandon League, Alexi Ogando, Tyler Clippard, Jonny Venters, Heath Bell, Joel Hanrahan and Brian Wilson (plus Craig Kimbrel). Last year's game featured, among others, Brandon Kintzler, Roberto Osuna, Chris Devenski, Pat Neshek and Brad Hand. Overall, 11 of the 18 pitchers used were relievers. Other All-Star relievers making appearances in recent years include Ryan Cook, Jim Johnson, Grant Balfour, Brett Cecil, Steve Delabar, Jason Grilli, Tony Watson, Hanrahan again, Clippard again, Neshek again and Will Harris.
This year, we could see the likes of Joe Jimenez, Blake Treinen, Jeremy Jeffress and Felipe Vazquez -- all fine pitchers, but not exactly household names. Of course, I'd love to see multiple starting pitchers go two innings apiece, but even the starter rarely goes two innings anymore. It's great that these guys get a moment to remember the rest of their lives and get to call themselves All-Stars, I just don't think it makes for the most exciting viewing experience.
Tune in now if you want to see: In last year's low-scoring All-Star Game, the first position player changes came here. Look for reserves entering to replace some of the lesser-name starters now.
Fifth inning: Get ready for the reserves
Signature moment: 2007 -- AT&T Park
Ichiro Suzuki hits the only inside-the-park home run in All-Star Game history:
That was fun. Ichiro went 3-for-3 in the game to win MVP honors.
Fifth inning history: Bobby Bonds and Barry Bonds both hit fifth-inning home runs (Bobby in 1973 when he won MVP honors and Barry in 1998 off ... wait for it ... Bartolo Colon. Heck, we have to show that highlight:
2018 equivalent: Ken Griffey Sr. also hit a fifth-inning home run in 1980 (on his way to MVP honors). So the fifth inning has some father/son history. Since Michael Brantley is the only son of a former major league to make this year's All-Star Game, he's going to hit a fifth-inning home run.
Tune in now if you want to see: The subs are flying now! One thing to keep in mind: The depth of a position matters here. The NL has three first basemen (though Paul Goldschmidt is starting at designated hitter) and three second basemen to get in the game compared to only two third basemen and shortstops. That means you are likely to see starters Nolan Arenado and Brandon Crawford in after Freddie Freeman and Javier Baez are done for the night.
Sixth inning: A great inning for hitting
Signature moment: 1984 -- Candlestick Park
Dwight Gooden throws two scoreless innings:
Gooden was a 19-year-old rookie phenom who was 8-5 with a 2.84 and 133 strikeouts in 111 innings at the All-Star break. He was the talk of baseball in 1984, and appearing in an All-Star Game was the first chance many fans had to watch him. And in those pre-interleague days, it was also a chance for the other league to see a young player in person for the first time (other than spring training). In the same game, I can remember all the National Leaguers lining up along the dugout railing to watch Don Mattingly hit.
Sixth-inning history: The sixth isn't the highest-scoring inning (the first inning has seen 10 more runs), but the sixth does have the best overall batting line -- by far:
Sixth inning: .285/.340/.451
First inning: .250/.302/.421
Third inning: .251/.306/.413
All-Star overall: .245/.302/.391
2018 equivalent: The youngest All-Stars are a pair of second baseman -- Albies of the Braves and Gleyber Torres of the Yankees, both 21 years old (Albies is about a month younger). Torres is injured, so maybe Albies has big moment on the national stage.
Tune in now if you want to see: Remember that parade of relievers we warned you about? Well, here it comes. Coupled with this being the time that the final starters should be exiting, this is a prime chance for fans of teams with only one player in the game to see that guy on the field.
Seventh inning: A potential turning point
Signature moment: 1979 -- Kingdome
Dave Parker unleashes the first of two amazing throws from right field, nailing Jim Rice trying to stretch a double into a triple:
Parker's throw in the eighth inning kept the game tied as he gets Brian Downing at home plate:
The NL would go on to win 7-6 in one of the most exciting All-Star Games ever played as Lee Mazzilli tied it with a home run in the top of the eighth and then drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth. Parker's throws won him MVP honors, however.
Seventh-inning history: Gary Carter hit his second home run of the 1981 game in the seventh, and Brian McCann's three-run double in 2010 gave the NL a 3-1 win and its first All-Star Game win since 1996.
2018 equivalent: Sorry, there is no equivalent to Dave Parker in 2018. Yoenis Cespedes has maybe the best raw arm strength, but he's injured and not an All-Star. Jackie Bradley Jr., Aaron Hicks and Yasiel Puig have good arms; none is here. Haniger is an All-Star and tied for the MLB lead with nine outfield assists, but I wouldn't put his arm in the same category as Parker. If we're looking for defensive gems, maybe our best shot is Arenado stealing a couple of doubles down the line.
Tune in now if you want to see: If you haven't seen your favorite player yet, tune in now! The guys in the game here might not have started it, but the trade-off is they do get an elevated chance at MVP honors if things are close this late.
Eighth inning: Big home runs happen here
Signature moment: 1946 -- Fenway Park
Ted Williams homers off Rip Sewell's "eephus" pitch:
That game was a 12-0 blowout for the AL, but Williams' home run is still a famous blast.
Eighth-inning history: A less famous home run, but much bigger given the circumstances, was Hank Blalock's two-run home run with two outs off Eric Gagne to give the AL a 7-6 win in 2003, the first year the All-Star Game determined home-field advantage in the World Series:
By the way, that was the year Gagne won the Cy Young when he went 55-for-55 in save chances. So he was perfect. Except he wasn't.
2018 equivalent: Choo of the Rangers homers off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.
Tune in now if you want to see: Things really favor the pitchers if the game is close this late. While the managers work to get the last bats on the bench into the game, elite closers are licking their chops at a chance to air it out late in the All-Star Game.
Ninth inning: Walk-off time
Signature moment: 1941 -- Briggs Stadium
Ted Williams hits a walk-off three-run homer with two outs to give the AL the 7-5 victory:
Williams hit four home runs in All-Star Games, tied with Lynn for second, behind Musial's six.
Ninth-inning history: There has been one other ninth-inning walk-off home run in All-Star history: Johnny Callison in 1964, in the only All-Star Game played at Shea Stadium. Musial hit a walk-off home run in the 12th inning in 1955.
2018 equivalent: Who gets the ninth inning for the AL? Aroldis Chapman is now out, so it's either Kimbrel or Diaz. Let's go with saves leader Diaz pitching to Votto, who cracks the walk-off home run for the NL.
Tune in now if you want to see: It's elite closer time!
Players most likely to enter here: AL: Kimbrel. NL: Jansen.
Signature moment: 1970 -- Riverfront Stadium
Pete Rose barrels over Ray Fosse to scoring the winning run in the bottom of the 12th:
The most famous play in All-Star Game history. It's worth noting: Look how far up the line Fosse was, waiting for the ball. Where was Rose supposed to go? This style of "blocking" the plate was common in the 1970s and '80s. And we wonder why they had some ugly home plate collisions in that era.
Extra-innings history: Thirteen of the 88 All-Star Games have gone extra innings, including last season, when Robinson Cano's home run off Wade Davis earned him MVP honors. The longest games have been 15 innings in 2008 (AL won 4-3) and 1967 (NL won 2-1).
2018 equivalent: Umm ... not gonna happen.
Tune in now if you want to see ...: If your team's player hasn't gotten in yet, this is likely why. Managers do have to keep some players back in case things get weird late.