Of all the festivities involved in the MLB All-Star break, the celebrity softball game stands out as the most relatable tradition.
After all, the average fan can't smash 450-foot dingers with regularity or even so much as sniff the major leagues, let alone the All-Star game. Nearly everyone has taken a few swings in a friendly softball game, though.
The tradition of the celebrity softball game continues with the 2014 edition of the game on Sunday, July 14. Here's a look at how you can catch the fun event along with the complete list of the participants and a preview of what to watch for.
Where: Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota
When: Monday, June 14 at 10 p.m. ET
|Andy Cohen||Reality TV Producer|
|Andre Dawson||MLB Hall of Famer|
|Chris Distefano||Host of MTV's "Off The Bat"|
|Jennie Finch||Olympic Gold Medalist|
|Rollie Fingers||MLB Hall of Famer|
|Dwight Gooden||Former MLB Pitcher|
|Rickey Henderson||MLB Hall of Famer|
|Kevin Love||Timberwolves Power Forward|
|Fred Lynn||Former MLB All-Star|
|Maya Moore||Minnesota Lynx Forward|
|Jack Morris||Former MLB Pitcher|
|Zach Parise||Minnesota Wild Left Winger|
|Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings Running Back|
|Mike Piazza||Former MLB Catcher|
|Ozzie Smith||MLB Hall of Famer|
|John Smoltz||Former MLB Pitcher|
|Jim Thome||Former MLB First Baseman|
|Andrew Zimmern||Chef/Reality TV Star|
Who Will Take Home MVP Honors?
Obviously the atmosphere for this game is best described as casual, but it's always interesting to see who emerges as the standout. Will it be an MLB legend like Mike Piazza or Jim Thome? (Probably) An athlete from another sport such as Adrian Peterson? (Maybe) Or someone unexpected like rapper Fat Joe? (No.)
Rapper Nelly took home co-MVP honors in 2009 with a performance that included a two-run home run and some excellent plays in the field.
Looking at the athletes who have made their name in other sports it's hard to deny that Peterson is a likely candidate. His super-human athleticism makes him the most talented running back in the NFL and some of those skills should be transferable to the diamond.
However, the smart money is on Thome to take home the honors. After all the slugger is just two years removed from being an active major leaguer. His powerful swing seems like a perfect fit for the softball game, too.
Then of course there's Jennie Finch. The softball dynamo is right at home on the softball field and will be playing in her fifth career celebrity game.
How Will Fans React to Kevin Love?
With the All-Star game in Minneapolis, the MLB made sure it stacked the roster with local athletes to drive up interest in the game.
It's not guaranteed that everyone on the roster will have a hero's welcome, though. Kevin Love has made his name by playing for the Timberwolves in his first six seasons in the association, but it looks like those days could be coming to an end sooner rather than later.
The star forward has been the center of trade speculation all summer and the game will actually be played on the 13th—just two days after Marc Stein of ESPN reported Love would commit to the Cleveland Cavaliers long-term if traded there:
Source close to situation says Kevin Love indeed "intrigued" by idea of being dealt to Cavs and would commit long there if traded there— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 11, 2014
Love has yet to make it to the playoffs in his six years with the T-Wolves. So it's easy to see why he's frustrated, but fans often value loyalty over everything. With so many Minnesota staples involved in the festivities, the fan reaction to Love remains intriguing.
Who Will Emerge as a Surprise Star?
The last edition of the celebrity softball game produced a surprising co-MVP as actor Kevin James took home the honors in the National League team's victory. The 5'8" "King of Queens" star surprised viewers by legging out a double and making some plays defensively.
James won't return to the game this year. So which celebrity will surprise viewers on Sunday?
At 6'3" and just 44 years old, actor/comedian Rob Riggle could be a sleeper candidate.
Then again, maybe it will be Fat Joe. Probably not, though.