Major League Baseball officially kicks off the All-Star break on Monday with the State Farm Home Run Derby on ESPN, followed by Tuesday's Midsummer Classic on FOX.
A few years back, after Bud Selig barely weathered the storm of ending the All-Star game in a tie, MLB decided the exhibition contest should matter, thereby instituting a silly rule to give the winning league—American or National—home-field advantage in the World Series.
"This time it counts."
The rule has both helped and hurt the game, putting a little juice (if you pardon the baseball pun) on the outcome of the event while simultaneously putting far too much pressure on the managers to make "baseball" decisions instead of making sure everyone gets into the game and has fun.
Remember the Brad Lidge debacle of 2008, where then-Rockies manager Clint Hurdle had him warm up six times before coming in to lose the game in the 15th inning? Lidge threw 120 pitches and nearly ruined his arm for a month. Is that really better than ending in a tie?
But it counted! Because it counts—that time, this time and for what it's worth, all the times.
Lidge was surely not the only player who has been misused in the All-Star game, be it by overuse or under-use by a manager. That said, the managerial decisions are just a small part of the All-Star weekend. There's the Home Run Derby, the terrible musicians MLB pulls out to play before their events begin, the Twitter vitriol thrown toward Chris Berman on Monday and Joe Buck on Tuesday.
There is a whole lot to follow during the All-Star break. Here are some of the most important tips for watching and tweeting about the MLB All-Star Game.